Sunday, December 04, 2016

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Simon Enoch and Christine Saulnier examine how P3s are used to privilege corporate profits over the public interest:
The CCPA has published numerous publications on the question of P3s because they have been so pervasive and so riddled with problems. There have been books written. Our organization has even published helpful guidelines outlining the 10 questions that should be asked AND fully answered before entering into these partnerships. Never are all of these questions asked and rarely are they fully answered.

In November of last year, one such report, Privatization Nation, chronicled some of the most egregious failures of privatization in Canada in recent years. We thought this to be conclusive evidence that despite 30 years of experience governments rarely seem to get privatization right, and more often get it wrong with astonishing regularity.

Despite this record, the potential bonanza awaiting private contractors through the federal government’s public infrastructure bank has brought many of the same, discredited arguments in favour of P3s back into public debate. The most pervasive of late appears to be the argument that P3 contracts provide the requisite discipline for all players to ensure on-time and on-budget completion, while constraining politicians from meddling in project design and management. However, a recent study in the UK by the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants  found no evidence that P3s were more successful at delivering projects on time because they were P3s; rather they succeeded because of the detailed way the contracts were written. There is no reason why the same sort of pre-negotiations and safeguards could not be applied to projects financed in the conventional public build model. Indeed, it begs the question of why such conditions were not previously made in traditional public procurement contracts.
The bottom-line is this: public services and infrastructure are best financed and delivered by the public sector. Private industry has a key part to play in the design and construction of public infrastructure under contract. The ‘partnerships’ become much more complex and fraught when those contracts are expanded to include private financing and operations.

P3 contracts are by their nature undemocratic — commercial confidentiality and the protection of a private corporation’s private interests are convenient political tools used to trump the public interest EVERY TIME.
- Rich Puchalsky questions how neoliberalism has become a dominant economic and social paradigm when only a few (however well-resourced) people have any attachment to it, while lamenting the lack of an obvious left alternative. And Andrew Jackson argues that any changes from private-sector digital technology will fall short of leading to economic benefits that are either fairly shared or particularly substantial.  

- Meanwhile, Barry Ritholtz follows up on Seattle's increased minimum wage and finds - as pointed out by Jackson - that improved wages at the bottom of the income spectrum led to economic growth.

- Brett Norman reports on a Baltimore pediatric clinic's noteworthy work in systematically checking and applying social determinants of health as a basis for patient care.

- Finally, Chris Welzel and Russell Dalton examine the effects of citizen allegiance and assertiveness - and find that while both contribute to improved governance, citizens can achieve more improvement in policy outcomes through critical thinking and questioning than through passive obedience.

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