Vanderbilt Law Review


Paul H. Morris

First Page



Privatization" is the process of delegating control of a govern- mental function to the private sector. Although privatization is a relatively new words the concept of privatization can be traced back to the very founding of this continent. Christopher Columbus was a private contractor for the Spanish monarch when he accidentally ran into America while trying to find a quicker route to China. Since Columbus' blooper and the subsequent formation of the United States, privatization has been a part of this country's political culture. Over the last twenty years privatization has experienced an unprecedented level of global support and has become a central part of a strong American anti-government political movement. This political climate has prompted different levels of government to contract with private companies for the performance of services as varied as prison opera- tion, fire protection, and electricity production and distribution. Proponents of privatization claim that the private sector can perform governmental functions better and with less expense. Proponents argue that government-provided service is inherently inefficient because the government lacks profit motive and competition. Critics of privatization, on the other hand, argue that any value created by privatization comes at the expense of the general public good, and that privatization only benefits greedy corporations. Critics complain that the private sector uses its delegated governmental power to sacrifice equality of service, privacy, and individual liberty for profit.

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