The Evil of Privatization


Illinois is planning to "privatize" its lottery, which it hopes will go for $10 billion or so. Opinion is divided as to whether this makes good fiscal sense; much depends on the future profitability of the lottery and whether the state could have made more money by hiring a private company to manage it rather than selling it outright. Morally, though, the sale is a disaster. It's bad enough when the government raises revenue by running a business that no one is allowed to compete with, especially the sort of business the government otherwise views as a vice to be discouraged or stamped out. (Liquor sales are another example.) It's worse when the government transfers this monopoly to a private company that will be even less accountable for how the business is run and the money is spent. The value of this "public asset" consists almost entirely of the ban on competition.