Reproduzo da newsletter do The Independent Institute, um dos melhores Think Tanks que conheço.
Security Contractor’s Mistakes Reflect Government-Created Incentives, Not “Market Failure”
Earlier this month, the shooting deaths of 17 innocent Iraqi civilians brought unwanted publicity to Blackwater USA, a private firm under contract with the U.S. military to provide diplomatic security and similar services in Iraq and other hotspots. Some people may be tempted to view the Blackwater deaths as an example of the pitfalls of privatization, but in his characteristically nuanced column for the New York Times, George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen explains why this is gross oversimplification is highly misleading.
“The overall problem is not private contracting itself; contractors do not set the tone but rather reflect the sins and virtues of their customers, namely their sponsoring governments,” writes Cowen, co-editor of the Independent Institute book Market Failure or Success. “A private contractor doesn’t have a financial incentive to protect Iraqi citizens, who are not paying customers. Ultimately, this reflects the priorities of the United States military itself.”
Cowen notes some of the trade-offs that the use of private contractors entails. He also notes some of their unrealized potential. For example, had the UN chosen to hire private contractors in central Africa in the mid-1990s, as it had contemplated, instead of employing poorly trained police from Zaire, it’s conceivable that many of the 800,000 lives lost during Rwanda’s bloody civil war would have been spared.
Cowen also notes that his colleague (and Independent Institute Research Director) Alexander Tabarrok discusses the history of private contractors—namely, the privateers of the 19th century—in the spring 2007 issue of The Independent Review. Although Cowen doesn’t say so, Tabarrok’s article makes essentially the same point as his own. To paraphrase: the “contracting out” of security services should not be conflated with the full privatization of security, because the chain of “contracting out” is only as strong as its weakest link—in this case, Uncle Sam.
“To Know Contractors, Know the Government,” by Tyler Cowen (The New York Times, 10/28/07)
Market Failure or Success: The New Debate, edited by Tyler Cowen and Eric Crampton
“The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Privateers,” by Alexander Tabarrok (The Independent Review, Spring 2007)
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