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The Peril of Privatization

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As a Ron Paul supporter, I am going to do something very risky, if not ideologically suicidal. I am going to paint for you a picture that you may not want to see, and may not want to believe.

Imagine a world where everything is owned: the land, the water, and the air.

Ownership is the right of influence. When you own something you can do what you will with it. Nobody can tell you otherwise. If you save all your money and buy a Porsche, you can drive it off a cliff for all we care. It is yours, and being yours, it escapes our influence.

In a corporation, decisions are made through ownership percentage of the company. If you and I, together, own 51% of our company, we can institute any corporate policy or bylaws we want. But I ask you, how many of us own 51% of Exxon, or Merrill Lynch, or Monsanto? How many of us have ever sat in on a board meeting for Disney, or Microsoft, or K-Mart? Chances are, you have not, and as long as you don’t own enough of the company, you will never be invited. You will never have influence. That is ownership: right of influence.

Granted, the consumer has, at best, a secondary influence. Corporations require income and income requires customers. Yet even at this level, our amount of influence is dependent on a dollar amount. If a small group of angry consumers boycotts Fox News, while Fox News rakes in millions from their advertisers, who is more in control of what Fox News does? If a corporation puts into the market a product full of harmful materials, knowing that they are harmful, keeping such knowledge from the public, knowing that the legal structure of their corporation would insulate them from personal liability, what influence does the consumer have to stop from being exposed to the harmful material? Virtually none. They can only react after they are harmed. When they rise up against the evil company, investors have already been tipped-off to the scandal. They sell their shares and the price of the stock implodes — but the investors walk away with their returns, ready to invest in the next growth-based business scheme. The workers are out of a job, but they were mechanisms of profit, and profit was made.

Imagine a world where everything is owned: not by you, but by one of these companies. Imagine that the presiding authority over the water you drink, or the air you breathe is owned by somebody else, and its use had to be commercially negotiated: that you drink because you have permission to drink, or breathe air because you have permission to breathe it.

What else is a license than merely formal arrangements of permission? When you buy a $0.99 song on iTunes, its not merely the bandwidth you are paying for, or even the royalty to the artist. You are purchasing a license — you are purchasing permission from the owner of the music, the record company, to play and store the music on your computer and iPod.

Imagine a world where the central systems of society were privatized in this fashion: they are owned, not by you, and provided through private permission.

What else is Despotism than a society where everything that is done, is done with permission of the elite? What else is Despotism than the privatization of society?

I stand for many kinds of socialism. Democracy, civil rights and liberties are socialized permissions. To say, “I am an American, therefore I have rights!” is not because Micky Mouse gave you a good deal on them. Our inalienable rights are the opposite of privatization: our Bill of Rights recognizes that some things cannot be owned and should not be owned. The Bill of Rights and the blessings of liberty are a socialized permission: a commonwealth privilege: a public property in the purest sense of the term. That, in our Republic, you will always own the permission to influence policy through ballot boxes, it does not matter how you are born or how much money you have. That you do not need to climb a corporate structure, amass wealth, and purchase your influence over society: that you have it as birthright, and most importantly, that no man, woman or child has more right than any other before the equal protection of the law.

That is socialism that I stand for. When Ron Paul takes stance against the Civil Rights act, he does so through a principled approach that gives canned answers, not a critical approach. His libertarian leanings give him answers to questions that deserve more than canned responses. While I will stand by Ron Paul, I will not support his principled suggestion that we should leave it to privatization to create equality.

Freedom is achieved wherever ownership is erased.

Written by Jonathan Mark

January 2, 2012 at 11:04 pm