June 3, 2013


Raising Ugly Questions About Privatization. I finally read Rachel Maddow’s really interesting book called Drift, and in it she analyzes how easy it has become for America to go to war. And one of the primary elements of this — and this overlaps with my own thinking — is that by allowing corporations to perform what used to be considered public services, government leaders can enter conflicts without the encountering public resistance like the ones that marked conflicts in the last part of the twentieth century. Many government and even military jobs are now outsourced to private companies, and Maddow concludes that the need to sell the public on a war is diminished because many of the functions and services formerly performed by the U.S. military are subcontracted to corporations. Huffington Post

OH: Speed Cameras Tear Apart Ohio Town. The controversy began in September 2012 when the village allowed Optotraffic to begin issuing $105 tickets using a portable speed camera with a 40 percent cut of the revenue going to the private company. Tickets were being issued at a rate that would have generated $2 million per year, or over $1000 per resident. “Businesses have lost customers who now refuse to drive through Elmwood,” Judge Robert P. Ruehlman explained in a March ruling. “Churches have lost members who are frightened to come to Elmwood and individuals who have received notices were harmed because they were unable to defend themselves against the charges brought against them.”  theNewspaper.com

IL: Parking meter contract left no clever ways out, alas. What if, to turn the screws on the private parking meter company that has Chicago in a vise of its own, the city imposed an exorbitant, crippling tax on parking meter revenues? It was an idea submitted by one of my readers, and I put it to the city’s top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Steve Patton, and the city’s chief financial officer, Lois Scott, when they visited the Tribune on Thursday afternoon. Chicago Tribune

WI: UW parking ramps and dorms, but not sports palaces, could end up for sale. That proposal, supported by Gov. Scott Walker and advanced by the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee last week, would give the governor broad authority to sell state-owned properties, including facilities operated by the UW System. It would cut the UW System’s Board of Regents out of the process but would require a cost-benefit analysis and legislative approval for any sale…. In addition to potentially losing control over many of its buildings, UW campuses also could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue if the state sold or leased parking ramps and other self-supporting facilities. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noam Chomsky on Democracy and Education in the 21st Century and Beyond Falcone: Do we as a nation have a reason to fear an assault on public education and the complete privatization of education?  Chomsky: It’s part of the way of controlling and dumbing down the population, and that’s important. Much has to do with the catastrophe that’s looming, mainly environmental catastrophe. It’s very serious. It’s not generations from now; it’s your children and your grandchildren. And the public is pretty close to the scientific consensus. If you look at polls, it will say it’s a serious problem; we’ve got to do something about it. Government doesn’t want to, and the corporate sector not only doesn’t want to, it’s strongly opposed to it. So now, take for example ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s corporate funded, the Koch brothers and those guys. It’s an organization which designs legislation for states, for state legislators. And they’ve got plenty of clout, so they can get a lot of it through. Now they have a new program, which sounds very pretty on the surface. It’s designed to increase “critical thinking.” And the way you increase critical thinking is by having “balanced education.” “Balanced education” means that if you teach kids something about the climate, you also have to teach them climate change denial. It’s like teaching evolution science, but also creation science, so that you have “critical thinking.” All of this is a way of turning the population into a bunch of imbeciles. That’s really serious. I mean, it’s life and death at this point, not just making society worse.  Truthout