Three Cheers for Public Services

Three Cheers for Public Services

When people woke up this morning our guess is that they paid little attention to their tax dollars hard at work. Every morning, we shower, brush our teeth and make our coffee with clean drinking water provided by our local government with public employees.

Then hard working public workers leave their families early in the morning to plow our streets and highways so that we can get to work. Our tax dollars are hard at work. Public services work for our communities at a fair and reasonable cost.

However, if our public services were privatized, a predictable result occurs:

  • A Corporate Executive Officer (CEO) would make decisions unilaterally about the level of service or what the cost would be without public input or oversight.
  • A citizen would not be sure whether the private business or corporation is subject to or complies with any common sense regulations to keep our community safe.
  • The citizenry cannot hold the CEO accountable by voting him/her out of office if they do not like decisions being made. A citizen would be able to do this if the service is in the public domain.
  • It is very likely that the cost for our public services would increase because profits are the bottom line when services are privatized. Public services are not concerned about profit.

One just needs to take a look at Wisconsin to see how privatization has hurt its citizens. For example, when the former public agency named the Department of Commerce became privatized, unaccountable and appointed board members took full advantage of taxpayers’ dollars. Board members threw lavish parties, brought professional sports tickets and then could not account for millions of taxpayers’ dollars given to businesses under the guise of job creation.

This is just one example of many in Wisconsin where public services are being sold to the highest bidder. Privatization of public services usually results in higher costs, mismanagement of funds and little public oversight. Other predatory privatization includes the use of public tax payer dollars (usually in the form of vouchers) for private schools.

Citizens have a duty to promote public discourse when legislators seek to privatize public services. Citizens should expect that government has a moral duty to protect, empower and provide valuable services its citizens.

Private corporations have no such duty. Privatization of public services results in higher costs as private companies seek to maximize profit usually at the expense of the citizens. Public government is not concerned with making a profit but rather how it improves our lives. Smaller government/shrinking the role of public services really means making the public good secondary which abandons the moral mission of government.

So when you see a dedicated public worker making our communities better, let them know they are appreciated. Let’s keep the “public” in public service.