Privatization. Privatization. Privatization. It’s all you hear from Republicans. But what does it actually mean?
Generations ago, America built an entire national highway system, along with the largest and best public colleges and universities in the world. Also public schools and national parks, majestic bridges, dams that generated electricity for entire regions, public libraries and public research.
But around 1980, the moneyed interests began pushing to privatize much of this, giving it over to for-profit corporations. Privatization, the argument went, would boost efficiency and reduce taxes.
The reality has been that privatization too often only boosts corporate bottom lines.
For example, consider Trump’s proposal for infrastructure. It depends on private developers, who would make money off of both tax subsidies and private tolls. So the public would get charged twice, without any guarantee that the resulting roads, bridges, or rapid transportation systems would be where they’re most needed.
It’s true that private for-profit corporations can do certain tasks very efficiently. And some privatization has worked. But the goal of corporations is to maximize profits for shareholders, not to serve the public interest.