Thursday, October 14, 2010

The IZE Are On Us

Back when I was in school one of the things we all thought about, when not studying was how to have some fun.  We wanted to socialize with our friends.  As a typical male I may have lumped a few more things into that word but…
Basically being social was associated with being nice.  We tended to sublimate any untoward feelings or use little white lies rather than make others uncomfortable.
But contrary to popular belief by some uneducated and close-minded groups there is a process known as evolution.  And it is not limited to living creatures.  It is at work in our language as well.
The meanings of words have changed over the years to fit a current psyche.  Words such as ‘gay’ used to merely mean happy in the 1890’s.
Verbs have evolved.  Those words that described the act of doing something have seen a whole new group of words join their ranks.  By adding an ‘IZE’ suffix we change them into words that symbolize action.
One word we hear over and over again these days is used to describe the taking away of functions heretofore the responsibility of the government.
That word is ‘Privatize’ and it should scare the public into action.
Privatize is a simple word that implies that the private sector would be far better than the government at running whatever it is in question.  In many cases that could be true but it all depends on the how as well as the why and the collateral damage it may cause.
In many states across the nation our jails are now being run by private ‘for profit’ organizations.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
Perhaps Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer of the infamous Illegal Alien act would care to comment.
The private sector of which the proponents of privatization spout is not made up of all the little people like you and I but rather a small select group of well connected wealthy individuals with the cash and clout to effect the changes needed for transfers of ownership.
The battle over public and private is being fought on a tremendous number of fronts.
Some are easy to recognize since they affect our daily lives, others not so much.  But they all have one thing in common, they will return fantastic profits for the private sector owners once they are in full operation.
So what’s wrong with profits?
Isn’t this America?
Aren’t we the land of opportunity?
What are you, some kind of socialist?  (I love this last one because it has been given such a bad connotation when it’s actually a good thing when analyzed however that’s for another time.)
But in a country that professes to be run on a majority rule mentality should we not also worry about ‘the better good’ or ‘the will of the people?’
And again, when I say the people I am not talking about the would-be CEO and his board members.  Nor am I worried about their immediate families but rather the millions of citizens about to be affected by the simple sounding change of privatization.
On Long Island there has been talk about privatizing the bus system.
Does anyone believe that the end result will be lower fares for the basically poor and middle class users of that lifeline?
The buses will become a private business and unless that word has evolved it still means an entity whose function is to make money, and more money, and more money, etc. for its owners and shareholders.
And if the fares do not go down then there is another path they will likely take and that’s up.
Are we as a society prepared to add a few hundred or a few thousand more people to the ranks of the poor and unemployed merely because they couldn’t afford the bus fare needed to get to their jobs?
Kevin Hassett who writes for ‘Bloomberg Newsy’ is the director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI.)
Now before I examine the ups and downs of his proposal let’s first see what this gentleman stands for.
What exactly is the AEI?
Their website says among other things that they are in favor of democratic capitalism.  And if you go no further that will leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling about them.
But if you passed your second grade reading tests and are able to delve a bit farther down their list of wants and desires you will find that the group is mainly comprised of former George W. Bush officials.  These men are staunch conservatives and members of a political action group funding any and all issues from a “right leaning” point of view.
The fact that they claim to be non partisan is either laughable or fraudulent depending on how you read the law.
Now back to the current proposal to IZE the USPS.
First the GOOD:
The USPS employs nearly three quarters of a million workers!  These workers earn an average of around $83K per year.  That amount includes their salary and all the benefits that go with the job.  Unlike many other positions, especially those in Congress or on the boards of multi-national corporations there are no other hidden compensations for these workers.  To many $83K per year may seem high but it is an unnoticeable drop in the bucket to the people of AEI and others of their ilk.
Now the BAD:
The USPS currently expects to lose $6 Billion this year and is therefore seeking another increase in the price of a postage stamp.  It may even go up to as high as 50¢ shortly.
Mr. Hassett feels that if the Government sells the USPS to private investors (key word investors) they will unburden themselves from these hefty losses and reap the immediate benefit of a huge gain from the sale.
And finally the UGLY:
Mr. Hassett does not say that his plan would include the laying off of a tremendous number of these people but he implies as much with his innuendos about the high cost of labor and its effect on the high cost of a stamp.
I am only citing a couple of instances of privatization here and I did not even mention the Republican wet dream of privatizing Social Security but there is already a theme developing.  And it does not take a PhD in economics to see that the theme will run rampant throughout the menu of industries being targeted by groups such as the AEI.
In each and every case the end result of privatizing will be the loss of jobs!
And in each and every case how long does any sane individual believe it will be before the new owner-operators raise the prices on the products offered by their newest toys?
If we continue along this path we run the risk of using the suffix ‘IZE’ one more time and in a very disconcerting way when we 'euthanize'  our entire economy in favor of the greedy and the wealthy.


Robin said...

I hate to see ppl getting layed off! But the sad fact of life is we can not keep supporting so many public/ govt employees. The govt is trillions in debt and taxes are crushing the economy.

Something needs to be done to make the gvt more efficiant. When I go into the post office and get poor service and see the employees goofing off I don't have much simpathy. That said, overall the usps is quite efficient, <50 cents to mail a letter isa good deal. On the otherhand, when I have something important to mail I spend the$ 10 and use Fedex- Then I know it will get there. The usps just can not be trusted with something important, too many j-offs working there have caused me problems in the past.

This whole thing is mote anyways. Snail mail is dead-they will be out of business in a few years regardless of who owns them.

Cousin Bruce said...

Thanks for the comment.
There is no doubt that there are many problems at the USPS and there is no way they will all be fixed easily or ever but we must try.
That said the fact remains that email and texting etc. will continue to erode the system until it gently fades away and with it all those jobs. But to hasten it's demise by allowing some filthy rich greedy group of SOBs take it over would be a crime.
The goofing off is a huge problem and one I think is systemic in our public service arena. Workers who have deals that keep them shielded from fear of being fired will not overproduce and never overachieve.
And don't get me started on their pensions!
Thanks again for your thoughts!