The Public Good Newsfeed – December 1, 2016: The Perils of Privatization

By David Morris A selection of recent news stories with an ILSR insight into “The Public Good.”

Stories in this Newsfeed:
The Privatization of Everything | Privatizing Education | Privatizing the Oceans
Privatizing Municipal Services | A Resource Guide to Privatization

The outcome of the Presidential election will make the word “privatization” will become central to our political conversations. We should be mindful that the privatization movement did not start with Donald Trump, nor has it solely been a Republican initiative. For those wanting to familiarize themselves with the already pervasive nature of that movement and its problematic impact, we offer a few choice readings.

The Privatization of Everything

Talking Points Memo (TPM) has an excellent primer on privatization. The Hidden History of the Privatization of Everything consists of three essays by experts in the field.

Donald Cohen, founder and Executive Director of In the Public Interest, offers a sobering review of the rapid growth of privatization from an idea to a movement to dominance.

He notes:

Private prisons didn’t exist thirty years ago. Today, publicly traded, billion-dollar corporations are key players in prisons and immigrant detention. Privatized immigration facilities now house over two-thirds of all detained immigrants.
Twenty-five years ago charter schools did not exist. Today, nearly 3 million children attend charters, and large corporate chains and billionaires are funding the rapid growth of privatized, publicly funded charters.
Former defense contractors, IT corporations and publicly traded corporations are running welfare, food assistance, and other safety net systems in many states across the country.
Today the federal government employs more than three times as many contract workers as government workers,

Journalist David Dayen, reports on the true cost of private prisons:

“Actual housing of convicts in prisons and jails is only one part–perhaps the smallest part–of the overall industry revenue stream. Private companies seek to pull profits from the moment someone is suspected of a crime to the final day they meet with a parole officer. Private industry transports prisoners, operates prison bank accounts, sells prescription drugs, prepares inmate food, and manages health care, prison phone and computer time. And that’s just the start. The money comes from the taxpayer, in state and federal contracts, and the suspects, inmates, and parolees themselves, in fees and add-ons. Those caught in the web represent what marketers would call the ultimate “captive audience”: there is no way to shop around for a better deal.”

… private prison companies can prosper whether the incarceration rate expands or lowers, by controlling the other ends of the pipeline, from pre-trial supervision to post-prison re-entry. The greatest source of profits now comes from federal contracts to detain, transfer, and deport undocumented immigrants. The more toxic the immigration debate becomes, the more advantage for-profit corporations take.”

Journalist Erika Eichelberger describes how privatization circumscribes public control and actions.

“In 2006, the city leased four major parking garages to a Morgan Stanley-led firm for $563 million. In 2009, Morgan Stanley sued the city for threatening its profits by allowing a nearby building to open a public garage. Chicago Read the Original


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