Privatization


A Grand Alliance To Save Our Public Postal Service.

"The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could provide clean water, adequate diets, sanitations services and basic education to every person on the planet. And we wonder why terrorists attack us." - John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

An Expanding U.S. Postal Service Is Very Possible by Ralph Nader... the USPS still reliably delivers over 150 billion pieces of mail a year, at uniform rates, regardless of whether or not the area is deemed profitable for deliveries. The corporate mailers cannot make the same claim. The USPS has impressively not taken any taxpayer money since 1971, a feat not achieved by many subsidized or bailed-out big corporations... The postal service has suffered from a severe lack of broad thinking and imaginative leadership.

Danny Glover Video: A Grand Alliance to save the US Post Office

Chris Hedges: The Prison State of America The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke—and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison—prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison...

Prisons are a grotesque manifestation of corporate capitalism. Slavery is legal in prisons under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States. …” And the massive U.S. prison industry functions like the forced labor camps that have existed in all totalitarian states.

Greed Kings of 2014: How They Stole from Us, byPaul Buchheit As schools and local governments are going broke around the country, companies who built their businesses with American research and education and technology and infrastructure are paying less in taxes than ever before. It's not just greed, it's theft.

New (Deplorable) American Order The Privatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation)... The most striking aspect of this little brouhaha lies in what’s most obvious but least highlighted.

An American secretary of state chose to set up her own private, safeguarded email system for doing government work; that is, she chose to privatize her communications... should be taken as a tiny symptom of... the ongoing privatization of the American state, or at least the national security part of it...

Only 13 years later [after 9/11), there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The U.S. military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases, and being involved in just about all of its activities, including training the militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, including torture, drone strikes

In _The Age of Acquiescence_, a new book about America’s two Gilded Ages, Steve Fraser asks why it was that, in the nineteenth century, another period of plutocratic excesses, concentration of wealth and inequality, buying of politicians, and attempts to demobilize the public, Americans took to the streets with such determination and in remarkable numbers over long periods of time to protest their treatment, and stayed there even when the brute power of the state was called out against them. In our own moment, Fraser wonders, why has the silence of the public in the face of similar developments been so striking?

COMMENTS:

All of what he shows is in ultimate service of maintaining the corrupted and bankrupt Bretton Woods/IMF/WTO/World Bank/US$-reserve-currency system. This is in the face of a strengthening BRICS+ multi-currency project, which is beginning to challenge the US/NATO power to dictate terms to the world. The rest of the world is simply trying to minimize the US's ability to hurt them.

Tom is correct, but in light of the imminent collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the US gov'ts incapacity to do anything other than spy, bomb and kill is frightening beyond anything since WW2. Be aware WW3 will not be only fought "over there".

ANOTHER: Mr. Engelhardt has penned a pretty good analysis, although there are a number of vital items missing from it.

Firstly, in comparing the prior robber-baron era with this one, the tell tale difference is not just the presence of a mass media, but the fact that its corporate owners have invested heavily in behavior modification and mind control.

The importation of Nazi scientists who had learned a great deal about the relationship between trauma (on mass as well as individual levels) and mind control was not lost on those with an interest in controlling population pools.

Creeping Corporatism

"Every area of social service has been cut, not because we have a $10 billion deficit but because House Republicans do not believe government SHOULD help people...

"Benito Mussolini said, "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power"...

"What you get when you privatize and outsource is something like the Department of Defense and the military-industrial complex. We spend $399 billion a year on defense, and if you think that money is well spent because much of it gets run through defense contractors, you have not been paying attention. DOD is the happy home of the $700 hammer, the endless cost over-run, and the revolving door, with accompanying conflicts of interest and dubious contracts. It's a fiscal nightmare. The Pentagon once had to announce that it couldn't account for $17 billion.

"You get nightmare public policy consequences, as well. What happens if you privatize prisons is that you have a large industry with a vested interest in building ever-more prisons. The result is even more idiocy, like the three-strikes law and long terms for small-time drug possession...

"And they [the neoconservatives] believe in all this with a self-righteous certitude that has to be seen to be believed."

Excerpts from an article by Molly Ivins in The Texas Observer (6/6/03)


More

"In Argentina, phone and energy bills rose by 30 percent on average after privatization" (Langman, Jimmy. "Bolivia's Fight for Dignity." The Nation, Nov. 17, 2003, 7).


"Taking privatization to extremes, a new law [in Texas] ends the public sector as we know it...

"...the state legislature passed a bill this past May that will result in the privatization of eligibility determination for TACH (the program that replaced welfare), food stamps and Medicaid -- fundamentally transforming the way social services are delivered in Texas...

"The union is one of the few groups in the state to recognize the daily agony of poverty, to take seriously and lend dignity to the difficult lives of poor people. Meanwhile, the Republican legislature obsessively and repetitively attacks government bureaucracy with the enthusiasm of an anorexic staring in the mirror...

"The privatization bill... collapses the twelve agencies that serve the neediest Texans... HUndreds of local welfare offices across the state that sign people up to receive food stamps, Medicaid, TANF, children's health insurance, disability and other public benefits will close. There will be no more face-to-face interviews... Instead, workers in four statewide call centers will enroll people from all over the state in programs over the phone. These call centers will be privatized. In addition, state mental hospitals and schools for the mentally disabled may now be sold to low bidders...

The main corporate player pushing welfare privatization in Texas is ACS State and Local Solutions...

"ACS maintains a staff of twenty-one lobbyists in Texas alone -- at a cost of $910,000 a year... The company lavishly donates to political campaigns...

