Don’t forget to privatize the works that work

Via Crooks and Liars, “Video of Random Shootings in Iraq“:

“The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.”

I didn’t think to add privatization as the next step after militarization, a slide from public agency through militarization to privatization. When the conversation is about public agencies competing against private companies what is meant is that there’s no profit for private entities. The tricky part is that one of the advantages of a public agency is that it does not have, or should not anyway, a profit motivation. The public agency has the luxury of being able to offer services that do not become profitable and even run in the red. So, when a public agency is condemned for not being economically efficient, that is exactly the reason that the service should stay in the public. When this service is privatized, the profit motive means that the service will have a doubly decreased budget – first the red must be absorbed and then the black must be appropriated for profit.

So, where an agency cannot be privatized, it is restructured to operate like a corporation. When that fails, the straw man of intrinsic failure is raised as a motivation to militarize or privatize the services. Reminds me of the strategy that I’ve identified previously in the way that Microsoft implements standards.