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Friday, November 28, 2014

The privatization ofeverything

ca-Cola lawyer) providing a leading
public sponsorship. SIBs are formed
when the government seeks to
Capitalism '" recognius no limits
progress toward a social §oal (such
to its own sel/expansion....
as. reduced-~er lIecidivism) by
- "What Every Environmental­
subcontracting the project to a non­
ist Needs to Know About Capital­
profit NGO, which in turn identifies
ism," by Fred Magdoff and John in Amherst in response to ballooning front-end service providers and so­
Bellamy Foster (2011) off-campus student housing.
licits profit-seeking private investors
[Alan Greenspan] ... spoke pas­
Even in partnership, privatization willing to partner their cash with
sionately about the miracles of the is a process of subversion leading
public funds.
market, the wonders brought by con­
not so much to the public good as
In theory, failed projects are
sumer choice. He also gave some to endless accumulation of private
absorbed by private investors while
examples: the Internet, computers, wealth.
any reduction in costs metastasiz­
information processing, lasers, sat­
Experience provides many histor­ es as investor profit. In pradice,
ellites, transistors. It's an interesting ical examples of how, vampire-like,
complex contract agreements end
list ftir these are textbook examples the private sector feeds off the public up as costly lagniappes for corporate
of creativity and production in the sector.
lawyers, subversion of union shops,
public sector.
Example one: The public partnet
and cherry picking of those projects
- Noam Chomsky, "Power in the develops most costly new technolo­
governments have already. efficiently
Global Arena," New Left Review, gy (such as the Internet, high-yield
refined, leaving the costliest aspects
July-August 1998 crops, space exploration and com­
of any project to the public.
puters) and then hands it all over
Like other public resource Nlra­
AMHERST - According to Claire
free to the corporations. "Naturally, sites (SIBs, private prisons, subcon­
Moser's piece for Climate Prog­
business is delighted with all of this: tracted war-making in the Middle
ress (Sept. 3), 13 candidates in the
the public pays the costs, assumes
East, and privatization of public
November elections advocated
the risks (this is 'socialism for the
education), for-profit dormitories
the seizure or sale of public lands
rich'), while profit and power are
(financed by a rent-c,harging private
(like our national parks) for drill­
privatized-that's actually-exist­
developer) have been proposed
ing, mining and logging. Known as
ing market theory," says Chomsky.
by UMass/Amherst's Town-Gown
"Bundy's Buddies," they endorsed
Socialized risk/privatized profit is the Steering Committee. Exploring
state efforts to privatize such lands real source of "corporate innova­
ways to reduce tensions created by
- a notorious recommendation of
tion." All of us are paying, for exam­ contrasting lifestyles in clashing
ple, an annual Lockheed-Martin tax. propinquity, spatial separation is
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
Nothing can be off-limits for
Example two: The private sec­
under consideration. This requires
tor partners only have eyes for
a "public-private partnership" in an
a system that cannot abide lim­
allegedly altruistic effort to ''reduce
its - including public lands. Both
those alliances with the public that
environmental and social justice
maximize endless capital accumula­ the impact of student rentals on
activists must be forewarned. Public tion -leaving society with the most Amherst neighborhoods" by building
resource-draining challenges to the for-profit dormitories on public lands
resources, in one form or another,
controlled by UMass.
are nearly always critically required' public good
Public lands are reserved for the
To illustrate via a provocative
when "no amount of profit" can ever
general welfare - not corporate
be enough.
issue, Leigh Phillips argues: "...
Let's consider how the endless ex­ Ebola is a problem that is not being welfare. For-profit dorms subject
student affordability and labor union
pansion of capitalism is expressed by solved because there is almost no .
privatizing public resources - other­ money to be made in solving it." "It's contracts to corporate priorities.
wise reserved for collective purposes an unprofitable disease" (Jackobin, . Such dorms remind us why we like
and quarantined from the endless
August 2014). Therefore, despite pub­ public police and fire departments,
accumulation of money capital.
licly funded development of suitable Social Security and public education,
We argue that the public good is
vaccines and drugs, pharmaceutical and land conservation. We urgently
need to explore long range, systemic,
served well, ecologically and socially, companies.-are unwilling to invest
huge sums to produce treatments
and fundamental change, not fixes
by limited or nonprofit and tax-sup­
ported stewardship of collective
for infectious maladies that are used that appear attractive in the heat of
resources. "Taxes are what we
only once in a person's lifetime, while the moment.
pay for civilized society," Supreme
chronic illnesses like diabetes and
Next month we consider private
Court Justice Holmes asserted. Let cancer are so much more profitable. development of off campus living in
Chris Maisano (Jack1;)bin, Fall
this serve as a warning against, for
Amherst center.
example, combining publicly funded 2014) describes the growing corpo­
Steve Randall and Larry Ely
assets with for-profit enterprises
rate interest if/. 'Social Impact Bonds write for the Pioneer Valley Relocal­
(SIBs), with Massachusetts under
ization Project. Contact them at:
through public/private partnership
schemes, such as proposed recently Gov. Deval Patriek (a former Co­


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