Bermuda’s postal services could be privatized to bring it back into the black, the Postmaster General Wayne Smith has revealed. 

He told the Bermuda Sun: “We are considering it. You can say very few post offices worldwide have been successfully privatized — in many cases, the government has had to step back in and take them over. Notwithstanding, privatization is something that’s being considered.”

It seems my mate is finally letting the cat out of the bag as to what the OBA /SAGE may be planning to do. Glad to see him speak beyond the confines of a pen name. Perhaps now we will see true transparency from the OBA.

Margaret Thatcher, the mother of privatization, should have heeded that warning from her Cabinet minister, William Waldegrave, who told his fellow Conservatives to never “make the mistake of falling in love with free enterprise”.

Instead of becoming specialists in providing services to the public, private companies have become masters of how to win government contracts and this is often with low wages, poor working conditions and no government control or oversight.

The OBA will most likely attempt to sing the praises of privatization of government jobs and services.

Let’s examine some of the myths versus realities of privatization.

Myth #1:  Privatization saves money.

The Harsh Reality: Privatization often increases the costs for both government and the public 

Recently the UK government had the private sector finance the building and running of schools, hospitals and prisons. It is now estimated to cost up to £25bn more than if the government had paid for them directly.  

When New York City subcontracted its Parking Violation Bureau to Datacom Systems Corp., rampant corruption was uncovered. The city took the contract back and the cost of the service was 20 per cent lower. 

Myth #2:  Private companies do a better job than the public sector.

The Harsh Reality: Over 60 per cent of governments that took back previously privatized functions did so because of the poor quality of the service.   

For example, A4E, an employment agency and a holder of a welfare-to-work contract with the UK government, managed to find work for only 3.5 per cent of its clients. That did not stop the chairman, Emma Harrison, paying herself an £8.6million dividend in 2011. 

Recently, Indiana cancelled a 10-year contract it had with United Water because it was proven that the company violated industry standards, filed inadequate reports, and failed to meet deadlines. Indiana estimates that costs will decrease from $16m to $8m per year.   

Shocked, baffled, confused? Thought privatization was “All that and a bag of chips?” 

There are more examples which I will show in my next column on privatization. Like Margaret Thatcher and her right wing cronies, there are some Bermuda based business owners eagerly anticipating the liquidation of unionized jobs.

To my unionized Brothers and Sisters i say this — do not lay down and allow anyone to hoodwink that “this is best for Bermuda” or “taking one for the team”. This is all about naked capitalism, plain and simple. Stand united, Stand in Solidarity. n

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