Friday, May 21, 2010

Market Privatization and the Revolving Door

It's rather common among high-level employees of major industries like banking, oil, and even prisons, to be involved in the "revolving door" of the arena of politics and lobbying, often shuttling back and forth between political jobs, lobbying jobs, and industry jobs. Which makes me especially nervous in the case of North Carolina, whose current head of the department of health and human services used to lobby for private mental health contractors. Mr. Cansler has proposed privatizing much of the state's mental health system that handles violent offenders, working with a GEO Group lobbyist who formerly oversaw the state's massive transition from public - private mental heatlh care. As is typical with any profit-driven private industry providing human necessities, the privatization effort was a huge disaster that saw a drastic decline in the quality and accessibility of mental heatlh care in the state, which then overtaxed hospitals who had to deal with mentally ill people who couldn't find or afford care (which was passed on the the average North Carolinian taxpayer, while the private companies of course made out rather well). So of course GEO wants to get in on the mental health biz (the article says they provide "mental health care management services," though I'm sure they use the term lightly). I'm honestly kind of worried about the future of mental health care in North Carolina because, well, The GEO Group has never seemed to be too concerned with things like human rights and dignity when there's profit to be made.

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