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You Don't Always Get What You Pay For: The Economics of Privatization (A Century Foundation Book)

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801487620
ISBN-10: 0801487625
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sclar . . . has written a highly readable. . . account. . . which ought to be required reading for those engaged in contracting out government services. Recommended for public, academic, and professional library collections."―Choice, October, 2000.

"The domestic enthusiasts of privatization seem to believe that if you want a job done right you must ask the private sector to do it. . .Before they bubble over with giddy, rich-kid ideas like letting Federal Express take over the local post office, they should sit quietly in a corner and read Elliot D. Sclar's new book, You Don't Always Get What You Pay For . . . With breathtaking clarity, Professor Sclar reminds us that today's privatization is nothing more than a fancy label for yesterday's public contracting . . .But as this book demonstrates with one delicious and well documented example after another, you don't have to be corrupt to botch public contracting . . . The wisest lesson that Professor Sclar offers is that poorly managed privatization can collide with important public values . . . His examples and his analysis―and most of all his plea for sensible attention to good public management techniques―deserve wide notice. Even if politicians don't heed his advice, taxpayers should. "―Diana B. Hendriques. The New York Times. May 14,2000.

"Sclar analyzes the assumptions behind the case for privatization of all public services such as hospitals, prisons, and fire departments. The goal of this book is to present readers with a better understanding of the author's recommendations to balance the use of contracting with internal reform to enhance the operation of public agencies."―Mary Whaley. Booklist. June 1, 2000.

"Elliot Sclar's important new book, You Don't Always Get What You Pay For: The Economics of Privatization. . . .shows, in an accessible and non-technical style that, to understand the strengths and weaknesses of public service privatization, it is necessary to understand the theory behind the policy."―Regional Labor Review. 2000.

"Addresses the factors that must go into any decision to reorganize public service, examines the economic reasons why the reform strategy of privatization in the form of public contracting often bogs down, and constructs solutions aimed at improving public service."―Journal of Economic Literature. December, 2000

"This book by Elliot Sclar is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the bases and consequences of the still powerful drive to privatize. . . In short, Sclar's book is a work of enlightenment. . . It should be studied closely by anybody with a serious interest in these important issues."―Edward S. Herman, University of Pennsylvania. Texas Observer, September 2000

"You Don't Always Get What You Pay For is an excellent book on an extremely important topic, discussing in depth the theory and practice, and pitfalls as well as promises, of privatization. Elliott Sclar does a wonderful job of placing the debate in its proper theoretical context, which few others do, and explaining rather complex concepts in an easily understood style―no small feat. I was stunned by Sclar's ability to describe rather obtuse theories so readily―there are 'gems' throughout. He has a gift."―Bruce Wallin, Northeastern University

"Elliott Sclar's critique will serve as a valuable reality check against the rush to private contracting as the solution to government's problems. In this empirically rich, closely reasoned book, Sclar shows how privatization diverts attention from effective strategies for government reform that are based on innovation, employee involvement, and the redesign of services."―Martin D. Hanlon, Queens College of the City University of New York

"How to describe You Don't Always Get What You Pay For―as practical assessment anchored by theory, or as theory enriched by real-world examples? From either angle, Elliott Sclar freshens and deepens an important debate."―John D. Donahue, Harvard University, author of The Privatization Decision

"Proponents of greater reliance of private contracting for government services, among whom I count myself, often speak as if privatization guarantees better results at lower costs. But Elliott Sclar's careful analysis of the historical record will persuade all but the most hardened skeptic that this is not always true. You Don't Always Get What You Pay For should be required reading for government reform advocates from all parts of the political spectrum."―Robert H. Frank, Cornell University
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Product Details

  • Series: A Century Foundation Book
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (November 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801487625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801487620
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dr. J. E. Richmond on April 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellently-written critique of privatization. In case after case, Sclar reveals that all is not as it might seem, and that beneath the apparition of improved efficiency lies a different reality supporters of privatization might not want revealed.
The book does not tell the whole story. Sclar has long been a critic of privatization, and he frankly doesn't highlight the successes of privatization -- and these certainly do exist. I don't really think there is a case to be made specifically "for privatization" or "anti-privatization," but a requirement for more balanced analysis, which has not been present in the output of privatization advocates. There is also a need to examine ways that the public sector can be made more efficient without necessarily bringing in a privatization approach.
Sclar provides a valuable service in laying out a series of critical paths in an uncommonly well-written text, and prompts readers to ask the difficult questions. Well worth reading. If you are specifically interested in public transportation, also take a look at my new book -- The Private Provision of Public Transport -- available through Amazon.
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Format: Hardcover
Neck-deep in ideologically driven rhetoric about how privatization is as American as motherhood and apple pie and must be good for you? Frustrated at knowing there's more to this but you would need an un-bought economist to help you understand the real story? Help is here. Buy this book. Read, mark, learn, inwardly digest. . . . Sclar is going to have an impact on this debate. His parsing of the issues is a great start and, what's best, this book is going to stimulate more like it. This is the beginning of the skeptical and critical assay of the issues. Go for it. You too can now begin to build your own informed voice to start the shaping of a balanced dialogue. (By the way, the point is well made that improvement of public sector services, not just resistance to privatization initiatives, is the course we must set.)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is fantastic for several reasons. The book's policy relevance is global and has only increased in the years since Sclar wrote it. Armed with a solid body of evidence, Sclar confronts and debunks the preposterous, faith-based propaganda with which proponents of privatisation impose market discipline on public services. Another wonderful thing is that Sclar writes in plain English rather than in the verbose, distracting, abstract dialect that many scholars tend to use, so Sclar's points are clear, powerful, and comprehensible to the general public. This book is a tremendous asset for those who advocate public control and provision of essential services.
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By A Customer on May 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In his book, Elliott Sclar takes complex economic theories and makes them comprehensible for the rest of us. He provides compelling new arguments against privitization, and adds new depth to the on going debate. A must for people entering the field and even those already in the field.
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