First, the Good News

1) National: In the Public Interest is committed to real time national, state and local level coverage of the privatization of education. Executive Director Donald Cohen provides a rundown. In the Public Interest has researched and written about vouchers, charters, and school support jobs for many years, including a number of times in the recent past. “A functioning democracy requires an educated population. Every effort to undermine public education also undermines democracy. That’s why fighting against the privatization of education has been among the top priorities of In the Public Interest from the beginning.”

2) National: The IRS’ new free Direct File pilot program is on the way. “Starting later this year, taxpayers in California, Arizona, Nevada and nine other states will have access to a new program from the IRS called Direct File. Unlike the free filing options the IRS provides through third parties or the free services from TurboTax and H&R Block, Direct File enables you to send sensitive financial information directly to the IRS—no middleman required. It’s also the first service from the agency itself that guides you through the process of filling out your return. And its chat feature can provide answers to basic tax questions in real time from IRS customer service representatives. There’s a catch, however. Although Direct File is available to California taxpayers regardless of how much they earn, it can be used only by people who earn income in limited types of ways. For example, Direct File is not for you if you have income from a business you own, subcontracting work or gig-economy jobs.”

3) National/Pennsylvania: Four Pittsburgh nonprofits have been awarded for outstanding work with a community impact. For example, the Lower Valley Community Food Bank. “The Lower Valley Community Food Bank distributes food twice a month to 200 families, or 750 individuals, in Springdale Township, Springdale Borough, Cheswick Borough, Harmar Township and Indiana Township. In operation since the 1980s—but struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic set in—the extra funding comes at the perfect time, said Jennifer Novich, the food bank’s board secretary. Food insecurity in the 10-square-mile area the food bank serves is increasing, she said, especially among school-age children and senior citizens. ‘‘‘We were very humbled to have even been (nominated), but to be one of the top four—and get the $15,000 donation—is just going to be incredible for our tiny food bank,’ Ms. Novich said. ‘‘‘We want to make sure that our clients are getting a good variety of food, have healthy choices and have enough food.’”

4) National/Michigan: SEIU Healthcare Michigan reports that “the NLRB just issued a series of charges against Trinity Health for its illegal anti-worker actions at the Trinity Grand Haven Hospital.” SEIU itemizes the violations and remedies:

“The NLRB issued a series of charges against Trinity Health for its illegal anti-worker actions at the Grand Haven Hospital, and has ordered the immediate end to the following activities:

  • Interrogation of Employees
  • Threatening employees for exercising their rights as workers
  • Bypassing the Union and direct dealing with union members
  • Surveillance of union workers
  • Making any unilateral changes

Trinity is ordered to immediately:

  • Recognize the workers union, SEIU, and begin mandatory bargaining for no less than 40 hours each month going forward.
  • Remove and rescind all illegal discriminatory actions, disciplines and terminations committed in its months of acting outside the law
  • Compensate workers for wages, income and other losses caused by Trinity’s attempts to ignore the law and crush the workers’ union.”

5) California: A coalition of community and environmental groups has formed Solano Together. “Visit their website to stay up-to-date on the fight and support their efforts,” says Jim Hightower. “The crassest example of this land grab is happening now in Solano County, California, a bucolic agricultural area just north of San Francisco. A gaggle of narcissistic Silicon Valley tech titans with maximum bank accounts and minimal ethics has arrogantly (and surreptitiously) been spending nearly a billion dollars in an investment hustle to buy out and pave over every farm in the county. Led by a former Wall Street huckster literally known as ‘Golden Boy,’ the titans pose as altruistic futurists intending to turn this rural county into a magical technetronic haven of urban affluence and sophistication. (…) Altruistic visionaries? In a note soliciting others to invest in this thuggish thievery, one of the billionaires bluntly touted the syndicate’s real motivation, gushing that the Solano land grab can be spectacularly profitable for investors.”

6) California: “Charter schools will be barred from hundreds of Los Angeles Unified District school campuses under a new policy that is among the most restrictive of its kind,” the Los Angeles Daily News reports. “The regulations prevent co-locations in low-performing schools, community schools that provide social services, and schools in the district’s Black Student Achievement Plan—immediately impacting about 21 charter schools—now co-located in those buildings—enrolling thousands of students who may need to move to new L.A. Unified campuses in the fall.” The charter school industry is threatening legal action.

7) National/Think Tanks: PowerSwitch Action has released a report on key struggles and victories in 2023. “PowerSwitch Action has grown with this vision in mind: we’ve welcomed a new affiliate, hired new team members, scaled up our resources to support campaigns, and woven powerful coalitions across the country. This increased strength has let our network level up our work this year.”

8) Kentucky: The Community Schools Initiative is improving public education. “The grant money will be split between 20 Kentucky school districts. Paducah Independent Schools and McCracken County Schools are two districts receiving $1.5 million each. The goal of the initiative is to convert public schools into community schools, or schools that ensure students receive health, social service, and learning opportunities to support student and family well-being. Julie Tennyson, a board member of The Prichard Committee, said community schools would contribute to student success. ‘The community schools program is a program that helps the school system fill in the holes in our community for families and to improve our communities so that our students have a larger life,’ Tennyson said. She also said community collaboration is necessary to reach this goal.”

9) Michigan: Underground Infrastructure reports that a second contractor has reached a $25 million settlement over its role in Flint’s lead-contaminated water scandal. “The class-action litigation agreement includes payments of $1,500 for individual minors, according to Boston-based Veolia North America. The company says the agreement will resolve claims made on behalf of more than 45,000 Flint residents. In July, the engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newman said in a court filing that a confidential deal was reached with residents in federal court. Like Veolia North America, Lockwood, Andrews & Newman had been accused of being partially responsible for the water crisis in the city about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.”

10) New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan (D) has unveiled a 50-year water action plan. “New Mexicans throughout the State need to take actions now to ensure we can have resilient water supplies in the future. The 50-Year Water Action Plan elements are guided by science and innovation to ensure that our diverse communities and economies will continue to thrive,’ said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Taking into consideration vital input from nations, tribes, pueblos, acequias, farmers, and other stakeholders, the 50-Year Water Action Plan focuses on expanding water conservation in cities and on farms, developing new water supplies and enhancing water quality protections.”

11) International/Argentina: Mass protests and legislative opposition force Argentina’s extremist president, Javier Milei, to scale back his brutal austerity and privatization plan, The Wall Street Journal reports. “Facing majority opposition in the lower house, and leftist activists protesting austerity measures outside, the government agreed to reduce the number of state-run companies that it would privatize, including oil company YPF and the national mint. The government had initially proposed privatizing 41 state firms, but reduced that to 27. It still plans to sell state carrier Aerolineas Argentinas and media company Telam.” [Sub required]


12) National: Test-centric reforms have done tremendous and lasting damage to education, says Nora De La Cour on Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider’s Have You Heard podcast. “Public schools are in the throes of multiple slow-moving crises: a teacher exodus, spiking student absenteeism and plunging literacy rates. Yet education reforms implemented as part of the Obama-era ‘theory of change’ have received little blame. Special guest Nora De La Cour, a former teacher who writes about education for Jacobin and other publications, says it’s long past time for an acknowledgment that test-centric reforms have drained the life from public schools. Such reforms have demoralized teachers and left students feeling like school has no purpose, argues De La Cour, and made public education much harder to defend against the right-wing push for private school vouchers and classical education.”

13) National: Veteran public education advocate Peter Greene of Curmudgucation says, “We’ve talked before about Donald Cohen and Alen Mikaelian’s book The Privatization of Everything, but it’s worth returning to in order to underline yet another point. One of the arguments often pushed to promote the idea of privatizing, of having government farm out a function to private operators, is that it will be a money saver. But time after time, that turns out not to be true. The challenge with public services is that there aren’t that many ways to get money out of them. Privatizers like the word ‘efficiency,’ but that too often translates into either pay less or get less. Schools are a fine example; if you want to make money running a school, there are only so many ways to do it. Pay people less. Reduce the number of people you pay. Reduce the services you offer.”

14) Arizona/Tennessee: Tennessee Holler says “in Arizona, universal vouchers exploded the budget and forced some districts to look at closing entire schools—as kids already in private schools take the coupons. Because why wouldn’t they? ‘School choice’ sounds good, but it leaves most kids behind.” In June a report by 12News said, “in Arizona, universal vouchers exploded the budget and forced some districts to look at closing entire schools — as kids already in private schools take the coupons. Because why wouldn’t they? ‘School choice’ sounds good, but it leaves most kids behind.” Arizona is ranked dead last in the country in education.

