Saturday, September 8, 2012

Private-Public Partnerships All Over Threaten Earth, Home of the 99%

Source: Kevin Gosztola: Charlotte during DNC on September 5, just after Bill Clinton's speech
It has been a discouraging week. I cried inside while the present day equivalent of good Germans who looked away as the Nazis took over their government shared pro-Obama videos. The “good American” thinking is that I must hate the GOP for its attacks on women's rights and environmental truth so, ipso facto, I must value the Democratic Party as much as they do! The irony of hijacking Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, classic tale of the struggle to survive in a society that has criminalized poverty, is lost on them. Putting a pretty face on the destruction of a sustainable future for the 99% is a powerful drug.

Such productions make no mention of: wars against Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. Or drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan most every week. Of the $2 billion a week cost for the public-private partnership currently occupying Afghanistan. Or of the fact that, on Obama's watch, military spending has grown from 51% to 57% of the federal discretionary budget. Or of the federal level coordination of the police state in evidence in Tampa, in Charlotte, in NYC, etc. Or of how poorly African-Americans have fared under Obama.
Private-public partnership is an awkward phrase for the type of government otherwise known as corporatism, and PPP is a term popping up everywhere these days. In Maine, taxpayers this year have seen public funds flow toward private education ventures with close ties to lawmakers, and to a feasibility study for a 2000 foot wide "corridor" through the wilderness that would include mining rights and be privately owned and operated. (A must-read on this subject: Lance Tapley's piece in the Portland Phoenix "15 reasons the East-West highway will never be built".)

The PPP also surfaced in the tweets from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) being held, with supreme irony, on Jeju Island in South Korea. That's the location of an epic struggle by fishing and farming villagers intent on protecting their heritage and coral reef coastline from the depredations of the Samsung Corporation. A deep water port to help the U.S. Navy patrol the South China Sea is entombing the coastline with concrete while the South Korean government attacks non-violent resisters and denies visas to their supporters from away.
The IUCN blocked the Gangjeong village group from having a booth at its “conservation”conference on their island while Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre tweeted:

#iucn2012 keynote speaker Rachel Kyte of the World Bank calls for placing nature-based solutions at the heart of progress

RT @worldbank: "We need to build public-private partnerships to invest in our natural wealth" - @rkyte365 at #IUCN2012

She might as well have tweeted about the need for corporations and the governments they operate to co-opt international bodies like the IUCN. Putting an attractive “liberal” face on economic exploitation and the police state it requires is a growth industry in the 21st century.

As my husband stood outside Bath Iron Works this week protesting the launch of yet another nuclear-capable battleship built in Maine – the kind that will soon be able to dock on strategically located Jeju Island – some of the workers assured him that building weapons of mass destruction for the U.S. Navy had been a good paycheck for thirty years.
Under Democratic administrations, and Republican administrations. As Maine closed schools, failed to repair its bridges and roads, and cut services to mentally retarded elderly people.

Thus the era of public-private partnerships shapes up with austerity for the 99% and record profits for the 1%, under the spell induced by the most sophisticated propaganda ever.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

You've scratched on a good point. Not just the public (who says that?) but the economists don't know much about economics, and so don't know deal with the idea of human freedom in practical terms--merely as a slogan.
Here's how I see it. Drop talk about monopoly (you've probably seen the graphs showing a monopoly's power to set price above the rational level and output below it) and go to the heart of legal understanding. The law is a repository of wisdom worked out over centuries, like the idea of civil rights, so that, when we do away with chunks of law, like the idea of our soldiers being supposed to take prisoners, we all feel the drop in the ambient wisdom. The law on big economic activities is to regulate them. If you act like a public function, you are regulated like one. Public functions are by definition monopolies.
Take schools. If you run a private school, you still have to educate to public standards. The obvious monopoly, which obviously belongs to the public, is not the classroom or the teacher, but the setting of educational standars. Weights and measures are set by the public. We don't want competing systems out there.
So if three car companies constitute eighty percent of US car manufacturing (just a guess), that tells us that, in the current economic and technological world, we're very close to having an analogue to railroads or telephones: the car companies should be regulated and, in return, guaranteed a profit. That's called the regulatory bargain for public utilities.
Can corruption enter into that bargain? Sure, why not, but the difference, like ever in law, is that it's done more openly and is judged by standards that are spelled out more carefully.
So, absolutely right, "public-private-partnership" is a contradiction in terms on purpose. Very suspicious sounding. Practically a scam in plain sight. Like "global war on terror".