Source: Ellen Dannin, Truthout, January 28, 2014
Privatization is often sold as providing higher quality services and infrastructure at lower cost. In fact, important costs are regularly overlooked. In other words, services and infrastructure have been privatized, even though keeping them public is the better choice….
…Other important costs caused by infrastructure privatization are easily overlooked, because of the length of the contracts, their impenetrable language and the need to think through how the contract terms would affect people, communities, investors and budgets. Not recognizing these as costs makes privatization more likely.
First, consider whether it matters that the cost of Adverse Action claims would mean fewer or no community street fairs. That may make people sad, but is their loss a cost to the public? It would be easy to say no, because those civic losses are not easily converted to money.
On the other hand, neighborhood events that bring people together promote community cohesion, pride and resilience, and provide more than just a pleasant time. Losing those events can degrade or even eliminate resources that support strong communities. …
Infrastructure 101: The Evolution of Building Big Things – Part 2: Adverse Events and Privatization Consultants
Source: Ellen Dannin, Truthout, January 15, 2014
Water privatization may not seem to have much in common with highway privatization, but contracts to privatize water, highways and other sorts of infrastructure are filled with “boilerplate” language, that is, each contract contains the same language, except for details such as the identities of the parties to the contract or issues specific to an industry or location. The proposed 2008 Pennsylvania Turnpike Contract is typical of infrastructure privatization contracts. The contract itself is 132 pages long. When all its attached documents are included, the total is 686 pages.
The boilerplate language makes the contracts easier to draft, but “easier to draft” does not mean easy to read or understand. In fact, infrastructure privatization contract language is unnecessarily hard to read. It may be that the contract drafters like to use legalese. The downside of the contract language is that people who do not work in the privatization industry, but who will be affected by privatization, will not understand the meaning and effects of the contracts….
Infrastructure 101: The Evolution of Building Big Things (Part 1)
Source: Ellen Dannin, Truthout, January 8, 2014
As this country’s public infrastructure crumbles, prominent organizations, such as Reason and its allies, strongly advocate using privatization to solve the problem. However, this country has a long and continuing history of successfully taking on big infrastructure projects through direct public support and funding – circumventing privatization while getting the job done well. As will be discussed next week in part two, the true cost of privatizing our roads, water and other infrastructure includes lost public control….