During the 2008 presidential campaign, much was made of Sarah Palin’s decision to sell a state owned aircraft on eBay. Beyond the beneficial financial details of the transaction, the move rang a bell for self-proclaimed common sense conservatives. Government should act like a business, they said. Why own a plane when you can rent one whenever you needed it, without the overhead and burden of ownership? Makes sense, and could be one of the few things Sarah did right before quitting to join the talk show circus.
The state of Arizona in 2010 took the privatization express to a new level and actually sold the state capitol. No, this is not a joke. The always imitated but never duplicated half-witted governor of the state, Jan Brewer, signed off on the deal, and the government of Arizona became a renter instead of an owner of its own capitol building. Far Right conservatives praised the creative approach that would, we were told, save the state and its taxpayers lots of money. Private business now owned the state House, the Senate and a nine-story executive tower. With profit as its guiding beacon of hope, private business would better manage the property and everyone would win.
Fast forward to 2012, and suddenly, privatization might not be all it was advertised to be. The state negotiated the sale-leaseback arrangement for $81 million in 2010. Today, lawmakers are preparing to buy back the capitol building. Two years after selling it, they will pay $105 million. Now, without a calculator, I estimate that’s a $24 million loss in only 2 years time. Brilliant!
From Gov. Brewer’s State of the State speech: “Most of our Capitol complex, including the building we gather in today, is not ours,” Brewer said. “So … to make all of our Capitol truly ours once again, I’m asking that you send me a bill by Statehood Day that allows me to buy back the Capitol.”
Memo to knee jerk conservatives: Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it is good. Think about that next time your favorite politician rails for a “part-time citizen legislature” or a tax plan with only 3 numbers (all identical), or a foreign policy that consists of bombing others as the first line of defense...or an oil pipeline that cuts through the drinking source for 1.5 million people. The citizens of Arizona saved money in 2010. The citizens of Arizona lost more money in 2012 than they saved in 2010. That would be a bad deal, for those keeping count at home.
My favorite Jan Brewer clip of all-time:
and here is Jan Brewer doing her impression of Rick Perry (extra special bonus):