Saturday, March 10, 2007

Troops victimized by privatization of services on all fronts

Privatization of the maintainence force at Walter Reed is under the microscope today. It turns out under pressure from the OMB, the hospital was forced to give the contract for services to a Halliburton subsidary company. For reasons that are unclear, the company took a whole year to take over the project and in the interim over half of the existing staff quit and weren't replaced.

The usual suspects are touting this as proof it was the Army's fault and not an indictment of how inefficient and costly privatization is to the taxpayer but one must ask why the big delay? I'm always being told by White House supporters that the reason we have to give these contracts to Halliburton is because they're the only ones with a sufficiently large infrastructure to manage them. It doesn't strike me as good management to take a year to figure out how to do the job.

Furthermore, why didn't the Army replace the workers in the interim? Could it be because their budget has been cut to the bone in favor of spending on orders to crony contrators who have delivered services of dubious value to our troops? The billions in unaccounted spending in Iraq surely could have hired a whole lot of janitors.

As we've seen in Iraq and we can still see in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, privatization hasn't delivered better services and it allows spending to occur without any meaningful citizen oversight. But it surely has created a few more of those top 1% income earners in the CEO class at the expense of the working class taxpayer. Our war wounded at home are just more collateral damage in the administration's war against transparency in our government processes.

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