GUEST: Jonathan H. Marks, director of the Bioethics Program at Penn State University, and affiliate faculty in Law and International Affairs. He is also an academic member of Matrix Chambers, London and Geneva, a leading group of human rights lawyers. His TED talk, In Praise of Conflict, has over a million views and was the basis for his new book, The Perils of Partnership: Industry Influence, Institutional Integrity, and Public Health.
BACKGROUND: The idea of public-private partnerships to spur innovation or to promote public health, is not controversial. Local and state governments, and even the federal government often rely on relationships with private corporations to fund initiatives, making an implicit assumption that competitive pricing and efficiency will result in better outcomes.
But a new book exposes the ugly downside of public-private partnerships. In entering into agreements with private companies, government institutions are loathe to hold accountable the entities on which they depend and end up trading away the rights of real people. When the line between the private good and the public good is blurred, the public often pays the price.
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