Can the government save money by privatizing prisons, Medicare and other functions?

How should we evaluate proposals to privatize government functions?

First, we shouldn’t assume that lower costs means more efficiency. It will be easy to develop a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that is cheaper. Just provide fewer benefits or make the insured pay more out of pocket or in premiums. That is not more efficient, but just a less comprehensive program. The government would save money, but patients get less while paying more.

Second, not everything can be reduced to a price. We often hear that cuts in military spending might result in less security. We should realize that cheaper prisons can be more dangerous. Less spending on education could yield less educated students.

Finally, we need to recognize that people who have spent their careers working in the private sector, where the single measure of success is the rate of profit, might not be capable of running an organization that measures success in terms of human well-being, public health or the beauty and sustainability of our enviro