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The Core Dump

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How to privatize a public good

The standard right-wing approach to privatizing public goods like education and health care.

It’s an article of faith among the right that public goods like schools, health care and defense should be privatized as much as possible: Government is by definition bad and private actors will always deliver services and goods in a more efficient and cost effective manner.

No matter what reality says.

So you see the same play enacted over and over again. And for good reason: It works. (The current Swedish right-wing government is quite busy these days following the lead of their colleagues in the UK by dismantling as much as possible of the welfare state.)

Let’s use education as an example, but you can substitute with any public good. Here’s how it works:

  1. Cut funding to schools as much as possible. Important: Explain that this is fiscal responsibility.
  2. Be publicly aghast that the quality of education delivered by the schools is dropping. This is proof government can not deliver this service efficiently.
  3. Open up the market for private actors. They will surely solve this crisis.
  4. Cut funding for public schools even more and suggest caring (read: wealthy enough) parents send their children to the new private schools, which are clearly superior.
  5. Ignore all reports that the new schools cost just as much as the public schools did and are not delivering more value for the tax payer.
  6. (Optional but recommended) Snicker at the poor, dumb people who clearly don’t care enough about their children to send them to the new, better, private schools.

After that, find another public good to privatize and step and repeat. Success!

Posted Thursday, 23 January 2014 by

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