Privatization is when a business operation uses privately owned funds, compared to a public company that uses investors’ money traded on a stock exchange. Many services and industries are privatized, such as private prisons, education, healthcare and utilities.
Good research paper topics are to write about the pros and cons of privatization.
The privatization debate
The debate rages on whether privatization is beneficial or not. Some say privatization opens up the free market system, is more efficient, and reduces the size of government. Others say that the government should be in charge of certain services, like infrastructure, Social Security, Medicare and education. In other parts of the world, there is little to no privatization, where the government runs industry, banks and healthcare.
The 1980s and 1990s saw a spate of privatization of utilities, education, prisons, transportation and telecommunications. However, today, city and state governments are questioning the benefits of privatization. According to Molly Ball in “The Privatization Backlash,” posted in The Atlantic April 23, 2014, “In states and cities across the country, lawmakers are expressing new skepticism about privatization, imposing new conditions on government contracting, and demanding more oversight. Laws to reign in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year.”
Privatization of American prisons
A timely issue of great concern is the privatization of prisons in America. Some prisons are run by billion-dollar for-profit corporations, rather than the states or federal government. Some people say that putting prisoners in prison should not be a money-making operation, which could lead to corruption and unfair sentencing practices, such as mandatory minimum sentencing that creates more inmates. The Obama administration will phase out use of private, for-profit prisons for federal inmates. The state prison system is encouraged to follow suit.
Deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates wrote a memo to the federal Bureau of Prisons saying that private prisons “compare poorly to our own bureau facilities… do not save substantially on costs,” and they provide fewer rehabilitative services, like educational programs and job training, that are “essential to reducing recidivism and improving public safety,” reported in “U.S. to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons for Federal Inmates,” by Charlie Savage posted in New York Times August 18, 2016. Private prisons are more violent, have more lockdowns and discover more contraband than non-private prisons. Privatization proponents say that private prisons cost less per inmate, and house more violent inmates, which is why there are more reports of violence.
Privatization of water
Another topic for a term paper is to discuss the pros and cons of privatization of water resources. In the developing world, access to clean portable water is of great concern, and there are various points of view and approaches as to how best to solve the problem. Some big organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank believe that privatization of water management and distribution is a viable solution because it will improve efficiency, water will be priced according to market forces, and people will be forced to be less wasteful.
On the other hand, Indian environmental activist and author of Earth Democracy, Vandana Shiva, is against privatization by transnational corporations. She believes in local economic development and democratic control over food and water. “She is highly critical of privatization and commodification of public goods, such as water and basic foods, through international patents because it excludes the poor, creates new enclosures and further deprives the marginalized,” wrote Srini Sitaraman in “Privatization, Efficiency, Gender, Development, and Inequality—Transnational Conflicts over Access to Water and Sanitation,” in Human Rights & Human Welfare, Annual 2008.
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Privatization.
What industries do you think should and should not be privatized? Let us know in the comments.