Archive for Privatization

Apr
25

Your water’s poisoned? Tellya what I’m gonna do…

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City leaders and a group of organizers here have been fighting state efforts to take over our city’s water system for several years. City of Asheville v State of North Carolina, et al. goes before the state Supreme Court next month. The originator of the bill (an ALEC board member before he lost his state House seat) insisted transferring control to a regional authority was not the first step towards privatization. You know, we just didn’t believe him. The water situation in Flint, Michigan is sure to come up in oral arguments on May 17.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) of Milwaukee is the Ranking Member of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee that oversees U.S. relations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. She is not too keen on water privatization either. Privatization opponents in Wisconsin recently fought off an effort led by Aqua America Inc. to privatize water there:

The legislation would legalize purchases of water utilities by out-of-state corporations and change existing law to make public referendums on such purchases optional instead of mandatory.

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Mar
05

Strip mining the human landscape

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350px-Chino_copper_mineDylan Ratigan’s August 2011 on-camera meltdown is as close as reality has ever come to Howard Beale’s Network rant remembered in Digby’s sidebar.

What made it a powerful moment was he was right:

Tens of trillions of dollars are being extracted from the United States of America. Democrats aren’t doing it, republicans aren’t doing it, an entire integrated system, banking, trade and taxation, created by both parties over a period of two decades is at work on our entire country right now.

Elias Isquith at Salon this morning interviews Les Leopold, Labor Institute executive director and president, about his new book “Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice.” Ratigan called what is happening “being extracted.” Leopold calls it “financial strip mining,” and a far cry from what free marketeers and neoliberals taught would happen from lower taxes and fewer regulations:
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Mar
01

A certain moral flexibility

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Nick Naylor (lobbyist for the Academy of Tobacco Studies): My job requires a certain… moral flexibility.

Thank You for Smoking (2005)

Martin Blank (contract killer): When I left, I joined the Army, and when I took the service exam, my psych profile fit a certain… “moral flexibility” would be the best way to describe it. I was loaned out to a CIA-sponsored program – it’s called “mechanical operations” – and we sort of found each other.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Perhaps it is a class thing. We already know the rich live by a different set of rules from the hoi polloi. One fascinating thing about moralizing by many conservatives is their flexibility about accepting people (among their tribe) who bend the rules and get away with it. If an opponent does it, that’s wrong. If they do it – say, waterboarding or carpet bombing – well, you can’t make an omelet, etc., etc. Beating the system or rigging the game in one’s favor is a sign of strength. Cleverness and guile are the marks of a leader.

So the latest from BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith should have no impact whatsoever on Donald Trump:

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Feb
08

We the People own it; they want it

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Even if it is nailed down, the Midas Cult will try to take it. Or privatize it where it sits. It’s never about serving the public. It’s always about the money. During Saturday’s Republican debate, they argued about eminent domain because in New England they haven’t forgotten the Kelo decision: eminent domain used to further private profits.

The #FlintWaterCrisis originated in Detroit in 2014, I believe, when Gov. Rick Snyder’s emergency manager proposed putting the publicly owned water and sewer systems either up for sale or transferring control of it to a for-profit company:

Orr said last week at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual policy conference that he’s in talks with at least two of the largest U.S. private companies that operate water systems and has taken bids from them to manage Detroit’s sprawling water and sewer system that serves more than 4 million people in southeast Michigan.

Messing with Flint’s water and poisoning residents came later. Elsewhere there were the parking meters, highways … hell, they’ll even buy a bridge in Manhattan and sell it back to us. As I wrote before that:
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Categories : Privatization
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Feb
04

Flint goes to Washington

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Photo ACLU Michigan

Photo ACLU Michigan

As some day it may happen that a scapegoat must be found, they’ve got a little list. The investigations into the poisoning of Flint, Michigan are only just beginning. The FBI is now involved:

WASHINGTON — Government officials tangled on Wednesday over who was to blame for the crisis in Flint, Michigan, that allowed lead-contaminated water to flow to thousands of residents at a combative congressional hearing that devolved into a partisan fight over witnesses and no-shows.

“A failure of epic proportions,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the first Capitol Hill hearing since the crisis in Flint emerged last year.

Flint’s former state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Earley, was a no show. He refused a federal subpoena claiming there was too short a notice for him to appear in Washington. The Detroit Free Press reports:

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Jan
10

Thom’s Road Still Tholls For Thee, NC

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Thom Tillis’ toll road deal on I-77 is still a headache for those he left behind when he went to Washington. From the Charlotte Observer:

Should it stay or should it go now? If it goes there will be trouble. If it stays it will be double.

The contract to build toll lanes on I-77 must have Charlotte’s City Council and the region’s transportation planning board feeling as tortured as the protagonist in that classic from The Clash.

