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Privatizing government jobs robs electorate of power

Last week, hundreds of state case workers, their union leaders and others attended a hearing to speak out against Gov. Mitch Daniels’ proposed plan to privatize the welfare process.
His plan includes a $1.61 billion payoff to IBM Corp. over 10 years to help upgrade programs for food stamps, Medicaid and welfare. Basically, IBM would be in charge of processing applications, but the state would retain control of eligibility decisions.
Under Daniel’s plan, IBM would create 1,000 jobs in Indiana over the next four years and provide more than $8 million in new computer equipment and services.
The IBM contract would be one of the most expensive in state history.
Daniels and officials with the Family and Social Service Administration have claimed that outsourcing is needed to reduce errors in processing applications for food stamps, Medicaid and welfare. However, the state has collected millions in rewards from the federal government for the low error rates achieved by state workers. Daniels has even said the contract does not need the approval of the legislature.
I see many things wrong with this picture, but two stand out the most.
First, I think privatizing the state’s social services is an oxymoron. Welfare, food stamps and Medicaid are programs that are supposed to be provided by the state with state funds. If Daniels turns over a portion of that process to IBM, it will cease to be fully state funded and thus no longer truly a state program.
Essentially, the state will give IBM more than $1 billion, and IBM will fund the application process for these programs. Let me repeat that: IBM will pay for the state’s social services application process with money the state has given them.
Basically, the state’s welfare programs are an appropriation of taxpayer money, or an income redistribution from the wealthy to the impoverished. So not only is Daniels taking my tax dollars and giving them to a large corporation, but he is also taking away a little bit of power from each Indiana citizen.
Despite most people’s opinion, we (Indiana citizens) are in control of the state. We simply appoint people to run the day-to-day affairs for us. The United States is a democracy which loosely defined means political power is held by the people, but Daniels attempts to privatize areas of government that shifts the control away from us and into the hands of a large corporation. We lose the ability to make decisions that may affect our everyday lives.
This is why I am strongly against privatization of government. Government is put in power to work for us with our tax money. If politicians begin privatizing areas of government and bringing in outside sources to do their jobs, then what am I paying them to do?
If other corporations are doing their jobs and making decisions that affect me, then does my vote in elections still count? I can’t vote on IBM officials, and I can’t vote on the officials at Macquarie Holdings in Australia or Spain-based Cintra, the two companies who purchased Indiana’s toll road in the north. However, I can vote to elect leaders and hope the decisions they make will not affect me adversely. Clearly, I have not voted correctly.
The second problem I see with this situation is the clear lack of government functioning properly. What happened to the system of checks and balances? Daniels has said he does not need legislative approval to sign this contract with IBM. What is the point of the Indiana House and Senate if one man can make a decision for everyone?
I understand Daniels’ idea. He believes it will save Indiana money and create jobs. However, he is so blinded by money that he doesn’t see there is much more at stake when outsourcing jobs that are supposed to be government tasks. He is not only taking away a piece of our power, he is also placing a piece of the lives of Indiana citizens into the hands of large corporations.
Those officials, I’m betting on, don’t care about any of us. Why would they? It’s not like we can vote them out in the next election if we don’t like their actions. They simply are coming to Indiana for the billion dollars, for the profit margin, not because they care.
Shame on you, Mitch Daniels. You clearly no longer want to work for Indiana; maybe IBM has a place for you.

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