Cronyism Poisons our Government

Note: This letter to the editor ran in the Keene, New Hampshire Sentinel on August 27, 2012.

Crony capitalists gather at the public trough, seeking tax dollars and guaranteed profits for privatizing government. Now they’re going after prison dollars.

There’s little evidence showing that for-profit prisons, education, health insurance or even the for-profit private contractors in our military make us a better country, but they certainly have made some people rich.

Privatization lobbyists spend big money on advocacy and political donations.

In 2008, the health industry spent $166.8 million protecting private insurance profits. For-profit education lobbyists spent about $20 million in the last two years. Defense industries spent about $287 million over two years pushing increases in our bloated military.

The Correction Corporation of America and GEO, two big prison for-profits, spent over $22 million lobbying, out of $3 billion annual revenues from our tax dollars. Here in New Hampshire they’ve lawyered up with major Concord firms.

Prison lobbyists advocate for privatization, stiffer punishments and automatic sentencing. The Pennsylvania “Kids for Cash” racket, where detention centers paid judges to give longer sentences, isn’t much different from paying legislators to increase correction business profits.

Voters are fed up with this corrupt crony capitalism.

Tim Butterworth is an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow.