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The Cost of Selling Out

The Cost of Selling Out

This past week, a few stories started me thinking about the issue of selling out.

1) On NPR Kathleen Schalch reported on local and state governments privatizing roads to raise cash.

“Chicago has leased its Skyway to an Australian-Spanish firm for nearly $2 billion. And Indiana has leased its entire toll-road system to the same company for nearly $4 billion.”

The questions raised by the wholesale privitization of entities built with public funds, for the public trust are numerous. Should the state or local government decide to raise tolls, the officials who make such decisions must answer for their actions. In short, they are accountable to the public. If the private company decides to do increase fees, where do disgruntled citizens turn? What if the company goes bankrupt? Irrespective of whether one believes a private company can more effficiently manage and maintain roads, the motivation for privatizing them are grounded in the company’s belief it can make a buck. A government’s interest in roads, utilities and other services remains bound to an obligation to its citizens. The underlying motivation of a private company is to generate profit.

2) When Bryant Gumbel suggested on his HBO program Real Sports that out-going National Football League (NFL) commissioner Paul Tagliabue show his successor “where he keeps [NFL Players’ Union President] Gene Upshaw’s leash,” he upset NFL execs as well as the Players’ Association.

Gumbel has been hired by theNFL Network to broadcast 8 games this coming season.

Seems the NFL, which owns the NFL Network, doesn’t take kindly to criticism and dissent within it’s ranks–in other words Gumbal’s bon mot might cost him the job.

It reminds me of something….I just can’t remember what.

Food for thought as I contemplate the future of non-profits in a world where corporate support and media partnerships have become de rigeur and the pressure to watch what I say leads me to second guess the wisdom of quoting Samuel L. Jackson catch phrases verbatim on these Blog pages.

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