Published on
The Capital Times (Wisconsin)

Dear States, Watch Out for the Privatizers

Jack Lohman

State after state is reporting dire financial conditions - California, Illinois, New Jersey, and even our own Wisconsin. The losses are so deep that only  bankruptcy seems an option. But wait - there's another ploy coming to a theater near you! They've been preparing the soil and soon they'll spring it on us.

It's called privatizing.

It's always the same false claim: Private is more efficient than public. The public unions are impossible to work with, they'll say, and we have a corporation that can save us dollars.

Rarely is that true, especially after they add all of the exorbitant salaries, bonuses, shareholder profits, marketing and political bribes that must be passed on to the taxpayer. These costs usually far exceed government waste, unless offset by egregiously low salaries that further harm the economy.

Need proof? Privatized Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers 17 percent more than government Medicare, which provides care to 80 percent of our seniors. Privatized Blackwater troops in the Mideast cost five times what U.S. troops cost. But Blackwater executives give campaign dollars and our troops don't, so what else would you expect?

Politicians now have us right where they want us: desperate.

They'll take state assets - say, roads - and lease them to a private company, which will then add tolls and recoup their investment in 10 years and pocket the profits thereafter. And part of those profits will go to the friendly politicians.

Or the politicians will sell state-owned buildings and then lease them back so the private company can make the profits from the taxpayers. Or farm out housekeeping and security services to for-profit companies, as was done by Gov.-elect Scott Walker in Milwaukee.


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Walker, as Milwaukee County executive, proposed leasing out Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport and then leasing it back to help the county financially. Fortunately, he was elected governor before that could be pulled off, but now the state must contend with similar crazy ideas. No successful airport privatizations have been implemented nationally, and higher airport and traveler fees would have been necessary.

It's the same old story, but will we ever learn?

We voters are too hung up on "our side" being right and "their side" being wrong, when in fact BOTH sides are corrupt. Republicans hate Democrats -- or the reverse -- when in fact we should be taxpayers who hate crooked politicians who bargain away our assets. And as long as we battle each other they are free to give away the store.

Politicians want us to believe that they have a handle on this whole economy thing, but they don't. All they know is that the guy sending the campaign check wants this or that, and if the politician wants the checks to continue, that guy will get his wish.

How much deeper into our pockets will we allow? Now is the time to say stop!

State assets are now on the line, and next comes privatizing water rights. Food is some ways off because family farms haven't all been bought off yet, but that time will come. Unless we have the gumption to stop the drain. NOW!

We must have 100 percent political turnover every two years until we get the politicians off the corporate dole.

Jack Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate and author of “Politicians: Owned and Operated by Corporate America.” He is publisher of and can be reached at

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