Some interesting comments from “Dick Moore” on Facebook.
I wanted to write a little bit about the question of ‘social services’ provided by the State as alleged ‘alternatives’ to for-profit systems.
To start with I will admit (as more sophisticated libertarians do) that really-existing capitalism and its major appendages – the international joint-stock corporation – benefit in a myriad of ways from state intervention, both direct (subsidy, tariff and government contracts) as well as indirect (the creation of ‘friendly business environments’ in foreign lands through political pressure by the American state, intellectual property, and so forth). Existing corporations, even if they provide really valuable services, are almost certainly far more profitable and extensive that would be possible in a market of free competition and without State control of access to credit and so forth.
Many liberals and socialists demand, as an antidote, that many social services should be provided by the government rather than left to the whims of the corporate oligarchy.
‘Obamacare’ has resulted in the funneling of money into huge insurance companies and a further disconnection between patients and care providers, with no apparent improvement in the cost or availability of medical care. After the failure of Obamacare (which even some leftists admit) the solution usually offered is a single-payer system, that is full state operation of medical services, or at least a system of free state-run hospitals for those who cannot afford private services.
Yet is this really an antidote? The almost entirely state-operated school system provides billions a year to corporations – through construction contracts, purchase of computers, purchase of Microsoft Windows, purchase of internet access through FCC-regulated-and-connected agencies such as Time-Warner. And because of this these corporations are raking in huge sums of money without being responsible, while schools can draw potentially infinite funds without any reference to outcomes.
Rather than making schooling more available and improving the competitive abilities of the poor, state schools actually provide more profitable sources of revenue than direct operation by private enterprise, with essentially zero-accountability. A private school, however much it may benefit from state interference and largesse, nonetheless cannot simply squander all its money, build useless and unsafe environments, and flip the middle finger at the parents and children with no repercussions. Yet this is exactly what local, government-run schools are like. They provide just as much money to private-sector oligarchs (if not more) with no possibility of bankruptcy for malinvestment or accountability for failure. In addition these state-subsidized schools enforce ‘learning’ that is entirely directed at creating uniform worker drones for mass corporate operations, whether flipping burgers or keying on computers. By transferring the responsibility of education from parents and private enterprise to the State the corporate plutocracy has also transferred the costs of training and filtering employees to the State school apparatus.
The same is doubtless true of state medical monopolies – the equipment required to operate a hospital is still bought from private, for-profit corporations; the hospitals are built by private, for-profit corporations, the doctors are trained at what are essentially private, for-profit corporations. The money is still going to essentially the same group of millionaire and billionaire corporations, only without the need to make sure the hospital is built or operated in any sane way, without the need to make sure the services provided actually correspond to any demand for them.
Far from providing an ‘antidote’ or solution to corporate oligarchies, nationalization of economic sectors actually increases the profitability while decreasing the liability of the plutocratic overlords.
The only ‘solution’ to this would be to monopolize into the hands of the state all functions of economic activity, which will invariably result in unlimited tyranny – there is no ‘freedom’ when a centralized, armed, and legally unimpeachable body has the right to distribute and withold all goods, to assign and dismiss all workers, to operate and close all facilities of production and distribution.
State provision of services, therefore, cannot but lead to either further strengthening of the capitalist super-class or unlimited totalitarian police states.