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Need to Know, September 16, 2011: Privatizing infrastructure, government and the private sector

This week's host, Scott Simon. Photo: Will O’Leary

This week, NPR “Weekend Edition” host Scott Simon guest hosts Need to Know in the first episode of our new half-hour format. We look at the ways some cities have decided to cope with dwindling funds and the threat of bankruptcy — leasing public assets to private investors.

Also, former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman discusses shrinking state budgets and the difficult decisions states are faced with in today’s economy.

And: Jon Meacham returns with an “In Perspective” essay on the balance between the government and the private sector.

Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

City for sale: The politics of privatizing infrastructure

As communities across the country struggle to make ends meet, leasing public assets to private investors is an increasingly attractive way to generate much needed cash.  Need to Know correspondent Rick Karr travels to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a town on the brink of bankruptcy that’s considering leasing its parking infrastructure, and Chicago, Illinois, a city that decided in 2008 to plug its budget gaps by leasing its parking meters to investors for 75 years.

Christine Todd Whitman on states and shrinking budgets

Need to Know host Scott Simon talks to former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman about the difficult choices states are facing in this tough economic climate.

In Perspective: A Jon Meacham essay

As the Republican Presidential debates continue, Jon Meacham weighs in on the complicated and delicate balance between government and the private sector.


Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.