State after state is reporting dire financial conditions – California, Illinois, New Jersey, and even our own Wisconsin. The losses are so deep that only bankruptcy seems an option. But wait – there’s another ploy coming to a theater near you! They’ve been preparing the soil and soon they’ll spring it on us.
It’s called privatizing.
It’s always the same false claim: Private is more efficient than public. The public unions are impossible to work with, they’ll say, and we have a corporation that can save us dollars.
Rarely is that true, especially after they add all of the exorbitant salaries, bonuses, shareholder profits, marketing and political bribes that must be passed on to the taxpayer. These costs usually far exceed government waste, unless offset by egregiously low salaries that further harm the economy.
Need proof? Privatized Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers 17 percent more than government Medicare, which provides care to 80 percent of our seniors. Privatized Blackwater troops in the Mideast cost five times what U.S. troops cost. But Blackwater executives give campaign dollars and our troops don’t, so what else would you expect?
Politicians now have us right where they want us: desperate.
They’ll take state assets – say, roads – and lease them to a private company, which will then add tolls and recoup their investment in 10 years and pocket the profits thereafter. And part of those profits will go to the friendly politicians.
Or the politicians will sell state-owned buildings and then lease them back so the private company can make the profits from the taxpayers. Or farm out housekeeping and security services to for-profit companies, as was done by Gov.-elect Scott Walker in Milwaukee.
Walker, as Milwaukee County executive, proposed leasing out Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport and then leasing it back to help the county financially. Fortunately, he was elected governor before that could be pulled off, but now the state must contend with similar crazy ideas. No successful airport privatizations have been implemented nationally, and higher airport and traveler fees would have been necessary.
If privatizing is cost and service effective then by all means privatize. The pitchfork and torch carrying zealots who feel privatizing is the miracle panacea to every situation should be treated like the cultural plague they are. They’re not about what is best for the average citizen, but what is best to line their pockets. They are guilty of the most amateur of magic trick performances. Complaining about tax payer cost on one hand while hoping to collect the costs of taxes plus added profits with the other.
Matyrdom of the Ten Thousand 1508 by Durer. This painting by Durer , as ghoulish as any modern video game, was based on the legend of Saint Ursula (“little female bear” in Latin) and the thousands of virgins murdered by the Huns. Saint Ursula has been canonized but the massacre itself was never proven to be historical fact.
Her legend, probably unhistorical, is that she was a Romano-British princess who, at the request of her father King Donaut of Dumnonia in south-west England, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan Governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (Brittany), along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. However, a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, where Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome, with her followers, and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus (unknown in the pontifical records), and Sulpicius, Bishop of Ravenna, to join them. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a dreadful massacre. The Huns’ leader shot Ursula dead, supposedly in 383 (the date varies).
In one diagram from the book, the patient is seen in bed with his forearm attached to his head and a flap of skin – or pedicle – from his bicep region stuck onto his nose.
He stayed like that for about three weeks until the skin from his arm had attached itself properly.
After a further two weeks the bit of skin was shaped so it resembled a nose and the process was complete.
The book De Curtorum Chirurgia Per Insitionem – meaning The Surgery of Defects by Implantations – was published in 1597, two years before the author’s death.
The 16th century was not exactly known for its high standards of sanitation and it would be over two hundred years before Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis and physicians washing their hands..
Meredith Whitney, a research analyst who correctly predicted the credit crunch, is now warning that over 100 American cities could go bust next year. She anticipates billions worth of municipal bond defaults and warns: “next to housing this is the single most important issue in the U.S. and certainly the biggest threat to the U.S. economy.” States are also in dire straits. The economic shock of mass unemployment on top of years of population decline, deindustrialization and the like have left cities unable to meet their obligations to taxpayers and retirees. With an austerity anschluss underway in the House, it may take a bankruptcy of a major player to prod an appropriate federal response to this looming disaster.
I’m not sure it will be much consolation to see deficit peacock Republicans hang by their own austerity petard as the economy teeters on the brink.