I had to go to court today (I guess it's officially yesterday now). Well, I didn't have to, I chose to, to get a speeding ticket reduced. I saw it as an exercise in patience and an opportunity to test my practice of trying to make whoever I encounter in stores and offices etc. feel better than when I encountered them.
In the process of doing the latter I befriended a guard who was manning, actually womanning, the metal detector you had to pass through at the entrance. She and her fellow security guard telling us where to line up etc. had guns but they also had patches on that seemed to indicate they weren't police and the courthouse is in the police station in my town.
I asked her if she worked for a private security firm and she said indeed she did. I asked if she got medical coverage and she said she did. We both laughed at the absurdity of private security guards guarding a police station. But when I thought about it, it wasn't really funny. I assume they make less than the cops and that's why the town hires them instead of hiring more cops. And they probably aren't unionized and don't get pensions or very good ones.
[As I've written before, I had a lot of cops in my extended family growing up (still do have a few) and back then they could afford to own a house in our town and put their kids through college. Now, of course, the cops can't afford to live in the same town and their spouses have to work and some of them have to work extra jobs, so you know these security guards the town hired to help out are doing even less well...]
The man was Hispanic and spoke with a heavy accent so I assumed he was an immigrant. The woman guard was African-American. I wondered how much training they got and what the limits of their duties were but didn't get a chance to find out. I liked them both, tough but friendly, at least to me, the only person there who spoke to them as far as I saw. The people there for court reflected them, heavily accented immigrants and African Americans, for the most part. I wondered where all the "white" people were since the town has a lot of them.
But mostly I thought about privatization and how it is destroying the country. Because the corporations that get the contracts that used to be government run, cut wages (but exponentially increase CEO salaries) and cut pensions and benefits and do less training and eliminate jobs that actually help people live better lives etc. In fact my guess is the security company they worked for probably subcontract all that out anyway and the security guards probably make even less as a result.
Then I read an article that sums up the whole problem with privatization pretty neatly. You can read it here.