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Profits of doom by Antony Loewenstein
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Profits of doom

by Antony Loewenstein

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Profits of Doom is an interesting book, but only to a point. It does a fine job of discussing the limitations - as well as the downside - of efforts to privatize and/or outsource government services to private companies. The idea that it may be more cost effective to engage in this practice flies in the face of an important reality: private companies operate in order to make profit, and in the course of making profit, the interests of the company may conflict with the interests of the government, the public at large, and the recipients/subjects of the service in question.

However, while Mr. Loewenstein does us a great service by bringing the shortcomings of privatization to light, there are some weaknesses to his approach. There is no doubt, at any time, that the author is fairly biased against privatization. Surely there must be some examples of outsourcing that have been successful ... right?

More importantly, while Loewenstein claims that there are public documents that show the problems of privatizing, or that explicitly demonstrate legal or moral problems, his narrative is generally on the level of yellow journalism - subjective "facts," claims, innuendo, and supposition. I think more by way of objective proof should have been provided. This may be a limitation of the medium in which the material is presented (this is the stuff investigative TV journalism and filmed documentaries are made of), but more detailed evidence would be beneficial.

The other problem I have is simply with the heavy-handed approach Loewenstein takes. A good expose would show what happened, why it apparently happened, how it happened, where it happened, and who was responsible. Loewenstein attempts to do this, but the sheer amounts of narrative, of piling tons and tons of repetitive illustrations on the reader, make it seem as if he is thrashing about trying to make a case, rather than giving us a succinct statement of the affair.

In short, Mr. Loewenstein seems to be trying to bring out a sense of outrage in the reader, but (at least in my case) he succeeds only in overstating the case and boring the reader to death - and I am in complete agreement with him as far as privatization is concerned. Someone who was less inclined to agree with him may very well be put off by his journalistic style.

This is an interesting book about an important issue, but it needs to be written by someone with a clearer voice. ( )
  jpporter | Jul 21, 2014 |
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Disaster capitalism is the ideology of our age, supported by the vast bulk of the political and media elites. And yet its work is often done by stealth. Privatised war and outsourced detention centres. Mining companies pillaging precious land in developing countries. Struggling nations invaded by NGOs and the corporate dollar. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein travels to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and across Australia to reveal the reality of this largely hidden world. Who is involved and why? Can it be stopped? What are the alternatives in a globalised world? The kind of investigative book that makes you sit up and take notice.… (more)

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