The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has Journal Gazette | 11/25/2006 | an editorial supporting the plan of Speaker Bauer and House Democrats to review Governor Daniels’ privatization initiatives.
Bauer gets off a zinger:
â€œOur caucus basically does not support privatization,â€ Bauer said on Tuesdayâ€™s Organization Day. â€œWe donâ€™t support making profit out of poor people or mentally ill people.â€
The Journal Gazette notes that since January of 2005, the Indiana Department of Corrections outsourced its food services, the state has tried to privatize state park inns, the state allowed a coal company to do exploratory mining in a state wildlife area and has begun privatization of the state developmental centers.
They note the Governor being supportive of the concept of privatization:
This month, the governor defended his privatization efforts in an address to business owners in Indianapolis. He said he had heard terms like â€œprivate,â€ â€œprofitâ€ and â€œcorporateâ€ tossed around â€œas though they were dirty words.â€
â€œAnybody who still thinks like that really needs to get over it quick because if weâ€™re going to be a great state â€¦ if weâ€™re going to have real economic progress â€¦ weâ€™re going to have to have Americaâ€™s strongest, most vibrant private sector making profits,â€ Daniels was quoted in the Times of Northwest Indiana. â€œSomebody better make a profit or nobody will have a job.â€
First, Daniels is engaging in a non-sequitur. There are plenty of non-governmental activities in which profit potential abounds. Government generally engages in activities a) where it would be a disaster for profit-motivated private actors to act (see, e.g. activities related to government’s monopoly on violence — police powers, justice system, etc.); or b) where there is an obligation to act even in the absence of a good profit potential (see, e.g., care for the poor.)
Daniel Warrick of the AFSCME says that Governor Daniels refused to provide a cost-benefit analysis when the state “privatized the Division of Family Resources.” If no such analysis was done, that’s troubling because it cannot at all be taken as an article of faith that the private sector will perform a function more cheaply than the public sector. The General Assembly need not look further than the printing of its own bills for proof of this. It cost substantially more money to have a private entity print the bills than it cost the General Assembly to have the Legislative Services Agency do it.
Now, it’s always possible that pro-privatization advocates are not so much concerned about how much money is being spent, but who receives it. A politician does not benefit all that much when a bunch of public employees are being paid fairly well to do a job versus the benefits a politician may receive when similar expenditures are concentrated in the hands of friends and well-wishers with low-paid employees. But, that’s just speculation. I, like the Governor, do not have analyses to support my articles of faith. Unlike the Governor, this blog costs the citizens of Indiana nothing.