Privatization

Truth-Out Makes Case for Garden State Privatization

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Ellen Dannin doesn't need facts. She's got a big book.

In a very late hit on Gov. Chris Christie's New Jersey Privatization Task Force, Truth-Out's Ellen Dannin questions the $210 million in savings the task force's 10-month-old report [pdf] estimates the state would realize by selling off some government services: 

On page 14 the report says it did no analysis "due not only to the fact that the actual cost of a privatized alternative will often not be known until the end of a full fledged competitive bidding process, but also because New Jersey state government agencies have difficulty calculating with precision the full cost of functions currently performed at the state level." So, the sunny claims of big savings for the people of New Jersey are a guestimate, at best. And "To Be Decided" is the most accurate statement in the report.

With this cleverly selected caveat, Dannin makes the stealth case for privatization. The quoted matter states the central reason a public bidding process is preferable to the status quo: that it would allow competition for the state's very scarce dollars. 

Even more deftly understated is Dannin's reference to the real scandal here: New Jersey's government employees are already having "difficulty calculating with precision the full costs" of functions they are currently being paid to perform. Every New Jerseyan should be outraged by this cavalier approach to spending the people's money, and Truth-Out should be commended for providing supporting evidence for Christie's reform effort.

Cleverest of all is the article's red-herring lead. In fact the privatization task force did crunch the numbers for 100 percent of its claimed savings. The itemization leaves all the TBDs out of its total. Counting just the substantiated numbers, we get to $210.14 million, which the task force modestly describes as "$210 million+." Any savings from the TBDs would be on top of this. Thanks to Truth-Out for highlighting the fact that Christie's privatization team, unlike New Jersey's government employees, is scrupulous about substantiating its claims.