Letters to the Editor

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TACOMA: Public services equal public benefit

Letter by Hill Eshbach, Gig Harbor on Nov. 30, 2010 at 11:05 am with 5 Comments »
November 30, 2010 11:23 am

Re: “Tacoma’s ‘public-ization'” (TNT, 11-28).

This article proposes to sort out if Tacoma is trying to do too much in offering public services by comparing Tacoma’s offerings with the public services of other “similar-sized cities.”

To take just one of the article’s concerns, and one that most everyone uses, namely, “electric power,” the article fails to compare the cost to the ratepayers of public vs. private electricity.

Public electricity, and other such public services, don’t have the profit motive involved in their delivery. Hence, no profit for the capitalists and Wall Street. The other public services mentioned in the article also don’t get any less expensive when run by profit-making corporations.

Secondly, why shouldn’t those “comparison cities” increase their public services up to the standard that Tacoma has established, instead of having their citizens pay higher rates to the investor-owned utilities and corporations?

“Public-ization” is a made-up bogey man word for “public services” to try to undermine the legitimacy of such services, in the service of the private, corporate and Wall Street sector. Many of us see what kind of stuff Wall Street is made of, and the common good has no part in their vision.

This ostensibly objective comparison is really not objective at all, nor is it a concern for the common good of Tacomans, because it leaves out the increased cost factor. Rather, it is an attempt to suggest that we should take public services away from Tacomans, privatize those services, and make Tacomans pay higher rates to the private/for-profit/corporate sector.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. What is the point of the column? Do you want the city to investigate whether or not every function listed should be disposed of to the highest bidder? Where is the cost analysis? For year upon year I begged the various cable companies to provide service to our street. It was too costly because they would have to bury the cables. Not until the Rainier Communications Commission got involved did TCI provide service-poor service. And, not until Click entered the market did the cable provider upgrade service from terrible to poor. Cable rates by profit motivated companies are cheaper in areas serviced by Click than areas serviced by Comcast alone. Same with Internet usage. Same with electric power. I’ll keep the ‘devil’ I know rather than the ‘devil’ I don’t know. I find the Tacoma city government is very responsive to consumer inquiries and complaints- more so than private enterprise. And, I’d rather see my neighbors have decent paying jobs than minimum wage jobs and no benefits. Yes, there may be areas the City of Tacoma can improve it’s service and cut inefficiencies, but, I do not want my bills to include a dividend override to a corporation.

    It is also interesting Ken Miller did not extend is questioning to providing public housing of which he is the Tacoma Housing Authority Commissioner. Shouldn’t the private sector build, maintain, and otherwise provide housing to the poor and middle income people of Tacoma? I don’t think private enterprise is interested in providing housing for less than free market rates.

  2. nwcolorist says:

    One area Mr. Eshbach apparently misses in his comparison of rate payer’s charges is the public subsidies that taxpayers are forced to contribute so that the customer billings can be so low.

    It would be interesting to see what the actual charges would be if the cost to taxpayers were averaged in to the monthly billings. It’s my guess the increase could very well be more than the increase from the dividends that those “evil” private companies add to the customer’s bill.

  3. I’ve never seen any evidence the general fund monies are being used to subsidize rate payers on a local level. Everything I read indicates our various bills go up to reflect increased costs. The only point that has been raised over the years is the below market rates from Bonneville. And. there always has been talk to sell of the hydro electric system to private companies. Of course, if the City of Tacoma got out of all the utility business and rates went up the City of Tacoma would reap great increased taxes in the form of the utility taxes. The mutual electric provider in the county south of Tacoma has even lower rates than City Light. That utility doesn’t get a subsidy and is not profit motivated. What reason do you have for their low rates?

  4. sumner402 says:

    the public subsidies that taxpayers are forced to contribute so that the customer billings can be so low.

    And what would those be?
    Do you have anything to back that up or is this yet another case ‘just make something up’?

  5. sumner402 says:


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