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Opening Arguments

Private ayes

If  "Who is going to push for more government and who is going to push for less government?" is important to you, this should be a big help in deciding your choice in the governor's race:


Indiana Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Gregg said he opposes privatizing state government tasks, while the Republican candidate,Mike Pence, is more open to it, their campaigns said Thursday.

"Mike Pence believes partnering with service providers can produce great results for taxpayers. All potential partnerships should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but we should keep an open mind," said Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault.

Meanwhile, Gregg, a former Indiana House speaker who works for a law firm that benefits from state agencies farming out some of their legal and lobbying work, "generally, he does not support privatization," said his spokeswoman, Megan Jacobs.

The Libertarian candidate for governor, former "Survivor" star Rupert Boneham, favors privatization in some instances but wants increased transparency, said his campaign manager, Evan McMahon.

Guess what my position is. No, really, go ahead, take a stab at it.

A series of questions should be asked about any service being provided by government (and let's not even think about trying to justify any new services): 1) Is this really a needed service rather than something we're just providing out of habit? 2) Is it a service that won't be available if government doesn't provide it? 3) If yes to the first two questions, is the way we're handling it now the best way to handle it?

Just answering those three questions should lead even a moderately thoughtful person to the conclusion that there could be a lot more privatization than there is. And we should be more suspicious of those who resist it mightily than those who push for it strongly. The grow-government types (who probably would resent being called that) hate the idea of privatization because it means somebody, somewhere, might actually make a profit from providing a needed public service. Never mind that the profit motive might actually be an incentive to provide the service more efficiently. Can't let the evil corporate bastards get the idea they can make a buck from serving humanity.

This is an especially relevant topic for the Indiana gubernatorial race. Stephen Goldsmith, who took office as mayor of Indianapolis in  1992, was a privatization pioneer. He explains:

So much of our rhetoric revolved around value added terms. So when we spend a tax dollar, how are we sure that we are getting a dollar in value on that purchase? I ran on that platform.

Essentially we did that through privatization, although we now call it competition because we are allowing our employees to compete. We have driven down the operating cost of government by about $125 million, reduced the non-public safety public employee force by 30 percent and transferred the savings into infrastructure. We're doing a $500 million building better neighborhoods program with no new property taxes from the savings produced through competition.