Monday, December 11, 2006

Outsourcing to the Private Sector

Paul Krugman has a good post today in the New York Times about what is wrong Republican efforts during the Bush Administration to outsource so much government work to private companies. After listing numerous costly outsourcing failures at home and abroad he says:

It’s now clear that there’s a fundamental error in the antigovernment ideology embraced by today’s conservative movement. Conservatives look at the virtues of market competition and leap to the conclusion that private ownership, in itself, is some kind of magic elixir. But there’s no reason to assume that a private company hired to perform a public service will do better than people employed directly by the government.

In fact, the private company will almost surely do a worse job if its political connections insulate it from accountability — which has, of course, consistently been the case under Mr. Bush...
There is just no evidence that the private sector automatically does better work than the government. People are people whether they are government bureaucrats or private sector employees. There are good and bad workers in both places. Its the system with its mix of incentives and accountability and work atmosphere that makes the difference.

Healthcare is a case in point. The most corrupt and inefficient healthcare delivery system in the country is our privately run healthcare mess. The most efficient is run by the Veterans Administration. But Republicans fight every effort to expand this government program to include more Americans.

Why? Because the current privately run system, as awful as it is, is part of the patronage edifice of the Republican Party. Republicans block reform to protect insurance companies and HMO's and they in turn contribute big bucks back to the elephant party.

The only saving grace about our current healthcare system is that it has gotten so bad during the last decade that it is no longer possible to claim that more competition or private sector fiddling with the system will cure it. Like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Katrina, the more outsourcing to the private sector we have done the worse everything has gotten. The last six years of unfettered Republican rule has laid it all bare. When there is no accountability, the private sector can actually screw things up worse than any government can.

With a new Congress we now have an opportunity for the doors of this corrupt system to be opened up to the light of day. That should put the breaks to the outsourcing train wreck. Now we just need a competent Administration to run the government we have well. That will take another election.

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