"In fact, the welfare system in Texas is one of the stingiest in the country, but even beyond this... assumptions about privatization are problematic. For one thing, there is little proof that privatization really does lower costs or taxpayer expense...

"Public employers have historically been more ethnically and racially diverse than most private companies, and they have played a critical role in the creation of a black middle class. They do not usually fight unionization with the same bitter intensity, and thanks to civil service rules, they provide more rights and greater protections for employees. By contrast, private employers are accountable to no one...

"What's more, increasing the power of management and introducting profit-making considerations into the welfare state has a negative impact on social policy. Public review processes, reporting requirements, adequate staffing --- these can seem like "inefficiencies" to private corporations legally bound to deliver the highest return to investors. Prison privatization in Texas, for example, has been a well-documented disaster... the scandals were legion...

"Bush plans to subcontract hundredds of thousands of federal jobs that are now performed by civil servants. The effect, as in Texas, will be to dole out the public sector to politically connected corporate donors, while attacking one of the few remaining economic sectors where unions still wield substantial power...

"...the justification of privatization is ultimately that CEOs are the only people who can be trusted with social power -- never women...

"... privatization looks even worse on the ground than on paper. Already corporations are asking that their bids for government contracts be kept secret, beyond public scrutiny. It's not hard to see why..." (Kim Phillips-Fein. "Texas, Inc." The Nation, Jan. 5, 2004: 18-23).


"... the suicides of more than 3,000 highly indebted farmers [in India], crushed by high power and water charges (thanks to privatization).." (Praful Bidwai. "India's Radical Vote." The Nation, June 7, 2004: 22).


"Texas' welfare state endures a hostile corporate takeover.... No state in the country has ever employed call centers to such an extent [as Texas plans to] or completely privatized such a core government function...

"State health commissioners have handed this responsibility primarily to the 24 healthcare and technology experts... the group includes at least seven contractors from private companies... firing 4,500 state eligibility workers (a 57 percent reduction)" (Dave Mann. "Who You Gonna Call?" Texas Observer, 5/21/04: 6-7).


"...Uruguay. In these elections, for the first time in the country's history, the left won. And in the plebiscite, for the first time in world history, the privatization of water was rejected by popular vote, asserting that water is the right of all people...

"Uruguayans were bombarded with extortion, threats, and lies: A vote against privatizing water will condemn you to a future of sewage-filled wells and putrid ponds...

"...common sense triumphed...

"...sooner rather than later, in a thirsty world, the reserves of fresh water will be as, or more, coveted than oil reserves. Countries that are poor, but rich in water, must learn to defend themselves...

"In 1992, Uruguay was the only country in the world to put the privatization of public companies to a popular vote: 72 percent opposed. Wouldn't it be democratic to do the same in every country?...

"...Uruguay instituted free public education before England, women's suffrage before France, the eight-hour workday before the United States, and divorce before Spain" (Eduardo Galeano. "Where People Voted Against Fear." Progressive, January, 2005: 18-19).


".. the Bush Administration is racing to privatize everything of value. it is actively creating a fiscal crisis with policies revolving around tax cuts and empire-building"(Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 93).

"..the Bush Administration is so blatant in.. its rush to strip citizens of everything they hold in common" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 94).


"Corporations plan to use the GATS agreement to profit from the privatization of educational systems, healthcare systems, childcare, energy and municipal water services, postal services, libraries, museums, and public transportation...

"..the agreement prevents the government from taking actions on behalf of its citizens. Once a private contract has been given to a corporation, it CANNOT be revoked, even if the prices are so high [that] they lead to social unrest and violence" (Phillips, Peter, and Project Censored. Censored 2004: The Top 25 Censored Stories. NY: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 130-131).


"The fact that a truly free market didn't exist and cannot possibly work did not stop Britain's.. Margaret Thatcher from adopting it.. pushed the British government to sell off every power plant in the nation... meant that, for the first time in any nation, an electricity plant owner, namely Enron, could charge whatever the market could bear.." (122).

"Electricity prices jumped.. by 300 percent and 400 percent virtually overnight... five times the profit allowed by U.S. regulators" (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 125).


"Enron.. purchase[d] the water system of Buenas Aires... Workers were fired en masse, allowing Enron to pocket their pay... left the water contaminated" (134-135).

"Brazil's government privatized Rio Light, selling it... Reliant, the Houston company.. promised improved service for Rio -- then axed 40 percent of the company's workforce... Nearly every day, a new neighborhood went dark" (135).

"The windfall from reduced wages and price increases allowed the foreign owners to hike dividends [profits] by 1,000 percent" (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 136).


"One of the key aims of the GATS treaty is to turn publicly owned water services over to private enterprise...

"Public water was first sold off to corporate operators in England. Prices jumped 250 percent and watering English gardens has, at times, been criminalized...

"..the water privateers marched on Egypts, Indonesia, and Argentina. But when they reached Cochabamba, Bolivia.. the thirsty poor resisted...

"Six died in Bolivia. Another 175 were injured... after the military fired gas and bullets at demonstrators. The victims were opposing the 35 percent hike in water prices.." (177).

"To quell the spreading demonstrations, President Banzer announced cancellation of the water privatization on April 5, 2000...

"World Bank director Wolfensohn has a solution to the lack of water: raise its price" (180).

"..nearly one thousand executives and bureaucrats gathered in The Hague in March 2000 to review and refine a program to privatize the world's water systems.

"..these private operators.. can only turn a profit if prices rise radically and rapidly.." (Greg Palast. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. NY: Plume, 2003: 181).


Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS