Doom scrolling lately? It’s not hard to do, even if the results are hard to accept. While there are plenty of issues to be concerned about and work on, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful (and even Reasons to Be Cheerful). From this week’s Privatization Report, In the Public Interest’s scan of recent headlines, come a few bright spots to counteract the gloom and doom.

Happy scrolling.

DIRECT FROM THE IRS The new IRS direct tax filing pilot program is receiving great reviews. With 140,803 taxpayers successfully filing returns using Direct File, the program surpassed the Treasury’s goal of 100,000 users. “Direct File users claimed more than $90 million in refunds and saved an estimated $5.6 million in tax preparation fees on their federal returns alone.”

ITPI’s Executive Director Donald Cohen wrote about the tax prep industry’s campaign to undermine efforts to make tax filing easier and free in his book The Privatization of Everything, and again last summer when In the Public Interest joined the more than 200 organizations in the Coalition for Free and Fair Filing. In February of this year, he wrote about the pilot launching.

ACTION IN JACKSON Thanks to a federal judge, residents of Jackson, Mississippi, will have a say in how the city resolves its yearslong water crisis. Grist’s Lylla Younes provides an excellent and timely update on the Jackson water saga. “Earlier this month, a federal judge granted the advocates their request, making two community organizations, the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign and the People’s Advocacy Group, parties to an EPA lawsuit against the city of Jackson for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. A seat at the table of the legal proceedings, the advocates hope, will allow the city’s residents to have a say in rebuilding their infrastructure and also ward off privatization. The saga in Jackson reflects a wider problem affecting public utilities across the country, with cash-strapped local governments turning to corporations to make badly needed repairs to water treatment plants, distribution pipes, and storage systems, a course that often limits transparency and boxes locals out of the decision-making. ‘This isn’t a uniquely Jackson problem,’ said Brooke Floyd, co-director of the Jackson People’s Assembly at the People’s Advocacy Institute. ‘We need ways for all these cities that need infrastructure repairs to get clean water to their communities.’”

REVERSING THE TIDE IN NEW ORLEANS Is the school privatization industry losing its grip on its favorite Petri dish? The Times-Picayune reports that “New Orleans’ school board wants its old job back. For several years the Orleans Parish School Board’s main responsibility has been to keep watch over the city’s independently operated charter schools. But now the elected board is ready to reclaim its historic role: running schools of its own, starting with one this fall and continuing with more district-run schools in the future. The board hinted at its growing ambitions last month when it urged the superintendent to open a new school to replace a struggling charter school. But at a meeting on Tuesday the board went a step further, asking the superintendent to develop a long-term plan for putting even more schools under district management.”

NO LONGER CLAUSE FOR CONCERN The federal government has approved a rule “that will ban the vast majority of noncompete clauses by U.S. employers, which have long prevented workers from switching jobs or setting out on their own,” says the NY Daily News. “In doing so, the agency did its duty to protect American economic dynamism and opportunity. We hope that’s the clear conclusion of the courts that will now rule on lawsuits by corporate interests that strenuously support this anticompetitive practice as a way to keep their employees from seeking opportunities outside their own corporate walls.”

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