Out of Control Policy Blog

Sad state of affairs

Interested in tracking privatization news? The easiest way is to frequently check Reason.org–but the next best thing is to set up a Google News Alert. However, what you'll find in the daily reports is rather disheartening.

I get an email in my inbox every day with clippings of what's going on around the world related to privatization. The problem is that, as of late, the headlines are being dominated by foreign reports:

- Canadian holding company CanWest Global Communications, Inc says it might go private with this chain of newspapers and television stations;
- Korean President Lee Myung-bak continues to push his country towards privatizing all public firms that lose money;
- Austria has announced it is fully privatizing its national airline, Austrian Airlines;
- Even Saudi Arabia has allowed a private firm to forum and take over water supplies and sewage services for the country.

And these are just the top four headlines from my last email. What's going on in America? The Des Moines city council met Monday to discuss the possibility of privatizing the city's three golf courses.

Yes, it is a good thing that Des Moines has this option on the table. Golf course management clearly wasn't part of the founder's intent for the role of government. But it is disheartening to not see more. It is disheartening to see the bastion of capitalism being overshadowed by the rest of the world.

Des Moines has contracted out to let one of its three courses be managed by a private firm–and that is the only one that makes a profit. With this data the city council should not be considering privatization but should be begging for bidders. Taxpayers are covering the losses. That similar scenarios exist across America is a reflection of a backwards attitude that must be corrected.

Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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