Drawing A Line Between Private And Public Interests. Steve Williamson welcomes Donald Cohen, co-author of The Privatization of Everything. How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back.
Over a period of decades, special interests have succeeded in demonizing government and increasing the privatization of public resources – roads and bridges, schools, prisons, communications, the Internet, and more. While Cohen recognizes the positive role that corporations can play in our society. He says they need regulation. That’s because corporations do not necessarily operate in the public interest. Their first responsibility is to their bottom lines. They simply see massive spending on such things as infrastructure and education as an opportunity.
Though it’s tempting to think that privatization will save money, Cohen explains that there is only one place to get money to do things – from us. Whether it’s through taxes, tolls, or fees, the public pays for the things we need and use. Moreover, he says the government doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the things it does well, such as ensuring clean water, clean air, safe food and drugs, and developing technology like the Internet and smartphones.
Cohen notes that free market forces have attacked government for forty years. They played the long game. He asks: “For those of us who have a different set of beliefs, what is our long game?”