Public sector jobs have been eroded by anti-worker lawmakers and their policy of privatizing as many services as possible. We need to renew the idea of a “trickle up” economy.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal,
which put money into public-sector jobs. This created a “trickle up”
economy, by creating jobs that put money into people’s pockets.
Businesses expanded because they had customers. Public sector jobs were
created because the private sector would not provide the non-profitable
service. These services were provided to the public without the demand
for profits going back to the elite few.
Fast forward to the
1980s–President Ronald Reagan branded the public sector as the “problem,
not the solution” and said that we needed a “trickle down” economy.
Since then, businesses have enjoyed repeated tax cuts and a reversal of
regulations on businesses to maximize their profits ever since. Wealth
was seen as more valuable than working for wages.
sector jobs are the most visible way that the government provides
services. They are also loathed by the private sector.
An Example: LA County
several decades, we have seen the privatization of LA County Department
of Health Services jobs. The County has contracted out many services
over the years, including security, housekeeping, cafeteria services,
registry and traveler services for all levels of nursing, respiratory
therapy and pharmacy techs–the list goes on and on.
King Hospital is probably the largest example of privatization in DHS.
The County is hiring a non-profit company to manage and run MLK
Hospital. While the County pays for building and supplying the medical
equipment, it also promises to pay for care of the uninsured and the
under-insured. This is a win-win for the private sector. And it is
unlike County facilities, which have to spread their funding across very
complicated non-profitable patients.
We can’t let our guard
down. Remember, we fought off the privatization of our public libraries.
We haven’t lost yet. We can keep the public sector strong and even roll
back some of the privatization we’ve seen.
First, we need to know answers to basic things:
Should the safety net services be privatized? Is there a place for public sector services?
Since we are a public sector provider:
Do we compete to be a “provider of choice?”
Or do we remain a safety net for the people without insurance–citizens
and non-citizens–and the patients that the private sector rejects as
too complicated, expensive and non-compliant?
Either choice would
require the LA County Board of Supervisors to invest in the DHS
infrastructure and continued funding for the patients that the private
sector will return to us.
‘For the People’
Public sector workers
have been doing our best with the limited resources we are given to
provide services to LA County residents. We step forward to provide the
public with services that the private sector won’t. Private corporations
won’t do anything unless they think they can turn a major profit.
can take pride in the public sector services we provide. We have
stepped up to do the work that is needed for our communities. I believe
there is a need for the public sector since there will still be patients
who aren’t considered profitable to corporations. These patients
deserve high quality care too, so the public sector needs to maintain
We need to bring back FDR’s “trickle up” economics
and the value of work. This will bring back the “American Dream”–the
opportunity for people in this country to achieve a middle-class
lifestyle. Everyone deserves access to quality, public education,
healthcare, food security and housing.
We need a government that works for all people, and not just for big business interests and the wealthy.
-Virginia “Ginny” Anders-Ellmore
LA County Nurse Practitioner