Tag Archives | privatization

Privitising social services: NZ’s looming neoliberal confidence scam

rosaluxemburg (CC BY-ND 2.0)

rosaluxemburg (CC BY-ND 2.0)

In the US, the hyenas of the right-wing are currently fighting for room around the carcass of neoliberal-capitalism, hoping to strip the last stringy-pieces of meat from the now decaying form. In a true old-fashioned gag, there are more GOP candidates for the presidency in 2016 than any other time previously.

Viewing this comedy from the distant comfort of New Zealand is strangely enjoyable and similar to the sick-making thrill of watching Fox news and its brand of explosive bigotry and conservatism. Both are like American candy – sickly-sweet and instantly regrettable, though very difficult to put down once started.

While it may be somewhat refreshing to stand back and admire the depths of ridiculousness prevalent in US politics, the joke ceases to be as funny when global levels of toxicity are factored in – the influence and saturation of US corporatocracy is now keenly and widely felt on a global scale and often awful in effect.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Chicago’s Austerity Mayor Might’ve Won, But A Progressive Movement Is Percolating

2015_4_9Garcia

Garcia giving his concession speech (photo by Aaron Cynic).

The race for Chicago mayor has wider implications than just how the nation’s third largest city will govern itself for the next four years. The city has long been a testing ground for disastrous “free market” reforms in education and home to many other privatization schemes, which only grew larger under Rahm Emanuel. While another four years with him as mayor could push this agenda forward, the recent electoral race has helped coalesce what could be a powerful movement of resistance.

Aaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

During the last four years in office, many have criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s imperial-like qualities. Between his “Mayor 1%” moniker, his style of legislating by press release along with a City Council that voted with him nearly 100 percent of the time, Emanuel garnered a reputation for running Chicago like a king, rather than a mayor.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Buchheit analyzes privatization at Common Dreams:

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.” 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don’t hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s, with the sense of wartime cooperation still in the minds of researchers and innovators, has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it’s “the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them.” An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. … Read the rest

Continue Reading

New Analysis Shatters Narrative of Charter School Success

A 2010 protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

A 2010 protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Public schools are outperforming charter schools in Minnesota, in some cases “dramatically,” according to a new analysis by the state’s Star-Tribune newspaper.

In addition, many charter schools fail to adequately support minority students, close examination of the data revealed.

Journalist Kim McGuire looked at 128 of the state’s 157 charter schools and found “that the gulf between the academic success of its white and minority students widened at nearly two-thirds of those schools last year. Slightly more than half of charter schools students were proficient in reading, dramatically worse than traditional public schools, where 72 percent were proficient.”

Between 2011 and 2014, McGuire reported, 20 charter schools failed to meet the state’s expectations for academic growth each year, “signaling that some of Minnesota’s most vulnerable students had stagnated academically.”

Charlene Briner, the Minnesota Department of Education’s chief of staff, told the newspaper that she was troubled by the information, “which runs counter to ‘the public narrative’ that charter schools are generally superior to public schools.”

“Minnesota is the birthplace of the charter school movement and a handful of schools have received national acclaim for their accomplishments, particularly when it comes to making strong academic gains with low-income students of color,” the Star-Tribune claims.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Sick of this market-driven world? You should be

Taken by Shmuel Spiegelman using a Canon 10D. Via Wikimedia Commons

Taken by Shmuel Spiegelman using a Canon 10D. Via Wikimedia Commons

An interesting read from The Guardian about neoliberalism and its erosion of human values within the market.

via The Guardian:

The self-serving con of neoliberalism is that it has eroded the human values the market was supposed to emancipate

To be at peace with a troubled world: this is not a reasonable aim. It can be achieved only through a disavowal of what surrounds you. To be at peace with yourself within a troubled world: that, by contrast, is an honourable aspiration. This column is for those who feel at odds with life. It calls on you not to be ashamed.

I was prompted to write it by a remarkable book, just published in English, by a Belgian professor of psychoanalysis, Paul Verhaeghe. What About Me? The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society is one of those books that, by making connections between apparently distinct phenomena, permits sudden new insights into what is happening to us and why.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading