Saturday, December 12, 2009

Outsourcing our accountability

When did we decide as a country to outsource our governmental functions to private enterprise? Sure, the eight years of the Bush Jr. administration were the heyday of privatization, but the camel's nose was under the tent even before that. The argument is made time and time again that private enterprise can do the jobs cheaper and more efficiently. That might possibly be true in some cases, AS LONG AS THERE IS STRONG GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT LOOKING OUT FOR OUR INTERESTS.

The problem has been that the oversight has been lacking, because our representatives in Washington have been bought by those private interests who receive the valuable contracts and they have ensured that there will be no effective policing of the contracts. And so we have situations like the murderous rampage of Blackwater (now Xe) employees killing innocents in Iraq, for which no one yet has truly been held accountable. Blackwater employees were also contracted to guard the embassy in Kabul. You cannot convince me that, even with the best of will, they could have done that with greater effectiveness and efficiency than U.S. Marines who in another time and political climate would have been charged with that task. But, in fact, these guys went completely rogue, with partying that would have put Caligula to shame. (Okay, maybe not Caligula, but anyone with even a minimal moral compass.)

We need to take our governmental functions back from the contractors who are accountable to nobody. Governmental employees, either civilian or military, who are accountable, through their chains of command, ultimately to the people, are the appropriate personnel to carry out the actions that are deemed necessary by the government. This is one instance when going back to the practices of the "good old days" is a very good idea.

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