Friday, April 29, 2011

Money Grubbing Pigs

Over the past month, I have shared with you numerous snippets from The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein as well as several articles and columns from a variety of alternative news sites. My motivation for hammering on this one issue is to try to help people understand what is afoot in this country as well as around the world.

The lockstep drive toward greater privatization of public assets has NOTHING to do with saving taxpayer money or the desire for greater efficiency. No, the sole impetus behind privatization is to funnel more and more public dollars into the hands of greedy Wall Street types and other SOBs. Corporate America is eying government as the next bubble to exploit.

Conservatives and even some so-called liberals are backing plans at the state level to sell off basic services to a whole host of corporate big wigs.

Mother Jones reports that many states are moving forward with plans to sell off all or part of the prison system.
In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich has proposed selling five prisons to private companies—a move that would bring in an estimated $200 million up front — while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal plans to sell three state prisons to private operators. In Florida, the GOP-controlled Legislature is making an even broader push, hammering out a budget bill that would require the state to privatize the prisons in South Florida, where one-fifth of the state's 100,000-plus inmates reside.

Likewise, Maine's new GOP governor, Paul Le Page, has vowed to bring private prisons to his state for the first time, backing a bill that would also allow Maine to house out-of-state prisoners. In Texas, where prison privatization began decades ago, Harris County is now deliberating a plan to privatize the state's largest jail. And in Minnesota, Republican state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require the state to solicit offers from private companies to manage the state's inmates...
In Louisiana, according to the TPMMuckraker, Governor Jindal is pushing a plan to privatize the state's public employees' health insurance program.
Critics of the privatization plan have asserted that the OGB's more than $500 million surplus would somehow be divided between the state and the purchaser in the event of a sale, and a new bill in the Louisiana legislature appears to override the law that prevents the money from being used by the state for "cash flow" purposes...
I am sure most of you know what is going on in Michigan with their new law that allows the state to take over cities and school districts in financial trouble. An unelected administrator is allowed to abrogate union contracts unilaterally and basically to dismantle the city council or school board and the citizens impacted have no recourse whatsoever.

It should surprise no one that the first city targeted is Benton Harbor and several of the other locales on the "unofficial" list share a common trait.
Benton Harbor's population is 92% African-American and deeply impoverished by the de-industrialization of the city and surrounding area. Whirlpool’s recent plant shutdown is the most recent, crushing blow as the corporation continues to expand significantly in low-wage plants in Mexico, despite taking $19 million in federal recovery funds. Benton Harbor is plagued by the lowest per capita income in Michigan ($8,965), with 42.6 percent of the population living below the poverty line, including a majority of kids under age 18.

Like a set of other overwhelmingly poor and black cities whose economic hearts have been torn out by de-industrialization — such as East St. Louis, Ill., Gary, Ind., Chester, Pa. — Benton Harbor‘s plight was largely ignored by the state legislature...
And there is even more! According to PR Watch,
This week, USA Today reported that "In a major victory for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana lawmakers today approved legislation that creates the nation's most sweeping system of taxpayer funding for private schools."

The Republican-controlled House passed the voucher program and a separate bill that will make opening charter schools easier by creating a pro-charter board that will approve charter schools. As of now, only the Indianapolis mayor, public universities and local school boards can open a charter school. No Senate vote has been made yet.

The Evansville Courier & Press states that the contentious bill caused Democrats to leave the state for five weeks in opposition.

"Most Democrats opposed the measure, saying it will deliver a blow to cash-strapped schools by spreading out the state's $6.3 billion in annual K-12 education funding. 'Every dollar that flows to the charter schools is going to flow away from the traditional public school corporations and make it harder for them to do their jobs,' said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington..."
If most Americans continue to take a ho-hum attitude to this multi-tiered assault, we may wake up one day and no longer recognize this country! We may find that the official name of our nation has been changed to the United States of Corporate America.

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