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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Trouble With Trump's Infrastructure Plan

In order to further reduce taxes while maintaining promises to rebuild infrastructure, Trump is touting  public-private partnerships or, in the case of the FAA, replacing it with a privately run entity.

Trump is certainly not the first President to replace government provided goods and services with those from the private sector. During the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, Bush greatly increased the use of private contractors to provide services formerly provided by our troops. This provided a boon in profits for corporations like Haliburton including its subsidiaries like Kellog, Brown and Root.  But along with the profits came corruption (https://www.democracynow.org/2003/12/12/halliburton_and_private_military_contractors_strike ).

As a college instructor, I was occasionally asked to be a reference for students who were applying for jobs that required security clearances. And one of the things that disturbed me is that more often than not, those interviewing me for the security clearances were actually employed by corporations rather than the government. Even though many of those interviewers would wear uniforms to the interviews,  their paycheck came from a corporation. And so the question I would ask myself is this: Were those interviewing me more loyal to the government or to the party that signed their paychecks?

So we come to President Trump's infrastructure plan that is long on public-private partnerships and short on government funding. It isn't that public-private partnerships have never been successful (click here for an example). But some kinds of public-private partnerships struggle to succeed (click here for an example). So public-private partnerships have a mixed record. Thus, we have to ask, as I would with the government's use of private contractors to help give security clearances, where is the first loyalty of those private sector participants in these partnerships? Is their first loyalty in serving the people or in serving those who write their paychecks?

Certainly government provided services do not always provide the quality that they are suppose to. However, there is a difference between the indifference of individuals in an organization and the split loyalty of the organization as a whole. To further complicate matters, Trump promises to cut regulations that would slow down the work of these private sector partners in rebuilding our infrastructure. But what regulations are being cut? Are they safety regulations? Are they worker protection regulations? Are they environmental protection regulations?

The whole ethic behind transferring the work from the government to the private sector is to reduce the taxes paid by the taxpayer. But think about the set of values that go along with that. The public is now promised a partially free lunch. But who is the primary beneficiary of that lunch? For if it is those in the private sector, then has the public interest been sold to enrich a few from the private sector? And will the first loyalty for many from the private sector be to profits? Meanwhile, the public has exhibited less community participation and thus are less connected with others in an effort save on one's own taxes.

In addition, those who benefit the most when taxes are cut, especially under Republican plans, are not individuals, but corporations and thus the wealthy. Isn't this is the impetus behind not just public-private partnerships under Trump, along with his mass cutting of regulations as well as his plans to cut taxes on the wealthy. In essence, what we are seeing is not just an Ayn Rand 'Atlas Shrugged' coup in our government, we are told to value lower taxes more than being concerned with how our taxes help society as a whole. And while paying less in taxes, we are put in the place of being more and more dependent on corporations who do not answer to democratic processes. And, just as with the Republican mantra about big government, the more we are dependent on the corporations of wealthy elites from the private sector, the more control they have over us. For we have already seen a mass transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private sector in different areas such as the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, and in the healthcare industry as well as our financial sector. And none of that includes the building of Trump's Wall. At what point do we become alarmed at our dependence on corporate elites as we are told to be on guard against big government?

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