The council is expected to vote Monday on the plan, and the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization would vote the following week. Unfortunately, the N.C. Department of Transportation and regional leaders have created such a deep morass that there is no good answer.

Cancelling the heads, we win, tails, you lose contract NC should not have signed will cost taxpayers a fortune. This cluster truck is the gift that keeps on giving. From last November 4:

Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and two town commissioners were booted from office in this week’s elections because of residents’ anger about the state’s plans to widen Interstate 77 with toll lanes, people on both sides agreed Wednesday.

Incumbent commissioner Danny Phillips, a toll opponent and the top vote-getter in the board race, said he believes the election “was a referendum on the toll issue.”

“The citizens wanted to have their voice heard, and they did it through the ballot box,” Phillips said. The incumbents who lost “got complacent and weren’t really listening to the citizens.”

Can’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Nov
02

“Privatization of the justice system”

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Just yesterday I was wondering what ever happened to “frivolous lawsuits” and the runaway juries Big Bidness and Republican lawmakers used to cite as reasons to push for tort reform. It seems Republicans couldn’t deliver. Big Bidness went to Plan B: circumventing the courts entirely. The New York Times brings us up to date:

Over the last 10 years, thousands of businesses across the country — from big corporations to storefront shops — have used arbitration to create an alternate system of justice. There, rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients, The Times found.

The change has been swift and virtually unnoticed, even though it has meant that tens of millions of Americans have lost a fundamental right: their day in court.

“This amounts to the whole-scale privatization of the justice system,” said Myriam Gilles, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “Americans are actively being deprived of their rights.”

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Jun
06

Wisconsin on everything

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Jack Russell terrier (Public Domain via Wikipedia)

The vigor with which our corporate overlords have sought to put the plebs back in their places and return the stars and planets to their spheres has been as stunning as it is pathetic (last dying moments of a cobra?). Still, you’ve got to hand it to them. Like a Jack Russell with a knotted rope, they don’t give up easily. What’s worse, they know most of the rest of us do. Just the way they like it.

In a plot twist that would make Rod Serling proud, conservatives have treated “The Road to Serfdom” as a cookbook for the re-medievalization of society ever since Ronald Reagan broke the aircraft controllers’ strike in 1981. It has been a race to the bottom (except for the top) ever since.

Mark LeVine observes for Al Jazeera, union membership is at a 100-year low in America. “In just the last two years, the percentage of unionized public employees dropped 2 points, just as union leaders feared and conservatives hoped.” Universities are next on the menu:

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Apr
22

Earth Day 2015 – Water

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Today, Earth Day 2015, President Obama visits Everglades National Park to talk about climate change and the threat it poses to the water ecology of south Florida. On the first Earth Day in 1970, few Americans had even heard of ecology.

NPR’s Melissa Block spoke with Evelyn Gaiser, an ecologist with the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program, about saltwater incursion into the Everglades. She’ll be reminding the president the Everglades is not just home to birds, snakes, and alligators:

BLOCK: And along with preserving biodiversity, preserving wild space and habitat, of course also you’re seeing a real threat to drinking water with what’s going on in the Everglades, right?

GAISER: That’s exactly right. So the people of Florida depend on that aquifer underneath the Everglades for their drinking water. And as we have insufficient freshwater moving into the Everglades, we see a depletion in the freshwater resources available to the growing population of South Florida.

On the Pacific coast, Californians struggle with an epic drought and reservoirs have all but dried up.

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Feb
22

Their American spirit is AWOL

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Something about Sunday mornings brings out the preacher in me. I wrote about this yesterday, but this morning I’m still fuming about misguided efforts by right-wing ideologues to abandon our system of public schools for whatever crazy reasons, or because freedom. Listen:

One hundred and sixty thousand rugged individuals didn’t suddenly decide to grab a gun off the mantle, don uniforms, build landing craft, and separately invade Normandy on June 6, 1944 because if big gummint did it, it would be un-American, add to the debt, and we don’t like France anyway.

There are things we do as a people, together, that make us US.

Educating our nation’s children together is one of those things. Support for universal public education in this country predates ratification of the United States Constitution. It’s built into the state constitutions and enabling legislation that brought new states into the Union all the way up to and including Hawaii, the 50th state.

I don’t know what country chest-thumping, would-be patriots who want to abolish public education think they want to live in, but it’s not the United States of America.

My father in-law law fought on the front lines in Europe during WWII. One of the things he said distinguished the American GI from the enemy is that when their tanks and trucks and jeeps broke down, the Germans would abandon their equipment on the field of battle and walk away. But the American boys had grown up tinkering with their cars, trucks and tractors. It was a point of pride for them, he told me, that when their gear broke down, they could fix it and get it running again with whatever they had at hand. Shoelaces. Rubber bands. “Duck” tape. And get back into the fight.

That’s the spirit that won the war. You don’t hear that spirit from public school abolitionists. Freedom, my ass.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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