This week in privatization — they really do have a bridge to sell you

The privatization of public property is something that both Democratic and Republican public officials love to promote.

Republicans love it because they’re vultures, always feeding the poor (you, me and the rest of the “99%”) to the rich. Neoliberal Democrats — that is, the whole of the party leadership — love it because somehow “free markets” unfettered by government regulation means “freedom”.

Neoliberal Democrats also love it because they too are always feeding the poor (you, me and the rest of the “99%”) to the rich. See? The two parties do get along after all.

From our North Carolina activist friends at Scrutiny Hooligans, we get a good look at the amazing extent of the privatization movement, and believe me, it’s moving along quite nicely, thank you. First their intro (a decent piece of writing, in my estimation):

This Week In Privatization

You know the joke about the con man who tries to sell some sucker the Brooklyn Bridge? Of course you do. It’s an obvious con because everybody knows the Brooklyn Bridge is public property. Now listen up, pal, or the next joke may be on you.

Investors that failed to privatize Social Security under the Bush administration and who got badly burned in the crash of 2008 are looking to get their hands on public property at bargain prices. Even the Brooklyn Bridge is not out of the question.

Public private partnerships are a hot, new investment vehicle. PPPs are a way for getting public infrastructure — that you, your parents, and their parents’ parents paid for and maybe even built with their own hands — out of public hands and under the control of private investors who are more than happy to sell your own property back to you at a tidy profit. A turnpike here, an airport there, or your city’s water system.

Psst. Hey, bud. C’mere. I got this bridge in Manhattan…

Every word a true one.

And then the meat, a 39-item list of current national and local privatization and anti-privatization efforts, assembled by the good people at In The Public Interest. I don’t want to give you the whole thing; click here to read it for yourself.

But here’s a tease (my emphasis):

1) National: Aramark partners could cash in on $3 billion in IPO profits. Aramark, a leading food services privatizer in prisons and schools, is planning to go public in a share offering. The company has been accused of “cutting costs and boosting profits by skimping on meals.” …

3) National: Macquarie Group raises an initial $1.3 billion for a fund to invest in North American infrastructure projects. “Part of the money raised is expected to be invested in New York’s Goethals Bridge, which is being privatized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (…) Budget constraints are forcing public bodies in the US to attract more private capital into projects traditionally funded from government balance sheets.” Its MIP III fund is targeting about $2 billion. [Sub required]

Goethals Bridge (image via flickr)

Goethals Bridge, ready for sale (image via flickr)

4) National: USDA comes under fire for moving to privatize meat inspection in pork plants, while speeding up processing lines. Under an expanded pilot program, USDA safety inspectors would be replaced “with private inspectors employed by meat companies.”

7) California/Oregon/Washington: The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, a collaboration between the three states and British Columbia, releases draft recommendations for project standards on infrastructure “public private partnerships.” The Exchange, which has invited public comment, “said it’s seeking input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including investors, local government project proponents, labor, advisors, and contractors.” [Sub required; Infrastructure Project Certification—Proposed Principles and Framework] …

9) California: Newport Beach City Council votes 4-3 to proceed with outsourcing trash collection. … Councilman Selich says “‘I’m opposed to the outsourcing, make no bones about it. I think we’re elected to represent the people who voted us into office.’ In eight years as a Council member, he said, no issue has stirred residents like outsourcing trash collection has. ‘Wherever I go,’ he said. ‘They’re all opposed to it.’” …

On and on it goes, 39 items. Do read; it’s quite the list. And note the headline — This week in privatization. Next week will bring more, I’m sure.

Your neoliberal Democrats and Milton Friedman Republicans at work. Show this to the next person who tells you “our political system is broken.” It’s not broken at all — it’s just broken for us.

(By the way, if you failed to click the very first link in this piece, consider doing so. It’s Rick Perlstein at his Rahm-bashing best.)


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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