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Privatization and its discontents.

Kozinski, Alex
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Emory Law Journal. 63:263-282.

Public institutions are public for a reason. Sometimes, it’s because of the
tragedy of the commons. We all need clean air and feel that the governing
rules should be written with public input and enforced by a politically
accountable entity, so we established the EPA. Sometimes, it’s a collective
action problem. We all need national defense and want to ensure that military
power is used at the direction of our elected, civilian commanders, so we
formed a public military. And sometimes, it’s a moral sensibility. We want to
deter crime and punish criminals, but we don’t want victims to exact private
Privatizing such core government functions can give us some gains in
efficiency, but we risk forfeiting the benefits of the institutions’ public
character-in particular, equality and accountability. This Article will focus
on areas where the pressure to privatize and the challenges to equality and
accountability are most acute-education, prisons, the military, and the justice
system. By focusing on each of these in turn, we hope to highlight some of the
pitfalls of privatization and suggest some ways to avoid them. (excerpt)


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