Public-Private Partnership Is Not Privatization

by Brian Irving
LPNC Communications Director

Leaving aside the observation that the term “public-private” partnership is an oxymoron, the fact is that such an arrangement is merely a cover for corporate welfare.

The proposal by Gov. Pat McCrory's Department of Commerce to “privatize” several functions is a case in point. Republicans either are afraid to stand up for the values they supposedly believe in, or do not understand what “private” means. (“Speed, sweep of NC Commerce restructuring raise concerns,” News & Observer, Dec. 6)

Using “authority” supposedly granted in a brief, vaguely worded section in the budget bill – and guidelines in a bill that did not even pass the General Assembly – Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker created a public-private partnership called the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

The plan would move five divisions to the partnership: Business Development; Marketing; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; International Trade and Investment; and Travel & Tourism, Film and Sports Development, not including welcome center operations.

Turning an activity government has no business doing in the first place over to a private organization is not privatization. Privatization is ending government activities it should not be doing, and letting the free market decide whether that function needs to be done, and how it should be done.

Government exists to protect individual rights. Libertarians insist on returning to this simple and elegant principal.

All other functions and activities are better accomplished by private companies eager to offer services to willing customers. The American experience demonstrates that free individuals, acting in their mutual interest and unhampered by government rules and regulations can and will provide better services than government. Indeed, self-reliance is the essence of Americanism.

The Libertarian formula for privatization of government services is simply a process of getting the government out of certain businesses and allowing private companies to provide services to paying customers. It doesn’t mean having the government hire or contract out services. Privatization means letting free market competition work, so that people can obtain better services and lower prices.

The free market is far more efficient than government at deciding which businesses most benefit North Carolinians. Taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize, or be given as incentives, to any business. Our state would be best served by a truly free market, not a market in which politically connected corporations or “public-private partnerships” get huge unfair advantages.

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