Newsletter: Privatization vs. The People

Privatization protest

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The essence of privatization today is to turn a public good into a profit center for Wall Street. US economic policy has created a wealth class that is grotesquely wealthy and under-taxed so that it has the money government needs to provide public services. This forces the government to borrow money from or sell a public service to the privateers or to create a public-private partnership (disguised corporate welfare and crony capitalism) in order to provide essential services. There is another way. We’ve reached a tipping point, as evidenced by the worldwide revolt through Occupy, the Arab Spring, the Indignados and other movements. We can reverse the trend toward privatization and inequality by claiming the commons for our mutual prosperity. If we believe in a more just, sustainable and democratic world, a world based on the common good, we will build the foundation for a world in which people work together to solve common problems and create an equitable economy that betters the lives for all.

The Bait And Switch Of Public-Private Partnerships

The Sea-to-Sky Highway in British Columbia (photo by D. Vincent Alongi)

By Pete Dolack of Systemic Disorder – This being the age of public relations, the genteel term “public-private partnership” is used instead of corporate plunder. A “partnership” such deals may be, but it isn’t the public who gets the benefits. We’ll be hearing more about so-called “public-private partnerships” in coming weeks because the new U.S. president, Donald Trump, is promoting these as the basis for a promised $1 trillion in new infrastructure investments. But the new administration has also promised cuts to public spending. How to square this circle? It’s not difficult to discern when we recall the main policy of the Trump administration is to hand out massive tax cuts to big business and the wealthy, and provide them with subsidies. Public-private partnerships are one of the surest ways of shoveling money into the gaping maws of corporate wallets, used, with varying names, by neoliberal governments around the world, particularly in Europe and North America.

EZ Pass -- Tip Of The Road Privatization Vacuum Cleaner

Flickr/ teofilo

By Bruce A. Dixon for Black Agenda Report – Since EZ Pass has made toll collection possible without stopping traffic. The Obama administration increased the number of interstate highways where toll lanes are allowed, and the Trump administration is expected to rely even more heavily on borrowing from the rich for infrastructure projects rather than taxing them. A toll is the extraction of revenue from users of a road or bridge. Unlike manufacturing buses or serving up burgers, extracting tolls is a purely parasitic economic activity which produces no benefit for anybody except the toll collector. Until recently, the problem with toll extraction was that you had to stop the traffic. In recent years the introduction of electronic toll extraction systems, in which vehicle RFID stickers echo transmissions from roadside transponders along with unique identifiers has largely solved that problem for the toll collectors.

Trump Advisors Aim To Privatize Oil-Rich Indian Reservations

A man from the Lakota Sioux tribe with a Native American tattoo on his neck poses for a photograph during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

By Valerie Volcovici for Reuters – WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. Now, a group of advisors to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews. The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership – a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations…

Paul Ryan Unveiled Plan To Privatize Medicare And It’s Insane

evilryan

By Zach Cartwright for U.S. Uncut – A GOP-controlled Congress is convening in January with Donald Trump as the next president. This means Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan may become law. Since Republicans took over the senate in 2014, the only check on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda has been President Obama. But as January 20 approaches, it’s important to understand the details of the Ryan plan and how it would affect the Great Society program that’s loved by millions of retirees across the country. Speaker Ryan first unearthed his plan to permanently privatize Medicare in 2011, and each new bill he introduces is a variation on the original plan.

Report: Privatization Drives Inequality

From inequality.org

By Sheila Kennedy for Inequality – I am one of those tiresome academics who has repeatedly criticized so-called privatization of government functions. I say “so-called” because what Americans call privatization is no such thing. Actual privatization would require government to sell off or otherwise abandon a particular activity, and let the private sector handle it, much like Margaret Thatcher selling England’s steel mills to private-sector interests.

Brazil Approves Handing Pre-Salt Oil Reserves To Multinationals

Petrobras believes Brazil's pre-salt discovery is one of the world's most important in the past decade. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Tele Sur – This is the most recent move by the Senate-imposed government of Brazil to privatize key industries in the country. Brazil’s chamber of deputies approved Wednesday to privatize the country’s offshore pre-salt assets and allow multinationals to own exploration rights, a move social organizations argue will put the country’s natural resources in foreign hands.

