Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Location: Cupertino, California, U.S. of A!
|Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 8:51 am Post subject: "Deregulation" and "Privatization"
|"Deregulation" and "Privatization"
In the late 1970s, I started hearing the memes "Deregulation" and "Privatization". Although the actually meanings of the two are somewhat different, the end result when they are applied politically is the same. Both have to do with shifting control of social institutions (schools, pensions, banks, jails etc.) from Government to private business; the idea being that business would do things more efficiently. Like Marxism, this is a interesting theory which has never worked in practice.
The biggest theft in history
In 1980 Ronald Reagan was elected president, in part based on promises to deregulate the Savings and Loan (S&L) Industry. The idea was that "deregulated" S&Ls would make more money and pay higher interest rates. What we forgot was that S&Ls were regulated for a reason. The government guaranteed that any money deposited in many S&L accounts would be reimbursed by the taxpayers if the S&L went broke. The regulations were there to make sure careless or crooked S&L operators didn't cost us all a fortune.
Once Reagan rammed through the "Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act", his cronies swung into action. They bought into many small S&Ls, and did exactly what the regulations had wisely banned. Their new rules rigged things so that if the S&L got lucky and made a killing the cronies would keep the money; but if it lost it's money, the investors would be paid back by the Feds. No one knows exactly how much money the winners made off with, but the taxpayers were caught holding the bag for somewhere between $124 Billion and $1.4 Trillion - either way, the largest theft in human history.
Over and over again
"Privatization" and "Deregulation" turned out to be the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of conservative Economics. These ideas were behind California's Electricity deregulation in the 1990s, which enriched the likes of Enron and Reliant Energy, while costing California citizens $20 Billion.
Even the deregulator's poster child has turned sour. Airlines were deregulated under the Carter administration in 1978, and Air travel in the US has steadily deteriorated since. No one seems to have gouged billions from the airlines woes, so maybe the deregulation was truly well intentioned, however it has not worked out well for either the Airlines or their passengers.
And the cost is sometimes measured in lives rather than dollars: just last week 12 Miners suffered "Death by deregulation".
The other Evil twin
It seems that sometimes deregulation doesn't screw the public fast enough, so BushCo has been promoting "Privatization" of just about everything - Social security, schools (vouchers), rebuilding Iraq, you name it. Their biggest experiment so far has been "rebuilding" Iraq; where electricity, water,roads and schools have all been farmed out via no-bid or cost-plus contracts to private firms. By an amazing coincidence, these firms are owned and run by Bush, Cheney, and their friends.
And when milking the money through fraud and cronyism is just too slow, the privatize-happy system can just "loose" billions of dollars. Oopsie!
Sometimes they can't even wait for the "privatization" of a system to take effect before getting their cash. Dubya's plot to privatize social security is projected to cost $1-2 Trillion (lots of info - Google it) before it returns a dime to pensioners.
Privatization is not always about stealing money - sometimes there are other motives for gutting our country. Religious inverts keep pushing "school vouchers" (which redirect public money to private schools) as one of many tools to dismantle public schools.
Fool me once...
It may well be that if Privatization or Deregulation is ever given a fair try, they might actually make something work a bit better. But the reality is that these are almost always a cover for special interests to get rich at the expense of the public. Whatever minor benefits there may be cannot be worth the overwhelming probability that the real reason for these ideas are raised is to allow massive theft.
A counter meme to these racketeering concepts would be nice, but I've not been able to think of a meme I really like which covers either of both of these. My best so far:
- Public Ream Legislation
- BushCo Fleece Regs.
As always, your own ideas are encouraged.
And remember: when you hear a conservative make noises about Privatization or Deregulation, guard your wallet and remember another republican meme: Just say NO!