If you look for some of the best performing stocks in the past 10-15 years that are not tech related, you might be surprised that a few of them are all about the privatization of prisons. What is even more amazing is the companies tell the federal, state or local law enforcement that they need a guaranteed 90% occupation rate before the build one.
The prison builders will argue that they are not in business of law enforcement and are providing a service needed by society, in a society that has the highest per capita population in prison at over two percent. They didn’t cause the problem, they are just providing a solution because of the inefficiency of how governments plan and spend money.
I think of how we used to promote shows, we had a guaranteed minimum. That fee covered all costs, so there was no risk at going into a new country or city. The same “no risk” proposition applies to the companies building and running the facilities. I shudder to think of each live tour we did that required a 90% guaranteed ticket sale. It would be like creating your own money printing facility
In the past few years, I really am saddened to see that more governments have given over science research to private facilities. I do understand the costs associated with bleeding edge work and the high rate of probable failure at that level, but the foundation for the space, robotic, nano-technology has all come from taxpayer funded work. Now a few private organizations that have some pretty hefty cash reserves and some young ambitious minds are setting out to find answers to some of our more interesting questions. Like “how does the mind work?” Or “lets map and the human genome and wipe out disease.”
These are all great things, but I keep coming back to the problem with privatization. These are businesses designed to make money. When push comes to shove, the moniker of for example a company like Google with, “do no evil” is a great ideal – but what happens at a time in the future when the net impact is diluted by competition or a new idea they don’t own. The stockholders will demand profit, and I don’t think too many really care where it comes from. Such is the life of the leisure society where you can sit around and make money not really doing much of anything. There are always plenty of people willing to do the work to gain a bit more for them.
The bigger problem, has nothing to do with shareholder return, but rather, how well does man understand himself and the power he has to do good, or more often than not, do good for himself and not others. Pride, greed, ego, and power are elements of the human psyche that can work to change anyone, usually without the person even realizing it until what was a noble idea probably has more to do with some twisted idea of playing god on earth.
I really wonder if Orwell wasn’t dead on when he wrote in 1984 that multinationals would be the super powers of the future.
All one has to do is look at the landscape post cold war. There was oddly, something good with two superpowers each containing the capability to mutually assure each others destruction of the globe 20-30 times over. There was a faux sensibility or peace that was put in place on the planet. Who knew nuclear submarines that could stay underwater for ages, loaded with horrifically powerful weapons would provide such a powerful deterrent for the other side doing something stupid.
Today, the world has shifted to a world where the lunacy of future warfare will be carried out with “official” governments using “humane" ways to righteously obliterate ones foe’s.
Forgive me as i take a moment and sip my coffee and chuckle at the how what i just types sounds like lunacy to me, yet another would say "humane obliteration" is a noble thing.
More and more, private military enterprises that made a giant resurgence in the past 20 years after a hiatus from the stigma of hired mercenaries. Now, “shadow” contractors with several company name changes in a few years provide a great deal of the “naughty, unsavory, or dirty” elements of warfare that governments don’t want to be associated with.
Once again, how can you really blame soldiers trained by taxpayers with the latest high tech weapons making 100k in five years, not to jump ship to the private world where he can make the same amount in 6 months?
It’s a dirty little world, yet, we like to polish it up and put a new shiny coat of paint upon it with the message and image we put upon the issues. Behind the scenes not much has changed over the years. Some people love power; others have the money to put them in power. The same people have agenda’s or desires to do things their way – and they do and can. The rest, well, we tend to actually pay for it all one way or the other.
I saw the news yesterday where the president of the unites states is talking about corporate tax inversion, saying, “It is unpatriotic and wrong.” Has he asked, “Why did my last election cost a few billion dollars for me to get this job?”
My memory escapes me, who the gentleman was that said, “If they want this problem to stop, all they have to do is publish the names of the people and companies all doing this. The average man would be surprised if not shocked at how many of his leaders are on the list.”
Then he gave me a slight smile, “then things would change.”
As for why this ramble, I was laying in bed after a wonderful family day here is Switzerland. Basically, I did American chicken wings for my wife’s delayed birthday party. I think everyone enjoyed them, yet, for most of the day, I confess, I was clueless trying to understand that Swiss German and Portuguese. I even had a Caipirinha - it didn't help me understand any better.
But what it all did, aside from allowing me to work on various Colorado designs (I will write about that odd story tomorrow) was sketch out what might be a book, or a movie idea for life in our futures
A Cool idea, yet, if man doesn’t get wiser quickly, the reality is there will be plenty of scary monsters as well. They will simply have developed better ways to hide in the shadows of the light we all live within.