For decades, Republican politicians have come up with many theoretical reasons that privately-run programs should be more efficient than government-run programs. However, empirical research into the matter has failed to consistently find an economic or operational benefit of privatization. Privatization of military operations, for instance, has led to infamous fraud, waste, delays and other abuses. Privatization of other government services has interfered with the oversight and transparency.
Still, Republicans keep pushing privatization programs. For example, in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, Congressman John Duncan and thirteen GOP colleagues introduced H.R. 1072, legislation that requires the privatization of government services in many agencies, without the context of study into whether such privatization would actually do any good.
Why do they do it? The rationale behind privatization lies in the ideology of economics, rather than in economics itself. The Republicans who sit in Congress today came of age during the Cold War, during which beliefs in the value of private business operations were amplified in order to provide a sense of contrast in American national identity, when compared to the identity of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, assertions of the value of government programs came to be regarded by many Americans as practically treasonous.
The Cold War ended long ago, but an irrational, ideological fear of government remains. Preppers build bunkers from which they can defend themselves against jack-booted thugs from the FBI. Conspiracy theorists claim that the government is forcefully putting microchips under the skin of every American right now, although nobody has noticed any such thing actually happening to anyone.
For many Republicans, the threat of a Communist takeover of the United States remains a clear and present danger. They perceive Communist plots as the secret force behind health care reform, the minimum wage, emergency relief programs, and efforts to combat global warming. Any effort to provide useful services through the government to people living within the borders of the United States is attacked, and so, domestic issues challenges remain unmet, out of the anxiety that, somewhere, out there, THEY are preparing to take their revenge, and put every American into a commune for re-education.