Tag Archives | privatization

On The Consumerist Order Of The New City

cityNew Left Project describes the reshaping of the meaning and rules of our cities:

The commercialisation of the urban landscape has resulted in the privatisation of public space. As manufacturing industries have diminished and the consumer and service economy has grown, the places we inhabit have radically changed. As city centres have become tributes to consumption, private interests have permeated these spaces. Although these places hold the semblance of being “public”, they are owned by corporate interests and are therefore under private control and not accountable to the public.

The quasi-public space of the commercial city centre is unwelcoming for a growing number of citizens. Non-consumers, such as the homeless, the unemployed, the poor, the young and the old are branded as ‘others’ to the hegemonic consumer order. The right to the city is increasingly a privilege for those with the material and cultural capital to consume. The quest for clean and sanitized space has meant that ‘out of place’ individuals who fail to match up to a highly circumscribed model of ‘consumer citizenship’ are hidden from view.

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The Rise Of The Privatized For-Profit Probation Industry

probationHuman Rights Watch reports on the prison-industrial complex creeping further outside of the prison walls:

Every year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

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The Mass Incarceration Telecommunications Industry

phonesFrom a Nation on the booming business of privatized prison profiteering:

The calls were expensive, more than a dollar per minute. In order to accept one, I had to set up a prepaid account with Global Tel* Link, or GTL, “The Next Generation of Correctional Technology.” If Tim called and my account was out of money, the automated voice would prompt me to replenish it via credit card, while he waited on the other line. “By accepting an inmate call, you acknowledge and agree that your conversation may be monitored and recorded,” the company advises.

For Tim’s relatives, this had been their reality for years. GTL makes more than $500 million a year exploiting families like his, who face the choice between paying exorbitant phone rates to keep in touch with incarcerated loved ones—up to $1.13 per minute—or simply giving up on regular phone calls. Like many other telecommunications companies that enjoy profitable monopolies on prison and jail contracts across the country, GTL wins its contracts by offering a kickback—or “commission”—to the prison or jail systems it serves.

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Disturbing Corporate Paramilitaries Appear In Wisconsin

paramilitariesTalking Points Memo on a mining company’s quelling protests using a paramilitary force rented from a real estate mogul:

There’s been a battle royale in Wisconsin over an effort to establish a big iron mining operation near Lake Superior, to be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Protests have been staged since the operation got started.

But people started to get freaked out over the weekend when Gogebic brought in what the Wisconsin State Journal calls “masked security toting semi-automatic rifles and wearing camouflaged uniforms.”

I started looking into the security company behind the paramilitaries, an outfit called Bulletproof Securities out of Scottsdale.

The Bulletproof website lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of.

Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.” The company’s website provides an extremely wide range of services and suggests it has a huge amount of equipment to provide Quick Reaction Force services “in ALL conditions.”

Anyway, if you look around the site, Bulletproof clearly has a pretty big arsenal and a reasonably sized paramilitary at the ready to help you.

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Inside Henry Ford’s Failed Planned-City Jungle Utopia

fordistanDamn Interesting on the forgotten history of Henry Ford’s surreal Fordlandia, a rubber-plantation-slash-corporate-city in the Amazon where workers would have American values stamped into them, and which was ultimately abandoned at a loss equivalent to $200 million today:

By the late 1920s, automobile tycoon Henry Ford’s hundreds of thousands of new cars needed millions of tires, which were very expensive to produce when buying raw materials from the established rubber lords. To that end, he established Fordlandia, a tiny piece of America which was transplanted into the Amazon rain forest for a single purpose: to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet.

In 1929, Ford purchased a 25,000 square kilometer tract of land along the Amazon river, and immediately began to develop the area.

Scores of Ford employees were relocated to the site, and an American-as-apple-pie community sprung up from what was once a jungle wilderness. It included a power plant, a hospital, a library, a golf course, and rows of white clapboard houses.

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Spain Privatizes the Sun: Issues Heavy Penalties for Collecting Sunlight

AngrysunEarth First! Newswire cleans up and considerably shortens govtslaves.info‘s partially comprehensible translation of an article at Diario Digital Nuestro País:

If you get caught collecting photons of sunlight for your own use you can drop a fine not exceeding 30 million.

So if you were thinking that the best option was just to have some solar panels that were down 80% in cost and have the opportunity to disconnect from the mains and your bill scam, you can forget about it.

With the terror of “destabilized” power consumption, sometime in 2010 someone has decided to privatize the sun …. yes you read that right: Spain, unlike the rest of Europe, levies a toll on electricity generated and injected to the line.

Committing the sacrilege of being energy independent can be very expensive, and the sun now is only for the privileged few and the power companies. The ”Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF ), which brings together some 300 companies representing 85% of the industry, ensures that these changes would be more expensive than resorting to conventional supply.

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Bain Capital Now Owns Majority Of Britain’s Blood Supply

blood supplyVia Alternet, a great metaphor for vampire capitalism:

Mitt Romney’s private equity company Bain Capital is in the news again, this time for buying the majority of United Kingdom’s entire blood plasma supply. The Department of Health has sold the state-owned Plasma Reources UK (PRUK) to Bain Capital for £230 million.

The deal it is raising concerns about the seemingly limitless opportunities for privatization. PRUK had been dedicated to using low contamination risk populations, and critics fear the privatization of blood plasma could prompt profit-incentivized shortcuts and a contamination of blood supply.

Former Health Minister Lord Owen wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year and urged him to stop the sale. “The world plasma supply line has been in the past contaminated and I fear it will almost certainly continue to be contaminated,” Owen wrote. “Is there no limit to what and how this coalition government will privatise?”

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Since 9/11 Private Contractors Have Made $385 Billion From Overseas Bases

baseworldVia TomDispatch on the staggering sum being passed from U.S. taxpayers to a handful of contracting corporations in the name of maintaining the Pentagon’s global “baseworld”:

Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history. With US troops gone from Iraq, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about 1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands.

The Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the US since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Department budget over the same period. Almost a third of the $385 billion has flowed into the coffers of just 10 top contractors, [with the largest amount going to] KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton.

Once upon a time, however, the military, not contractors, built the barracks, cleaned the clothes, and peeled the potatoes at these bases. This started to change during the Vietnam War, when Brown & Root, better known to critics as “Burn & Loot” (later KBR), began building major military installations in South Vietnam as part of a contractor consortium.

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