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Beware those 'public-private partnerships'

Governments all over the world are waking up to the fact that they can no longer directly tax citizens to fund all of their grand schemes. That may sound like good news. Unfortunately, it is not.

The result of this realization is something far more hideous than big government. Big government has an address. It’s tangible. You can see it at work. You can defend yourself against it. There is some measure of accountability to the people.

What’s emerging today in its wake is far more slippery, far more nebulous, much tougher to identify, much tougher to combat and almost wholly unaccountable to average people.

You can see striking evidence of this new development in Ted Turner’s gift of $1 billion to the United Nations. Bill Clinton recognized it immediately in his speech to the General Assembly last week in which he praised Turner’s “largesse.”

“Innovative partnerships with the private sector … and the international financial institutions can leverage effectiveness many times over,” Clinton said. “His gesture highlights the potential for partnership between the U.N. and the private sector in contributions of time, resources and expertise. And I hope more will follow his lead.”

And what exactly does that mean? It means that the elite who want to reshape the world social order can do so without asking for our cooperation — without convincing us the direction they want to go is the right one. They’ll do it not solely with our tax dollars, they’ll do it through “public-private partnerships.”

I guaranty you’ll be hearing this mantra for “public-private partnerships” more frequently in the months and years to come. Hillary Clinton invoked it more recently in promoting her federalized child-care cause. It sounds like privatization, which people like. But it’s not. It’s more of a way to blur our thinking about where we’re headed. It is, simply, a way for the rich to get richer and the powerful to grow more powerful. It’s a way to turn politicians into little more than useful idiots for forces and trends too large for detection on most people’s radar screens.

Why is the private sector more effective and dangerous? Well, it has virtually unlimited resources, yet faces none of the messiness of public scrutiny, policy debates or constitutional limitations. In other words, the private sector is free to run like a dictatorship — and, at least in the short run, dictatorships are always more efficient than democracies.

Thus, the elected officials of the world are not nearly as powerful today as the Ted Turners, the George Soroses, the Bill Gateses — the people who manage the world’s wealth. Sovereign national governments are in retreat. Nation-states are not as powerful as they were a generation ago — or even during the Cold War. Many conservatives are cheering this development. But they’re missing the point — and the looming threat it represents.

“For all their flaws, government institutions are at least partly controlled by democratically elected representatives,” writes Walter Russell Mead in last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. “If power leaks away from these institutions to unaccountable private institutions, or to an even less accountable global economy, then important decisions — including decisions for peace or war — might escape public control altogether.”

So while the American public alternately laughs and cries over the latest raging debate in Washington — campaign finance reform — the fact is that it may be next to irrelevant who we elect to national office. It could be little more than a sideshow by the next presidential campaign in the year 2000.

The real power today is moving away from the state toward the global superstate. Ted Turner understands this fact and is investing in the one institution that can protect his interests in the future. That’s right — the United Nations. Superficially, it may seem impotent to us at the moment. But that’s where the paradigm shift is moving. That is the world’s new center of gravity — or, at least it will be in the very near future.

Is this an irreversible trend? When you consider the fact that there are probably no more than 10 or 12 members of Congress visionary enough to see what’s happening — that we are losing our country, our national heritage of constitutional freedoms, inalienable rights and self-determination, short of divine intervention the outlook for an about-face is not bright.