May 20, 2014


5 ways privatization is fleecing American taxpayers. For decades we’ve been subjected to constant propaganda that government is inefficient, bureaucratic and expensive. We’re told that the answer is to “privatize,” or “outsource” government functions to private businesses and they will do things more efficiently and everyone comes out ahead. As a result we have experienced decades of privatization of government functions. So how has this wave of privatization worked out? Has privatization saved taxpayers money and improved services to citizens? Simple answer: of course not. If a company can make a profit doing something the government had been doing, it means that we’re losing out one way or another. It’s simple math. And the result of falling for the privatization scam is that taxpayers have been fleeced, services to citizens have been cut way back and communities have been made poorer. But the companies that convinced governments to hand over public functions have gotten rich off of the deal. How is this a surprise?  Salon

How You’ll Get Screwed If Conservatives Kill the U.S. Postal Service. If USPS in its current form ceases to exist, the results will be harsh. . . . But if USPS in its current form ceases to exist, the results will be harsh, not only in terms of the job losses and loss of tax revenue (unionized postal workers pay a lot of federal and state taxes), but because of the hardships both businesses and consumers would suffer. The end of the U.S. Postal Service could mean more business for its two main privately owned competitors, Federal Express and the United Parcel Service (UPS). But to think either would offer a better deal to consumers is pure fantasy. AlterNet

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Privatize Science. This isn’t America’s first time seeing an infusion of personal wealth getting poured into research, but the last time around, it was done more democratically. The Atlantic

National study of charter schools finds massive fraud, mismanagement, abuse. . . The end goal of the report, say its authors, is to warn the public about the increasing risk that communities and taxpayers face by having an inadequately regulated charter industry. ‘Despite rapid growth in the charter school industry, no agency, federal or state, has been given the resources to properly oversee [charter schools]. Given this inadequate oversight,we worry that the fraud and mismanagement that has been uncovered thus far might be just the tip of the iceberg.’ The Progressive Pulse           

IA: Tensions grow over public-private economic development groups. The North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corp. reported in 2013 that it had delivered $65 million in new capital investment and created more than 200 new jobs in Clear Lake, Mason City and Cerro Gordo County.But officials failed to report the names of all of the companies, what incentives they received or what role the nonprofit played in securing that development. The nonprofit also last year hired Iowa State University head football coach Paul Rhoads, who commands fees in excess of $20,000, to speak at its annual dinner but refused to say how much he was paid. Experts say the public-private nature of some local and regional economic development groups raises questions about what information is considered public and what records can be kept under wraps. Similar concerns have been raised in the past with other public-private organizations like the Iowa Association of School Boards. Des Moines Register

IN: Worry Surrounds Privatization Of Public Pension System. Legislation passed this year required the Indiana Public Retirement System Board to delay privatizing a part of the public pension system. But some lawmakers are concerned the delay isn’t long enough. Indiana Public Media

OR: Liquor privatization initiative moves forward; opponents release negative poll data. Supporters of an initiative to allow liquor sales in big Oregon grocery chains have gotten the official nod to begin gathering signatures, and they plan to start as early as next week. Opponents of the change, meanwhile, released results of a statewide poll showing strong voter sentiment against changing the current state-run system of selling booze. The Oregonian

NJ: Ras Baraka Wins In Newark. Education Privatization Loses. On Tuesday I wrote that the mayoral election in Newark, New Jersey, was a referendum on “education reform,” aka education privatization. The election results that night had “reform” candidate Shavar Jeffries losing to Ras Baraka, a Newark high school principal who wants to improve the very damaged Newark school system, not dismantle and replace it. Tucson Weekly

MA: Charter school expansion bill expected to advance. Just more than a handful of mostly urban school districts would be impacted by a proposal to gradually expand charter school enrollment in Massachusetts in what the lead sponsor of the legislation described as a “very modest” increase.

LA: State Rep: Privatization crisis will hurt poor, uninsured. On May 5, the Center for Medicaid Services unequivocally rejected the Jindal administration’s hastily crafted financing plan for the privatization of numerous Louisiana hospitals. As a result, and as confirmed directly by me in a phone call with CMS, Louisiana’s citizens will lose up to $500 million in federal health care funding. Further, due to the Jindal administration’s irresponsible insistence on including nonexistent revenue to balance its budgets, the state is faced with budget deficits in upcoming years exceeding $2 billion. Most importantly, the poorest and most vulnerable of Louisiana’s citizens remain without meaningful access to health care. Opelousas Daily World