Privatization is a central component of the neo-liberal economic policies currently governing much of our domestic and international economic policy. Privatization occurs when a government-owned business is sold to a private company or when a private firm begins offering services formerly provided by government.
In the United States, many services such as sanitation; bus driving; the provision of social services, including education; some utilities; and many functions in the military have been privatized. Around the world, education, health care, water and other utilities, steel mills, and oil refineries have all been privatized.
Often when a service is privatized it becomes more expensive. For example, a private firm may charge a fee for what had been provided free of charge (for example, education) or prices may rise for goods (like water) that had been available at a reduced (subsidized) price. Advocates of privatization argue that private firms operate more efficiently than government. But often any savings due to privatization are the result of paying workers lower wages and not the result of efficiency gains.
While mismanagement or corruption may occur when a government runs a company, the same holds true for the private sector, especially in a country with poorly developed legal and judicial safeguards. Too often privatization has resulted in the sale of public assets at below-market prices, allowing private firms to reap large profits. Moreover, government-run agencies can be held publicly accountable in ways that private firms often cannot.
UCC General Synod Resolutions and Pronouncements
A Faithful Response: calling for a more just, humane direction for economic globalization (General Synod 24, 2003) calls for the rules and institutions that shape economic globalization to be fundamentally changed.
Saving Social Security from privatization (General Synod 25, 2005)