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Libertarianism and Privatization

Robert Dimuro

Posted on August 11, 2019 14:59

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Should making a profit be the goal of every societal function?

One way to think about libertarianism is that it’s the belief that the privatization of industries and institutions should take the place of government as it exists today in the US. The notion that whatever can be done by the private sector should be done by the private sector is hard to argue against, as the public sector is rife with waste, mismanagement, and poor quality. The best examples of this are the public education system, which, in most cases, is far inferior to private school systems across the nation, and the United States Postal Service, which can’t compare to the service provided by UPS or FedEx.

However, imagine a society stripped of basic government services and institutions, such as the police department or road system. The main problem with this idea is that profit cannot be the goal of every societal function.

A private police force would serve the highest bidders rather than provide guaranteed and equal service to all citizens, stripping them of their right to equal protection under the law. Moreover, competing police forces, working directly for certain individuals, would vie for power in particular regions, essentially leading to tribal anarchy.

Private road owners would be able to dictate who can access their roads and at what price, stripping citizens of their right to travel freely within their own nation. Clearly, there are just basic necessities in society to which everyone should have equal access. 

One doesn’t even need to imagine hypothetical situations in order to understand the potential problems of universal privatization. For example, we actually have private prisons in America, which is pretty hard to believe. Private prisons were essentially a direct result of the War on Drugs, which saw the inmate population skyrocket beyond the capacity of the existing prison system.

It should be clear that private prisons create an incentive structure that is exactly the opposite of what it should be. Private prisons benefit financially from housing more inmates, and since their goal is to increase profit margins, they’re not incentivized to provide adequate services to their inmates and rehabilitate them back into society. In fact, if private prisons were completely effective in these measures, they would be putting themselves out of business.

It’s no wonder why prison corporations are opposed to the legalization of marijuana, and it’s extremely likely that much of their lobbying efforts and campaign contributions are geared towards anti-drug initiatives and stricter sentencing for crimes. In context, it’s paradoxical for any libertarian to favor the existence of private prisons over public ones - they clearly undermine the individual rights that libertarians so ardently defend.

The common thread I wish to sew here is that although libertarians see taxation as theft and an infringement upon individual liberty, we can see how taking this principle too far is actually counter-productive to the effort to protect our freedoms. Justice and equal rights cannot be realized in a society in which private entities can profit from undermining these values.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on August 11, 2019 14:59

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Source: The Blaze

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