Monday, March 14, 2011

Conservative Economics Don't Help in Economic Crises

So I suppose I'm branching out a bit here and going beyond my traditional scope of prison privatization. But the recent budget proposal introduced by Ohio Governor John Kasich is a massive conservative failure that I think warrants attention.

Ohio is facing an $8 billion budget shortfall. Now, most economists will tell you that there are two ways to make up for such a shortfall; raise taxes and/or reduce spending. Liberals tend to favor the former, conservatives the latter. We already have historically low tax rates on the wealthy in this country, but apparently that's not enough for Governor Kasich.

He wants to cut taxes even further, which will result in an even greater financial shortfall by reducing state revenues (to the tune of an extra $420 frigging million). To make up for this and the budget crunch, he is now looking to privatize even more of the state's prison system, which should come as no surprise considering he hired a former CCA employee to be his secretary of corrections. He also wants to sell off parts of state parks to oil companies and cut medicaid.

These are all foolish proposals which will cost the state MORE in the long term. These aren't budget solutions, they're stopgap measures designed very specifically to continue America's trend of corporate welfare while screwing over the majority of the citizenry. Ohioans will lose their state parks to oil and gas interests. Ohio's prisoners will be subject to cruel conditions and lose out on valuable programming and rehabilitation services, which will likely increase recidivism. Kasich also wants to privatize the state lottery, despite the fact that their neighbor, Illinois, did so only to see the private company who overtook it be ambushed with lawsuits. For christ's sake, the man wants to privatize the state turnpike system and defund unions. If this isn't an attack on Ohio's middle and working classes, I don't know what is.

Where will this insanity end? Let's cut the crap. Eliminating social services and privatizing government operations is not efficient, and it does not serve the interests of the American public. Private companies are no more efficient, accountable, or transparent than the government, period. In fact, many who study corporate practices and policies realize that corporations care only about the bottom line, and nothing else. Privatization serves the interests of the wealthy, not the people. It does not make government more efficient.

Business interests do not align with the interests of the middle class or the poor. Any members of the middle class who think privatization will help them are either willfully deceived, or just plain ignorant. Business owners have absolutely nothing in common with the interests of working Americans. I am both angered and saddened at the recent wave of pro-privatization rhetoric sweeping the nation, and I hope for the sake of this country that we wake up and realize that a corporate welfare state is not a healthy one.

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