Recently, a champion of capitalism named Alexander Markovsky penned an absurd little column for the website of The Hill, a publication dedicated to covering Capitol Hill and read by hundreds of Congresspeople and their staffs. The column was an argument for the privatization of America’s infrastructure:
According to Markovsky, this privatization is the natural evolution of “our economic system” and is inevitable. Therefore, we the people should push it along. One assumes that if we the people are not willing to do so, then Markovsky and the firm he works for, Litwin Management, would be more than happy to undertake that task nonetheless. In this column, Markovsky argues for the privatization of public assets like roads, water systems and other essential elements of the national infrastructure. His argument naturally assumes we the people believe profiteers like his company would have only the people’s interests in mind.
Like other free market preachers, Markovsky ignores the fact it is the stockholders who decide how any private infrastructure would be maintained or even undertaken. In his simplistic view of the ultimate goodness of the profit motive, Markovsky continues to argue his case, even calling the current US system “socialist” if not outright “communist.”
Now, if a man whose interests are obviously about making himself richer than the Disney character Scrooge McDuck wants to write half-assed arguments to convince his investors to put their money where his mouth is, that’s one thing. However, the fact his self-serving drivel is being published in a journal directed at the men and women deciding where public funds and assets are going to be placed, that is a problem. This is especially true in the case of the current Congress; a human swamp noted for its profiteering and contempt for the people who voted them in.
Markovsky’s biography is a bit atypical for a modern day follower of the church of capitalism. Born in the Soviet Union, he moved to the United States in 1976. The current owner of Litwin Management LLC, his economic views are a combination of, among others, Greenspan, Hayek and Pinochet. More importantly, he is a member of a think tank called the London Center for Policy Research, based in New York City. The think tank appears to be one of those places where the Trumpists and the right wing of the neoconservative movement combine their intellectual forces such as they are.
If one goes to the think tank’s website, they will find a few articles by Markovsky and other members of the organization’s board. Among them are articles decrying universal health care, calling for a Euro-Army to defend the failing neoliberal enterprise on that continent and hailing Trump as a savior of sorts. The board itself includes the former CIA director James Woolsey, the editor of the rightwing journal The American Spectator R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr., and Likud supporter, founder of the (let’s face it we are really a)white nationalist foundation Save the West and Trump supporter Kenneth S. Abramowitz. The institute’s late chairman was one time Conservative Party candidate for New York governor and Hudson Institute member Herbert London. Just in case one is uncertain of the London Center’s political leanings, the board includes Iran-Contra felon Robert “Bud” McFarlane as an honorary member.
Markovsky’s writings appear in various conservative and ultra-right journals like The Washington Times and FrontPage, along with The Hill. It is symptomatic of the right wing nature of those in power in the US that his arguments are considered legitimate despite the irrational nature of the premise his logic is based on. To argue the private sector is able to rebuild and maintain the infrastructure of a nation denies the essential fact of what motivates the private sector-an ever greater need for profit. Of course, that motivation does not mean such profit will occur.
This brings us to the other part of the equation. When that ever greater profit disappears, the motivation to continue those projects no longer making profit also disappears. This is true even if one ignores the personal greed that is usually a factor in the souls of the capitalist class. Usually, this scenario of diminishing profits means that the common people are left with the remnants of those unprofitable projects. Markovsky, in all his championing of the private sector, ignores this. Like the cities that have turned over parts of their public transit system to private carriers only to see the system shut down after a bad year or two in the market, Markovsky and his cohorts religious belief in the sanctity of capitalism blame everything but the object of their faith for its repetitive failure.
In short, those like Markovsky who believe that the privatization of public assets will solve both the problem of failing infrastructure and the problem of crumbling capitalism have it backward. Historically, it is the government that bails out capitalists, not the other way around. Arguably, the last time monopoly capitalists had almost completely unfettered power to manipulate the US economy was under Herbert Hoover. The result was the stock market crash of 1929.
My understanding of history tells me the government bailed out private capital, just like it did in 2007-2009 under George Bush and Barack Obama. Indeed, what’s needed is more public use of public funds for public projects, not less. As long as the friends of privatization continue to control the US government, such a scenario is unlikely.