Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where's the Logic? Redux

Members of Arizona's legislature have proposed privatizing even more of the state's prisons, in addition to the 5,000 private beds they have requested proposals for (along with privatizing some state parks. Yes, state parks). All this despite the fact that numerous reports have come out, including an audit by the state of Arizona, showing that private prisons are more expensive to operate and less safe than government facilities.

Really, it's time to get over this whole "the free market is infallible" misperception that exists in this country. Privatizing services is not always the best option. In fact, introducing a profit motive to certain functions can sometimes be a very bad thing, such as in the private prison industry. Or private health insurance. Or private defense. There are just some things in life where profit should not be the number-one, overarching concern. Governments ALWAYS operate prisons better and more efficiently that private companies, mostly because they aren't seeking a profit and can therefore devote all resources to operating a safe and humane facility. For as much as people disparage and hate on prisoners, they're still people, and deserving of at least a modicum of dignity and respect, which is exceedingly difficult to come by in private prisons.

No, government may not be extremely efficient in all that it does, but private corporations aren't necessarily that efficient either. Until we break this perception that privatization is always better, just because, we will continue to waste taxpayer dollars by funneling them to large corporations who don't give a damn about us. We have a prison industrial complex in this country largely because there's money to be made in it. It's high time to eliminate that motivation.

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