European Cities Are Reclaiming Public Services From The Private Sector

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By Alexis Chemblette for VIce – In the ’80s a neoliberal tide swept across the West with the idea that welfares states had become too expensive and that privatizing public goods was better for stimulating the economy. During this era of fiscal conservatism, Western governments basically confined themselves supervisory roles over the economy, reduced to watchdogs enforcing norms and standards. But research has shown that as the government progressively pulls out of public life, many people lose access or experience the deterioration of services that improve their quality of life such as affordable housing, education, public transportation and health care. Now, cities across Europe are increasingly deciding to reclaim public services, spearheading a growing movement for “remunicipalization,” meaning the return of public services from private to public. According to Sakoto Kishimoto Lead Researcher at the Transnational Institute (TNI) people are over the idea of privatization. “They’re telling their citizens that they have to divest and squeeze budgets, but the feedback we’re getting is that local populations found public services more efficient and less costly,” Kishimoto said in a TNI report. Here are a few examples of local initiatives that have put the power back into the hands of people.

Battle To Oppose Water Privatization Returns Greece To Frontlines Of E.U. Crisis

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By Maria Paradia for Occupy – In late September 2016, the Syriza administration laid the groundwork to begin Greece’s water privatization, achieving a majority of 152 parliamentary votes and enacting series of new measures to transfer the state-run water companies of Athens (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki (EYATH) into a privatization superfund. The duration of the government’s participation in the superfund was set at 99 years, with lenders promising the Greek government a bailout of barely 2.8 billion euros – far lower than the projected 50 billion euros estimated earlier in the year. While Greece was forced to privatize its water sources, however, other countries like Germany were undergoing the opposite: a phase of de-privatization. In Berlin, after 12 years of poor management and exorbitant price hikes, the local government several years ago reclaimed its water resources. This turn of events caused a series of similar de-privatization initiatives across the country, revealing that the projected economic outcomes via privatization weren’t viable in the long term. In fact, the re-established state-run services were proven to be far more efficient, better organized and capable of providing higher-quality services than their privatized counterparts.

How A Federal Program Is Destroying Public Housing

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By Taya Graham for The Real News. Taya Graham: If there’s a single issue that illustrates Baltimore’s economic divide, it’s housing. While developers continue to reap generous tax breaks to build luxury apartments downtown, other neighborhoods suffer from neglect. In fact, when Under Armour billionaire Kevin Plank received $600 million in tax breaks to build Port Covington, he also won an exemption from the city’s affordable housing law. It’s this dichotomy between rich and poor, the haves and the have not, which the city has failed to address, a lack of balance even more profound in our public housing, which is literally falling apart, which is why we have assembled this panel of people to talk about how to solve this entrenched inequity. Jeff Singer is the former executive director of Health Care for the Homeless and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Lucky Crosby is a former housing employee who was a key whistleblower about the deplorable conditions of public housing. Reverend Annie Chambers was the first Green Party candidate to win a city-wide election to the Citizen Advisory Board of Douglas Homes, a city-run housings facility.

Reclaiming Public Services

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By Satoko Kishimoto, Olivier Petitjean and Lavinia Steinfort for Portside – Reclaiming Public Services is vital reading for anyone interested in the future of local, democratic services like energy, water and health care. This is an in-depth world tour of new initiatives in public ownership and the variety of approaches to deprivatisation. From New Delhi to Barcelona, from Argentina to Germany, thousands of politicians, public officials, workers, unions and social movements are reclaiming or creating public services to address people’s basic needs and respond to environmental challenges. They do this most often at the local level. Our research shows that there have been at least 835 examples of (re)municipalisation of public services worldwide since 2000, involving more than 1,600 municipalities in 45 countries. Why are people around the world reclaiming essential services from private operators and bringing their delivery back into the public sphere? There are many motivations behind (re)municipalisation initiatives: a goal to end private sector abuse or labour violations; a desire to regain control over the local economy and resources; a wish to provide people with affordable services; or an intention to implement ambitious climate strategies.

Greece Forced To Sell Public Water Utilities Under EU-Imposed Privatization Plan

A protester takes part in a rally against the privatization of the state-run water utility, in Thessaloniki, Greece.(AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

By Michael Nevradakis for Mint Press News – GREECE — In May 2016, the SYRIZA-led Greek government passed a new comprehensive set of economic austerity policies in exchange for receiving new loans that are intended to keep the country’s fragile economy afloat. This represents the fourth such “memorandum” between Greece and its creditors since the onset of the country’s economic crisis in 2009. It follows the third memorandum agreement passed by the SYRIZA-led government in the summer of 2015, just weeks after 62 percent of Greek voters rejected more EU-demanded austerity measures in the historic Greek referendum of July 5. What both of these memorandum agreements have in common, along with the first two agreements voted upon by previous Greek governments, is the wholesale imposition of economic austerity measures, including pension and wage cuts, in addition to a wide-ranging program of privatizations of key public assets. Just in the past year, 14 major regional Greek airports were privatized, as was the port of Piraeus, Greece’s largest port and one of the largest in Europe. More recently, the port of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, was also privatized to a consortium of investors.

Escalation & Privatization Of Law Enforcement Will Make Corps. Wealthier

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By Emily Verdugo for AlterNet – Back in August, the Obama administration issued a memo that many hoped signaled an end to the government’s use of for-profit prison corporations. That memo, issued by then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, stated that the Justice Department would stop contracting with CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) to run 13 federal prisons. This directive was a symbolic win for many of us who opposed these contracts, and we were thrilled when stocks in CoreCivic and GEO Group, another for-profit prison corporation, plummeted as a result. But the election of Donald Trump dashed a lot of those hopes. Acting on his campaign promise to be “tough on crime,”

Ten Global Struggles For Public Water

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By Lavinia Steinfort, Satoko Kishimoto and Denis Burke for Occupy.com. Throughout the world there are current battles where people are trying to prevent privatization of their water supply. On this World Water Day, March 22, we bring you 10 inspiring stories of communities and cities working to reclaim public control over water and wastewater services from major private water multinationals. These 10 stories come from Nigeria, Spain, Brazil, Indonesia, Portugal, Montana and California, but this is a global struggle between people, communities and business interests that want to control this vital and essential resource for people.

Newsletter - Visions For The Future

We Can Build The Future

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. The vision for the future laid out in President Trump’s budget is one of large cuts to the federal government for necessary agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development, privatization of services, such as air traffic control, and macho military might. It conjures visions of Nero fiddling as Rome burned. Ralph Nader writes in “‘Making America Great’ at American’s Expense,” that “The tower of contradictions, being constructed by Trump and the most extreme Republican Party in its history, won’t be camouflaged or distracted for long.” People are rising up and will continue to do so. The corporatist’s vision has been pushed for decades in the US and around the world, but there is another vision that is also growing in the hearts and minds of many.

Trump’s Budget Slashes Funding For Public Schools While Giving 1.4 Billion For Privatization

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By Carol Burris for The Network for Public Good – Donald Trump’s education budget is a declaration of war on public education and our nation’s neediest children. It was surely designed by Betsy DeVos. Trump’s budget would axe after-school programs known as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers which help school districts, churches and nonprofit groups serve more than 1.6 million American children, most of whom are poor. In defending the cuts to such programs, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said after-school programs don’t “show results.” He went on to say that feeding children after-school has never been proven to get them better jobs, so we cannot afford to do it anymore

Newsletter: Privatization vs. The People

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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

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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

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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

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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.