Sunday, September 18, 2011

Economics: Government Workers Cost Taxpayers Less

There is a disconnect between economics and privatization that feels and sounds as though it is being done on purpose.  It does not take a genius to recognize that anything that is 'for profit' needs to cost a lot more than something done in the public interest without any expectation for remuneration.

Our military personnel works for little money and do the jobs they were trained to do.  They are in the line of combat with shoddy equipment and little appreciation from a public that is jaded, saddened and just want them home.

The, so called, contractors have benefited from the same military training, and should be called mercenaries, because that is exactly what they are.  Black Water, now going by the nondescript name, Xe is composed primarily of former military personnel.  They cost the tax payers a bundle and stand alongside enlisted military personnel with better equipment and salaries upwards of $100,000 a year.  Our typical G.I. earns a fraction of that and they are the ones putting their lives on the line.

It was not a contractor that took down Bin Ladin or the Somali pirates, but we gloss over those facts because they don't suit the narrative of privatizing every aspect of our government.

What other vendors are there? - Well, there are contractors to wash the uniforms of our men and women on the field, weird huh?.  There was a time when the laundry, peeling of potatoes and all other chores required by the military was done by military personnel,  unfortunately, big corporations do those, and many other jobs, at an enormous cost to the tax payers and doing a lousy job in the process.

As related to me four years ago:  The laundry issue rankles a friend of mine because his son, now home from several tours in Iraq and suffering from stress and other issues, was prohibited from washing his own uniform.  All had to be sent to the laundry 'contractor' who would return their clothes unwashed most of the time.  By the time they got them, they had been stinking in a bag for weeks and they had to wear them because there is nothing else to wear.

Iraq: triple digit temperatures, dust, dirt, sweat - Nice!

Surely there are other stories about 'contractors' out there and you are welcome to share them in the comments section, but we need to move on to other types of contractors and how much they are costing you and me.

FEMA under George W. Bush: Employees told to train private sector employees who would then get jobs supervising the people they trained.  Cha - Ching! - Keep this in mind the next time someone bought and paid for by corporations starts touting how our emergency response system should be handed over to the private sector.

Keep it in mind every time you see the vilification of fire fighters, teachers and government workers in general.  It all started to come to blows at the state government level, but they are moving up the ladder to the Federal government.  Keep in mind Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Florida and all others not making the news cycle.

Keep in mind the privatization of air traffic controllers that started with Reagan disregarding their collective bargaining rights and things have gone downhill for them (and us, because we fly) since then.  Long shifts, no help and tons of stress.  Nice working environment for those who have to keep thousands of airplanes in the air every minute of their working hours!

Keep in mind Florida's governor Rick Scott, using his position to mandate drug testing of people receiving government checks (welfare, unemployment, etc).  It is just a coincidence that the medical testing facilities and ancillary services are owned by him, or he has a large stake in those companies.  (But let's privatize everything with tax payer dollars, right?)

Keep these thing in mind when you hear: "government bad" "Private companies do a better job" and follow the money.  Your tax payer dollars, that is.

KBR providing logistics to the military costs us a bundle.  This is work our military is quite capable of doing at a fraction of the cost.

Today, I want to give you a link to go to and read a full account of what it is costing us tax payers to 'outsource' to private companies and you decide if privatization of our government is something you are for or against. as reported by Dina Rasor , I have not even touched the surface of what is contained in Dina Rasor's report.  Please read to get a better sense of how our tax payer dollars are being wasted.

Have you heard about the post office going broke? - Me too, so I had to look into that.

Short version and incomplete information and misinformation:

The postal service is going broke.  Private companies can do a better job.  The postal service has little to do because people pay their bills on line and use e-mail instead of envelopes and letter.  It is cheaper to mail all our packages through UPS or FedEx.

Longer version:

The postal service was doing just fine but Congress decided to enact a law in 2006 that would force the United Postal Service to save up enough money to cover the health benefits of retirees for future employees for the next 70 years within a 10 year span.  `Sec. 8909a. Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (Scroll down towards the bottom of the page to see the schedule of payments) 

Do private companies do this? of course not.  Who in their right mind would save up retirement funds for A) people who have not been born yet, and B) employees they may not need to hire.  

