In a recent post, we discussed the explosive growth in privatization of public services, including one town that recently privatized everything and everybody. Along similar lines, this week, the Wall Street Journal published a story about desperate state and local governments, squeezed by declining revenues, selling or leasing public property to private interests. The reporter notes:
Cities and states across the nation are selling and leasing everything from airports to zoos—a fire sale that could help plug budget holes now but worsen their financial woes over the long run.
The notion that we should cede public services to the private sector has assumed the status of quasi-religious dogma in recent years. There was a brief time during the earlier, more dire days of the current recession during which many began to question this market fundamentalism. Such dissent continues in some circles today. But you wouldn’t know it looking at actual policy.
Things may even be getting worse. Cash-strapped governments have stepped up efforts in a new area: privatization of public assets.