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You want privatization? I got your privatization right here.
By Carolyn Kay
Privatization is happening all around us, but I had hardly noticed until it jumped up and hit me in the face, twice just this week.
When I started to send in the paperwork this past Monday for an extension on filing my tax return, I thought Iíd get a confirmation number, as I have in the past. Yes, Iím always late filing. I just never seem to get my tax information together on time. There used to be an automated service you could call, enter what you owed and what you were paying, and get a confirmation number. This year, there were only private services to call. You couldnít call the IRS. I didnít contact any of them. I just put the paperwork and a check in the mail. Hopefully, Iíll get a confirmation back, also by mail.
Later in the week I decided to do something for which I need a certified copy of my birth certificate. I thought I didnít have one, so I visited the website of the Louisiana department of vital records, where I learned that to get a birth certificate directly from the agency, I had to show up in person, and show a picture ID. Otherwise, I had to go through a private company. The private company would accept a photocopy of my driverís license faxed to them to expedite my order. My birth certificate would cost a certain amount, which the private company would pay to the government agency, then there would be an additional amount for shipping and handling.
Now I know that the real shipping costs arenít anywhere close to the quoted amounts, so Iím forced to conclude that most of the charge is to pay the private company for its costs associated with the transaction plus a profit. So unless I can show up in person at a state office that can issue a copy of my birth certificate, I have to pay the state for its costs and then a private company for its costs and its profit.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
Then, I happened to notice that the company website linked to from the Louisiana vital records website is ďa ChoicePoint companyĒ. You know, the company owned by big Republican donors, that was paid millions of dollars to help Florida remove tens of thousands of African Americans from its voter rolls prior to the 2000 election. Why African Americans? Because theyíre likely Democratic voters. It was the digital version of Jim Crow.
So these are the questions that come immediately to mind:
If a private company can accept my driverís license faxed to them as proof of identification and send me a birth certificate, why canít a government agency do that?
Why do I have to pay twice for my birth certificateóonce to a government agency and again to a private company?
Why do I have to pay a company that will use the money I send them to keep Republicans in power, when Iím a Democrat?
And the last question is, why is it again that privatization is supposed to be GOOD for me?