Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Liberal Bloggers Wrong on Private Vice & Public Virtue

I haven't been in the Milwaukee County Courthouse, ever, but to hear Capper tell it Scott Walker's plan to privatize housekeeping services at the courthouse has resulted in a breakdown of social norms and near anarchy!

Now we have Chris Liebenthal reporting on the foodservice at Milwaukee County's Behavioral Health Division:

I was able to verify today that there was an incident a couple of weeks ago, when one of the trays brought to a patient was infested with bugs, reportedly maggots.

This is not only outrageous, but it completely unacceptable!

Fortunately, a county worker spotted this before it was served.
As if county workers are some type of superhero keeping the world safe from maggot-infested private sector food.

Reading these reports I couldn't help but desperately wish to tell both of these guys that as a private sector worker, I would never serve bug-infested food to someone and if I was paid to clean the toilets at the courthouse, then that is what I would do. My wife has, in fact, previously served as a private sector worker in the health care industry, and she too would never have served anyone food that was bug-infested. This is important since Liebenthal's tale of horror took place in a hospital setting.

The fact of the matter is that public sector employees don't have a monopoly on virtue and private sector employees certainly don't have a monopoly on vice. There are people who do a terrible job and those that do excellent work in both the public and private sectors.

It's important to say that there are clearly some areas where privatization of government duties is not appropriate. The recent revelations about activities by Blackwater are illustrative. We the people grant a monopoly on coercion to the government in return for security. For the government to cede this to the private sector is a grave threat to liberty and should be resisted as such.

Cleaning the toilets at the courthouse, not so much.

In fact, I would argue that no compelling case can be made that either of these functions have to be performed by county employees. This leaves filling union coffers and increasing bargaining power as the only arguments for keeping these functions in the public sector. Neither of which are very convincing.

Even liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias can appreciate the distinction between essential public and private responsibilities:
Robust disagreement exists about whether public education should be provided exclusively through government-managed public schools or also through government-funded and government-regulated privately-managed charter schools, but nobody thinks it’s objectionable for public schools to buy desks from private desk-makers. [E.A]
Nobody except Capper and Liebenthal apparently. These gentlemen can continue to beat the anti-privatization, anti-Walker drum, they just shouldn't expect me, or anyone else, to get up and dance.

***Update - Someone a little smarter than me just reminded me that Capper is Chris Liebenthal. The way I wrote this it sounds like they are two different people! Talk about cognitive dissidence.

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

I would add this:

Reports from Liebenthal should be VIGOROUSLY fact-checked. There are plenty of false-flag opportunities enjoyed by AFSCME.