Privatization hangover: State audit of health and human service agencies shows continuing management problems | Editorial | – Houston Chronicle

The drive to hire private contractors to take over duties performed by state employees in agencies under the oversight of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission — mandated by the Legislature five years ago — has been a slow-motion disaster. The commission was forced to terminate a major contract with Accenture last year after the attempt to privatize eligibility screening for social service programs caused chaos and erroneously denied services to thousands of qualified Texans.

In early 2006 the state auditor issued a report critical of another commission contractor, Convergys, which was selected in 2004 for a five-year, $85 million pact to provide human resources and payroll services for the 46,000 employees in the agencies the commission supervises. Auditors warned that supervision of the contract was lax, resulting in late and incorrect paychecks to workers and inadequate training and spending on technology.

Privatization hangover: State audit of health and human service agencies shows continuing management problems | Editorial | – Houston Chronicle.

I can’t even find the energy to say I told you so…

4 thoughts on “Privatization hangover: State audit of health and human service agencies shows continuing management problems | Editorial | – Houston Chronicle”

  1. I think you’re grossly misrepresenting the facts Gary. Socialism and government regulation are the largest mistruths of modern history. “Equality was achieved only in the sense that everyone was equal in his or her misery.” – Mark Perry, Economist

    If we are to avoid the crises involving government intervention such as poverty and corruption, then we are obligated to not vote for Obama and his Marxist platform. Once in a while you’ll see the advocates of socialism, who are one and the same as the critics of privatization, rear their heads during election times and when a free, capitalist system goes through the bottom of its business cycle.

    Whenever a private market “fails”, socialists are quick to point out that this is proof that the whole capitalist system has failed. The truth is the number of people alive and prospering today is testament to free markets efficiently delivering goods, services, and solutions to life’s needs. One has only to look at the standards of living of socialist countries compared to capitalist countries to see the differences.

    “Rank countries along a continuum according to whether they are closer to being free-market economies or whether they’re closer to socialist or planned economies. Then, rank countries by per-capita income. We will find a general, not perfect, pattern whereby those countries having a larger free-market sector produce a higher standard of living for their citizens than those at the socialist end of the continuum. ” – Economist Walter Williams

    “What is more important is that if we ranked countries according to how Freedom House or Amnesty International rates their human-rights guarantees, we’d see that citizens of countries with market economies are not only richer, but they tend to enjoy a greater measure of human-rights protections.” – Economist Walter Williams

    In fact, when private markets fail, it is usually the case that markets weren’t fully free of government regulation. – Gary Becker, Nobel Laureate Economist

    In the past 150 years, we’ve had 31 business cycles, and the duration and magnitude of those expansions far exceed those in contraction. The point is that our economy experiences volatility, but that we have always not only recovered from contractions but also increased our standard of living.

  2. You know Jim, I keep telling myself I’m not going to let you keep calling me names…Yet I keep letting you vent on my pages. I wonder where I developed my love of free speech and allowing dissenting views to be heard. It sure wasn’t by following the example of the current administration, was it?

    For the record Jim, I didn’t misrepresent any facts. I quoted an article in the Houston Chronicle that reported the facts out of a government mandated report in the State of Texas. The last time I looked the Texas was pretty much run and operated by the guys you keep wanting to control the US government. The fact that the corporations who were awarded the contracts mentioned in the article were incompetent doesn’t appear to be in question. The fact that the privatization of government services isn’t working out as well as the Legislature thought it would surprises no one but the Legislature. Remember this is the state that brought the world Enron and let them talk us into deregulating our electric supply…You just have to look at the bills around the state to see how that worked out.

    So now you equate all government regulation with socialism and Marxism. You blame the excesses of the corporate system on business cycles. You quote rightwing economists as if they where truths handed down from on high. From the comments you have made on this blog, you seem to feel that any government regulation can only be onerous…

    Well pardon me that I disagree. Lack of government regulation (and enforcement) has always led to excesses by the few that control the capital. I do not see many examples of that mythic corporate “citizen”, working toward the public good. And with the changes in morals that have happened in the last half century, the excesses of corporate greed have grown exponentially.

    The only truly “free market” societies have been based on privateers and exploitation of people and resources. Good for those at the top, but hell on earth for those that weren’t.