Report: Privatization Drives Inequality

inequality.org

By Sheila Kennedy for Inequality – I am one of those tiresome academics who has repeatedly criticized so-called privatization of government functions—I say “so-called” because what Americans call privatization is no such thing. Actual privatization would require government to sell off or otherwise abandon a particular activity, and let the private sector handle it. (Much like Margaret Thatcher selling England’s steel mills to private-sector interests.)

Rapid Burnout, Dissatisfaction Of U.S. Doctors Threatens Public Health Crisis

Tim Waclawski / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Alexander Reed Kelly for Truth Dig – Half of U.S. physicians are “disengaged, burned out, and demoralized and plan to either retire, cut back on work hours, or seek non-clinical roles,” reports MedPage Today, citing a new nationwide survey commissioned by The Physicians Foundation. “Many physicians are dissatisfied with the current state of the medical practice environment and they are opting out of traditional patient care roles,” said Walker Ray, MD, president of The Physicians Foundation, in remarks that appeared with the survey.

Like Water For Education

Detroit Water shut-off protest sign. Photograph by James Fassinger

By Staff of Education Alchemy – About a month back I was watching a documentary entitled Flow about the corporate takeover of water as a global resource. Within minutes I could see the frightening parallels between what the documentary was illustrating about corporations who destroy and wrest control over our most precious resource, water, and how corporations are now wresting control over another precious commodity, public education

Privatization Of Public Education: This Changes Everything

Supporters of public education and the Overpass Light Brigade pack a school board meeting against privatization (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

By Staff of Education Alchemy – I recently read Naomi Klein’s new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate. I was struck by how many similarities there were between the struggle to abate massive climate disaster and the current fight for public education. I think this is a good analogy because like climate change, education “reform” (aka privatization) is everywhere and nowhere. While the issues are clearly related to human and civil rights, there are no lunch counters to sit at, no visible or tangible signs of du-jure segregation.

‘Travesty’: Nestlé Outbids Another Town For Control Of Local Water Supply

Nestlé dropped its conditions, including pump tests for quality, to win the bid. (Photo: Raúl Hernández González/flickr/cc)

By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Corporate giant Nestlé continued its privatization creep on Thursday as it won approval to take over another Canadian community’s water supply, claiming it needed the well to ensure “future business growth.” Nestlé purchased the well near Elora, Ontario from Middlebrook Water Company last month after making a conditional offer in 2015, the Canadian Press reports. In August, the Township of Centre Wellington made an offer to purchase the Middlebrook well site to protect access to the water for the community.

The Heavy Price of Chile’s Privatized Water

Protesters in Santiago last month, who called for an end to privatised water in Chile. Photograph: Miguel Hechenleitner/Movimiento por la Recuperación del Agua y la Vida

By Daniel Gallagher for the Guardian. When it comes to water, Chile is failing its citizens. In Santiago, the nation’s capital, millions of people are regularly left without running water for days at a time and experts are warning of water scarcity to come across the country astemperatures rise and glaciers retreat. “What we need is a transformation away from the private model of water ownership and to recognise water as a human right,” says Francisca Fernández, spokeswoman for the Movimiento por la Recuperación del Agua y la Vida which campaigns for public ownership of water. The organisation emerged four years ago at a time of mounting climatic stress in Santiago. A recent protest saw at least 2,000 people take to the capital’s streets to demand the repeal of laws that privatised Chile’s water supply. At the heart of the protest and others like it in recent years lies frustration that the privatisation of water has kept prices unnecessarily high, delivered poor service and done little to address concerns over insufficient supply in the future.

Greece: A Country For Sale

The Athens airport. Todd Douglas

By Eleni Portaliou for Jacobin – The most persistent myth concerning Syriza’s capitulation to the troika is that it was a “forced choice.” To put it differently, “there was no alternative” to signing a third memorandum, given an extremely unfavorable balance of forces at a European and international level. This is the only seemingly rational argument Tsipras and his followers have been able to produce defending their actions.

Honduran Police Clash With Students At Anti-Privatization Protest

Masked students of UNAH raise their hands during a protest in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, July, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Tele Sur – Police officers are trying to clear an occupation by university students, after protesters took over part of Honduras’ public university. Police forces clashed with a group of students who took the administrative building of the main campus of the National Autonomous University of Honduras Thursday in the capital of Tegucigalpa, as part of protests against privatization of education, teleSUR correspondent Gerardo Torres reported.