For various reasons I don’t automatically think that contracting government work is a bad idea. If a reasonably empirical analysis suggests that we would benefit from transferring a job to the lowest bidder then I’m all for it. So that’s not why it concerns me that the GOP has shunted government jobs to a record-breaking swarm of private contractors.
The problem is that Republicans believe in privatizing but they don’t believe in oversight. In the grand feeding trough of Iraq the only oversight figure of any import was Inspector General Stuart Bowen. Most others, whistleblowers and inspectors who lacked Bowen’s personal Bush connections, had a tendency to find other work. It’s hard to understate the how important Bowen’s recent report to Congress would have been for ending the pointless waste of US resources, if the 109th Congress had bothered to listen to him. Instead, surprise, they tried to fire him. While Congress slept one unsupervised company managed to wreck a prison, a network of health clinics and the Baghdad Police Academy.
You find the same phenomenon everywhere you look. Read Steve Benen describe what happened when data showed that Republicans’ cherished voucher programs don’t work. Rather than change a whit, supporters ignored the data and canceled the studies. FEMA outsourced important jobs (cronies, natch) without making sure the contractors were up to the task. The near-pathological need that drives our vice president to classify everything up to and including his staff roster is nothing more than the modern right wing mentality taken to its disturbing extreme. Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay disgraced their party as a result of earlier decisions to stifle departmental Inspectors General and shutter Congressional Ethics Committees. Internal mechanisms failed to discourage or check the criminal instincts of DeLay, Bob Ney, Randy “Duke” Cunningham, David Safavian and a long list of others (including William Jefferson) so the Depart of Justice had to do it instead.
This is the central failure of our modern Republican movement. It’s the basic reason why even preferred policies like rebuilding Iraq, charter schools and the war itself devolve into embarrassing failures. Piss and fecal matter drip from the ceiling of “the most important security project in the country” while contractors, paid in full, sit back and shrug.
Stipulated that legitimate policy issues will keep me from supporting most Republican governments. As a supporter of the environment, social safety nets and universal healthcare, legitimate science, science education and reproductive choice the GOP seems to get everything wrong. It is pretty much a given that I will not vote for a GOP majority. What baffles me, looking over the hash the GOP makes of even its favored policies, is why anybody would.