    I, personally, have absolutely no interest in living in a society where I have to depend on the morality of a legal fiction, the corporate person, for a fair and balanced playing field in which to run my own affairs. I’ll take government regulation and watchdog bureaucrats any day over the accountants and the CEOs.

    While I understand that the driving force of corporatism is profits and maintaining the ability to continue to make those profits, I don’t think that gives them carte blanche to do anything to make those profits.

    Since we have a culture that demands the right of the accused to have a fair trial, and since corporations always have teams of lawyers, trying to get redress in the courts has become impossible for the average citizen. This is where regulation and legislation come into the picture. Those government watchdogs the right finds onerous work for me and every other citizen in this country. They are there to protect me from the accountants and the managers cutting corners to make that extra dime of profit. They are there to protect me and you from that substandard steel that a supplier wanted to sell the contractor for that bridge or building. They are there to protect my grandkids from the hazards of breathing the air I was forced to breath in the 1950’s living just two miles from the Houston Ship Channel.

    So Jim, complain all you want, call me a socialist, call me a Marxist…But you better call me a student of history. And know this, I will fight to see that you have the right to disagree with me on my own blog, but for that, I demand the same respect from you. And if you find the government regulations onerous and too much trouble…You can always go somewhere without these protections and see just how much you like living in anarchy…You might try Russia or China…I understand there regulations are pretty lax.

  3. I respect your opinions in that they were formed with a thoughtful approach Gary. And I guess you didn’t like the term socialist even though you support wealth redistribution and socialized medicine, etc. How else can I describe this policy? It wasn’t meant to belittle rather to sum up beliefs.

    I notice you cite Enron a lot as if that represents our corporate system, you know the one that produced $13.8 Trillion dollars last year and is by far the largest in the world. I’m sorry, but Enron just isn’t anywhere near representative.

    I agree 100% that corporations should not have complete unfettered power. I refer to Sorbannes-Oxley as a rule that I support. I also support making businesses responsible for any adverse externalities they produce such as pollution to a reasonable degree. Having said that I find it incomprehensible to say that the “evil” corporations are to blame for our problems, and that this system has NOT served us well.

    BTW, I do not trust either Russia or China on anything. I support our way of life where we score high marks on human rights and economy. I think that laws that support private ownership are mainly responsible for our success, and I’m skeptical anytime someone argues for state ownership. Call me crazy.

    It’s funny how we sometimes want the same thing but our views on how to get there are so divergent. I guess that’s democracy.

  4. Jim, Why is it the right has a problem with anything that they see as redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom of the social structure but when you turn it around and have wealth being redistributed upwards it’s just free markets?

    Usury by any other name is still usury. But, go into any lower income neighborhood and you find payday loan companies and car dealerships that take “lawful” advantage of those with no other option.

    When you speak of socialized medicine, exactly what are you speaking of? My complaint with the American system is only that it doesn’t work and never will, not for all of the citizens in the country. Sadly, it seems to be working less and less as the years go by. If you have an idea on how to fix it, please, let the rest of us know. Just don’t hide from the fact that right now America as a country pays more for less than any other country in the industrialized world. And since insurance by it’s very nature is socialized redistribution of risk don’t get too quick at bandying around the word.

    I suppose you are in favor of the socialized way we protect the oil companies with their tax breaks and subsidies. I have always wondered how America lets private companies suck up our public resources and don’t even collect the royalties they would pay private owners.

    Yes I do mention Enron a lot. I live in a community and a state that bends over backwards to be “business friendly”, a community that considered the executives at Enron, who caused so much grief for so many of it’s citizens, to be models of behavior. I had friends and family who watched their long years of hard work and their hopes of the American dream dashed as Enron went down.

    Yes I know not all corporations are Enrons. Buit I also know that without enforced oversight, it is to easy for the Ken Lay’s of the world to run amok.

    “I also support making businesses responsible for any adverse externalities they produce such as pollution to a reasonable degree.” I guess I have to ask…Who exactly decides what is reasonable? The company doing the polluting, the trade organization the company joined (or set up) to avoid liability or muddy the water with “friendly science”. or the people through their representatives? Knowing that all there of those options are being funded by the companies leaves me ever so slightly concerned…

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