As regular readers will know I have been critical of P3's, public private partnerships, from the Left. Now here is an interesting critique of them from the Liberaltarians around the Von Mises (pronounced by Sylvester as von meeses) Institute.
Unfortunately the author misses the point that it was the neo-cons who promoted the Reinvention of Government the liberaltarian ideal of getting the State out of business and business to take up the slack of the state, in other words his arguement is upside down. In fact it is the folks at Von Mises and others like the CATO and Fraser Institutes that promote the so called free market ideology that promote P3's.
His critique of sustainable development suffers from a similar misunderstanding of the political economy of the neo-liberal state. The State has been run by the neo-cons for more than twenty years and sustainable development is their way of creating a Greener capitalism without actually investing in industrial ecology or social ecology.
Once again the Liberaltarians fail to understand the simple fact that the State is a manifestation of Capitalism. In their efforts to create a mythology of a pure and simple capitalism, they view the State as somehow apart and separate from its birthmother, modern capitalism. It is not the State that hinders capitalism, on the contrary it is the State which abets and promotes capitalism. Their argument is based upon a percieved American exceptionalism and thus remains a-historical and a flight of fantasy.
While their key argument that big business and its state hinder markets, competition, free association remain cogent, it not a question of either or but rather the elimination of both. See: Libertarian Dialectics
Public-Private Partnerships, The Undermining of Free Enterprise, and the Emergence of “Soft Fascism”There are now thousands of public-private partnerships in place throughout the country, engaging in activities ranging from building roads and neighborhoods to providing waterand wastewater services to renovating government schools to overseeing the management
of real estate to providing health care. This number seems destined to grow in theimmediate future.
It is fair to say that public-private partnerships have been accepted
without question by the ‘mainstream’ of both government and business. This is because a new ‘paradigm’ for the relationship between the two has emerged, verygradually, over the past few decades. This ‘paradigm,’ of course, is that of sustainable development, which combines the power of the purse, one might call it, with the power of
the sword. The resources of business (the power of the purse) are utilized to do the work of “governance” (the power of the sword)—with the former’s full cooperation and support.
The reports we cited noted several examples of what appear to all intents and purposes to be successful public-private partnerships—successful, that is, in achieving the ends wanted within government.
Expansionist or interventionist government—the idea that government should undertake responsibility for managing huge portions of a country’s economy and infrastructure—is taken for granted, but limits on the capacity of government to effect change by itself are acknowledged. The solution to the problem of the limits on the capacity of government, in the new paradigm, is to employ the resources of business, in a way that brings business fully on board and enlists it as collaborator—or partner.
Of course, the larger the business the better, because bigger businesses tend to have deeper pocketbooks than smaller businesses. The critics of public-private partnerships usually cited in the favorable literature are not those who do not trust government but those who do not trust business.
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