Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boldly Going Nowhere

The Albuquerque Journal never misses an opportunity to put the privately owned space ship that's currently being developed on its front page. Part of the reason they promote this project is that it is supposed to eventually be based at New Mexico's space port, but most of the reason is the conservative fetish with the "private sector" doing something that previously only government had done.

The Neoliberal mantra that "the private sector can do anything better than government" hasn't worked out in practice. The private sector hasn't done anything of that nature well, and what it does always costs more. When public utilities like water are privatized, peoples' bills double. Private prisons have been a disaster. Charter schools, the back door privatization scheme for the public schools, despite cherry picking the best students and leaving special needs students to the state to educate, have never produced test scores that are any better than public schools have. Sometimes they don't do as well as public schools. These findings have been duplicated over and over now, even if the public discussion about education doesn't reflect it. The list of privatization failures goes on and on, but privatization still continues to be pushed by the media, which is essentially a conservative, corporate owned institution.

You heard a lot about privatization during the Republican debates during the last election, but not as much after the large Republican defeat. The recent revelations that a highly influential paper by two US economists, that had provided much of the underpinning for austerity measure economics, was full of mistakes didn't do their cause any good either. Conservatives have not given up on Neoliberalism, nor have Democrats, and it's still official Washington policy, but its days are numbered, and you can expect to see great white hopes of privatization like the space ship project held up and fervently promoted until they crash and burn and turn to dust, one way or the other. 

The railroads that span this country were originally financed by the public in the form of massive grants of free land, and would not survive a day without massive subsidies from tax breaks and tax free right of way land. The nation's government space program has been funded through good times and bad by the public, but that won't be so with the private space ship. It's not even possible.



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