Privatize! Midasize! Hypnotize!
Miller, Arthur. "Let's Privatize Congress." New York
Times, A19, January 10, 1995. Note on inset large font text:
"The legal way to buy senators."
It is great news, this idea of selling a House office building
now that the Republicans are dissolving so many committees and
firing their staffs. But I wouldn't be surprised if this is only
the opening wedge for a campaign to privatize Congress. Yes, let
the free market openly raise its magnificent head in the most
sacred precincts of the Welfare State. The compelling reasons for
privatizing Congress are perfectly evident. Everybody hates it,
only slightly less than they hate the President. Everybody, that
is, who talks on the radio, plus millions of the silent who only
listen and hate in private.
Congress has brought on this hatred, mainly by hypocrisy. For
example, members are covered by complete Government-run health
insurance - while the same kind of coverage for the voters was
defeated, with the voters' consent and support, no less.
The voters, relieved that they are no longer manaced by
inexpensive health insurance administered by the hated Government,
must nevertheless be confused about not getting what polls show
they wanted. The important point is that even though they are happy
at being denied what they say they want, they also know that the
campaign to defeat health insurance was financed by the big private
health insurance companies to the tune of millions of dollars paid
to Congressional campaigns. The net result is that with all their
happiness, the voters are also aware of a lingering sense of
Health care is only one of many similar issues - auto safety,
the environment, education, the use of public lands, etc. The way
each issue is decided affects the finances of one or another
business, industry or profession, and these groups naturally tend
to butter the bread of members of Congress. We can do away with
this hypocrisy by making Congress a private enterprise. Let each
representative and senator openly represent, and have his salary
paid by, whatever business group wishes to buy his vote. Then, with
no excuses, we will really have the best representative system
money can buy. No longer will absurdly expensive election campaigns
be necessary. Anyone wanting the job of Congressional
representative of, say, the drug industry could make an appointment
with the council of that industry and make his pitch.
The question arises whether we would need bother to go through
the whole election procedure. But I think we must continue to ask
the public to participate lest people become even more alientated
than they are now, with only 39 percent of the eligible voters
going to the polls in November. A prvatized Congress might well
attract a much higher percentage of voters than the present
outmoded one does because the pall of hypocrisy would have been
stripped away and a novel bracing honesty would attract voters to
choose whichever representative of the auto or real estate
industries or the date growers they feel most sympathy for.
Once Congress is privatized, the time would have come to do the
same to the Supreme Court and the Justice Department. If each
Justice were openly hired by a sector of the economy to protect its
interests, a simple bargaining process could settle everything. The
Auto Industry Justice, wishing to throw out a suit against General
Motors or Ford, could agree to vote his support for the
Agribusiness Justice, who wanted to quash a suit by workers
claiming to have been poisoned while picking cabbages.
Some will object that such a system of what might be called
legalized corruption would leave out the public and its interests.
But this is no longer a problem when you realize that there is no
public and therefore no public interest in the old sense. As
Margaret Thatcher once said, "There is no society," meaning that
the public consists of individuals, all of whom have private
interests that to some degree are hostile to the interests of other
Possible objections: the abstract idea of justice would
disappear under a system that takes only private economic interests
into account. Secondly, the corporate state, which this resembles,
was Mussolini's concept and resulted in the looting of the public
by private interests empowered by the state.
Objections to the objections: we already have a corporate state.
All privatization would do would be to recognize it as a fact.
Conclusion: we are in bad trouble.