Osawatamie State Hospital Blues
Posted on March 30, 2016
Brownbackistani policy on public services works like this:
1. Cut funding in order to reduce “waste,” (which is actually a right-wing code word for public services as such).
2. Mismanage the remaining resources until it becomes a public scandal.
3. Privatize the public service in order to create “efficiency” (which is actually a right-wing code word for private profits for crony capitalists).
Leaving aside the corrupt language and motives and practices, the right-wing theory of privatization directly contradicts conventional economic understandings. In standard economics, private markets are believed to be more-or-less socially efficient because of consumer pressure, ratified by the discipline competition. In contrast, public services are provided in cases where consumer discipline is not feasible. In that case, discipline has to be provided by the voters through the political process, and also through civil service ethics (which are based on public service rather than profit). Privatization attenuates political oversight and eliminates the ethical motive, leading to social inefficiency (and also higher profits for cronies).
In the case of Osawatamie State Hospital we are at step 2, with the Brownbackistanicrats calling for movement to step 3.