This is just another piggy bank that is ripe for the taking (just like Social Security and Medicare) and would fund many private enterprises once the postal service has been dissolved or downsized to the point that they accept only packages to be handled by UPS or FedEx.  - (I think Ben Franklin is turning over in his grave right now)

The post office is forced to take packages that Fed Ex and UPS don't want to deliver because it is out of the way or not cost effective.  Did you know this? They also deliver packages that are too heavy for Fed Ex or UPS to handle.

Submitting this information for your consideration and determination on what, if anything, should be entrusted to private companies to handle on our collective behalf.


I am looking for some facts and figures of UPS being involved in this postal mess because I wanted to fact-check statements before I put them here.  I will add to it as soon as I find it, but for a comprehensive involvement of Rep. Issa's and his band of thieves, you can read Postal Workers: The Last Union.

Looking forward to your intelligent comments.

Images: You got mail by Felixco, Inc. / US. 3rd Batallion by U.S. Marine Corps by Lance Cpl. James F. Clinne II (public domain)


skbeal said...

I am married to a man who spent over 20 years in the military. The shoddy treatment and pay of military personnel extends to retirees. Another thing is that retired military personnel have to pay tax on their retirement income. Do politicians pay as much tax on their substantial retirement pay as retired soldiers do?

I am beginning to think we need a huge government overhaul and it should start in the General Accounting Office (GAO.)

Anonymous said...

I am so depressed by this blog because you know its fueled by the lie that private enterprise is so much more efficient than govt and hence has to be paid many more times than it would cost govt to do the same job.

I agree with skbeal too.

All this logic and thinking along with govt & private enterprise needs to be overhauled.

- marie re67u

sandinbrick said...

Under the Republicans, they want to privatize everything. This is for the purpose of getting rid of all Unions. That is clear. The post office is just another in line to be abolished and privatized with no pensions, low wages and no hours of service. (OT). As for the contractors now being in Iraq, Afganistan, it was an excuse after the draft was eliminated. The Republican get stronger every day. But look at the money behind them. some from foreign countries. If President Obama get primaried, like I hear the far left tweet about, The Repubs will surely win Obama's office, not the one that will primary him. Like Sanders, he is a socialist and proud of it. I cry every night how we are losing, though I show strength on twitters. Thanks Olivia, for the link, so I will be able to express my thoughts.

Olivia Emisar said...


If it is any comfort, it seems "the far left" will vote for President Obama and concentrate on putting in place progressive/liberal dems in Congress. I don't think they will primary the President (stupid move) or sit on their hands this election cycle.

Bear in mind that all congressional seats are up for grabs too and there is much work to do in that area.

The second thing I wanted to address, is that many who claim to be far left progressives are nothing more that wolfs in sheep's clothing. They claim to be something that they are not, but that is the game the other side plays.

Don't cry, we are going to be fine. There is still water left in the glass :-)

Phil said...

The monetary and fairness issues are bad enough but I think worst of all is how use of contractors directly affects actual policy. Bring 100K contractors into a war and create a multi-billion dollar revenue stream for a company like Bechtel and what do you think they're working on the next day after landing that contract? How to keep expanding it! In the world of war contracting, war expansion becomes what a nice normal private company would call market stimulation. A big chunk of change gets allocated for lobbying efforts that not only try to ensure your company keeps its competitive position, but that the war keeps going, and is actually expanded. I'm convinced this is one of the reasons that we turned what could have been a relatively small operation in Afghanistan and a military mistake in Iraq into huge nation-building nightmares. Nobody can describe what we want to accomplish or how long it will take but the money keeps flowing. Some on the right are claiming we need to be there as long as 40 years! The 40 year comment wasn't even made by a politician but by a "historian", Nial Ferguson, a "caliphate" promoter who gets a great deal of airtime. I wouldn't be surprised if his historical perspective has been tainted by some wartime payola. The point is, create corporate revenue streams, and corporations will need to maintain and expand them - that's just what they do. But yeah, corporations are people, right?