Why not sell all public assets and let business rule?

Frank Touby –


Is privatization of public assets the best way to hold down taxes and still provide the public with needed government services? Let’s see how this works.

From the conservative, far-right side of the question there’s this position:

Government always does things more expensively because it has union workers living in luxury and entitled bureaucrats who can be rewarded for being lazy and corrupt. The government doesn’t have to provide many services and should stick to running the military, the cops and leave it to the all-wise marketplace to run the remainder like a well-oiled machine cranking away on the fuel of free-enterprise competition.

From the leftwing comes this: All businesses are corrupt because they have little economic interest in the public good and are fixated on profit.

Either extreme can exist in a government but neither is an absolute certainty.

Let’s look at the conservative position first. For example, the 2006 strike by the Aggravating Transit Workers Union dumped huge costs and inconvenience on our city. It prompted the Dalton McGuinty regime in 2011 to outlaw strikes against essential services in Ontario. That was a good thing.

McGuinty, like his successor Premier Kathleen Wynne, is a Tory in disguise. But even Tories recognize there are some services government must provide the hoi polloi in order to keep the pitchforks in the sheds. And Wynne’s not-Tory disguise is just a domino mask from a masquerade ball.

She has a banker, Ed Clark, formerly top dog at TD, for her ”privatization czar” to oversee the sell-off of property which is yours as a citizen of Ontario.

As with the other Tories before her, Wynne would make losers of her constituents as did Mike Harris when he sold off our Highway 407 to a Spanish corporation.

When you consider that our beer marketing company is owned by foreign corporations, you can see where this is all headed.
Wynne, were she a liberal, would snatch that from their hops-laden corporate fists and give it the Ontario public who should rightly own it.

Mike Harris had a dream, while he was wrecking Toronto and much of the rest of the province, that he would create private hydro companies. He liked the corporate model and why not? It produces incentive-enriched fatcats on the payroll and bonus wagon. Mike did that while slashing entitlements to Ontario’s needy and diminishing education of our children.

The myth that private enterprise, acting in its own best interests, is the engine of economic efficiency and societal progress is just that: a myth.

You can see that in the way corporations are acting out in this era of low interest rates and high profits. They’re buying back their own shares at high prices that benefit shareholders.

What? You thought they’d use their profits to expand and hire more workers? Corporations work only for their shareholders. Workers are a cost of doing business and the fewer there are of those drags on the bottom line, the better it is for the shareholders.
Look at the hedge-fund hyenas. They’re called that because they get themselves on the boards of vulnerable companies and insist on selling off the corporate corpse’s assets to “enhance shareholder value” in a an orgy of feasting.

The fewer the assets, the fewer employees the victim company requires. Pink slips arrive shortly thereafter. Shareholders rejoice. Workers weep.

When Burger King bought Tim Horton’s a bunch of people were fired. The burger people were rationalizing their operation and some donut people bit the Whopper.

So the truth is that big corporations are bad for business. They outsource local jobs to cheap foreigners and free-trade deals make that a virtue.

Remember NAFTA? How’d that do for you? Our auto industry went far south. Foreign companies can sue our governments and win millions because their profits may have suffered by obeying our laws or regulations.

Wait until the big-corporation-monitored (and utterly secretive) Asian and European free-trade scams come on stream. Only the corporations and Harper’s crowd know what’s coming down because they are making it happen.

Kathleen and her Tories don’t have to rape us. But don’t hold your breath. It’s lately a tradition amongst those who call themselves liberals.

The actual Tories—Stephen Harper and his Mike Harris cabinet—have a lot more corporate wishes to fulfill for their foreign corporate masters. Among those would almost automatically to be to follow the U.S. model of getting prisons to pay for themselves and their private-sector owners.

After all, why should Canadians pay to support non-violent offenders who are sentenced to prison when they can support themselves at 25¢ an hour doing work for private prison corporations?

The Americans have made a lucrative industry out of privatizing their prisons or contracting out prison labour to corporations. That’s why the U.S. has more prisoners as a proportion of its population than any nation on earth. It’s a growth industry. Sure, it does compete with smaller corporations who pay union scale or even minimum wage to produce the same products, but think of the tax savings to the minimally employed American taxpayers who remain outside official prisons.

There are now more black slaves working in the U.S. prison industry than in all the antebellum U.S. South.

So how would this play out in Canada? It’s our native peoples, largely unsupported by their government, who would comprise the cannon fodder for a prison industrial complex bearing the Maple Leaf. They’re the Canadian n-word equivalent of black men in the U.S.

Yet we have billions of dollars to blow up people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other foreign lands where we support the U.S. arms industry’s marketing thrust.