15) Indiana: The editorial board of the Anderson Herald Bulletin says charter schools require vigorous oversight. “Some districts, however, still choose an outside contractor for a charter. A year before Daleville granted a charter, the U.S. Department of Education received a memorandum from the Office of the U.S. Inspector General, which had seen an uptick in complaints that charter schools and state agencies were failing to provide adequate oversight needed to account for federal funds. A subsequent study by The Center for Popular Democracy & Integrity in Education recommended stronger oversight by suggesting in part:

  • Requiring charter school governing boards to be elected by their peers, with representation of parents, teachers and in the case of high schools, students. Other members of the governing board should be required to be residents of the school district.
  • Requiring disclosure of vendor contracts over $25,000 and prohibiting contracts to any company where a member of the charter school’s governing board has any personal interest.
  • Posting financial documents annually on the authorizer’s website for public review. Daleville schools now lists charter-related documents on its website with recommendations for effective virtual charters.

The center’s recommendations are good commonsense.”

16) North Carolina: The New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) Turnaround Task Force is looking at ways public schools can compete against charter and private schools. “Legislators have added $250 million over the next two budget years for the program, and over the next ten years, there could be anywhere from $1.9 to $4 billion of public money diverted to this fund. Because of this influx of funding for charter and private schools, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently declared 2024 ‘The Year of Public Schools.’ He said he’ll be visiting public schools throughout the year to show the ‘positive impact of a well-funded public education system on the state’s economy and communities’ while ‘spolight[ing] the dangers of underfunding the schools while pouring millions into an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies.’”

17) Ohio: The state’s private school voucher program has ballooned from 24,000 to 82,000 students—and counting—after its legislative expansion. “Public school advocates said the expanded vouchers are unconstitutional and will eventually destroy the public schools, since there are not unlimited funds for education and private school advocates have successfully lobbied lawmakers for more money.” Cleveland.com reports that “for instance, in late October, it had committed $239.8 million for 41,120 students whose applications had been approved at the time. That figure raised eyebrows because it suggested the state could go well over the $397.8 million the General Assembly had budgeted for vouchers this school year. Since then, the number of applications approved has more than doubled, but the state agency is reporting only how much it has paid out rather than its total commitments to date. Calculating that number is difficult without detailed data because the state awards scholarships based on a sliding income scale. “

18) South Dakota: Lawmakers may finally do something about their state’s 49 out of 50 ranking in teacher pay this coming legislative session. “The state Department of Education introduced a bill that would tie average teacher salaries to legislative increases in funding, and Sioux Falls Democratic Rep. Kameron Nelson introduced a bill that aimed to help school districts boost teacher pay by changing the way enrollment is counted in the state funding formula. Only Nelson’s bill has had a hearing so far this session, and the House Education Committee unanimously rejected it.” There’s also an “acountability7 bill,” but “because the accountability bill wouldn’t provide new revenue for school districts to improve teacher salaries, that would mean school districts would have to make budget adjustments to reach that target – potentially drastic cuts, said Rob Monson, executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota, which is supportive of Venhuizen’s bill, but opposes the accountability bill as introduced. That could include cutting benefits for teachers to improve salaries, cutting programs in schools, dipping into a district’s capital outlay fund (which is intended for costs such as construction expenses, not salary increases) or trying to opt out of state-imposed limits on property tax increases, which can be challenged and rejected by voters.”

19) Tennessee: Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s universal school voucher bill has been released. Chalkbeat Tennessee lists five takeaways:

  • No testing accountability
  • No language to prohibit discrimination
  • No guarantees for students with disabilities
  • More private schools could participate, but not from out of state
  • Funding for the new voucher program isn’t a sure thing

“Tennessee revenues have flattened since the 2023-24 fiscal year began last July, and financial experts have urged lawmakers to rein in spending. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are closely watching developments in Arizona, the first state to offer universal school choice. That state is struggling to cover the costs of the universal school voucher programapproved last year by its Republican-controlled legislature.”


20) National: Writing in Jacobin, Eric Peterson has taken a close look at the flawed incentives, power relations and inefficiencies built into the current public-private model for addressing the housing shortage and homelessness crisis. “From the passage of Joe Biden’s subsidy-laden infrastructure and climate legislation to calls from prominent liberals like Ezra Klein for a ‘supply-side progressivism,’ Democrats appear to have rediscovered a long-standing tradition of using state subsidies to incentivize private enterprise to achieve social policy goals. This approach entails funneling public funds to business with the goal of unleashing private investment in ways thought to serve the public interest. (…) Putting aside the record of this approach in actually increasing affordable housing, the idea that unlocking private investment is the solution to social ills has a long lineage. In recent years, a number of historians have examined liberals’ repeated resort to supply-side market reforms as the means of addressing social problems; their research helps us understand why this tradition has endured alongside the unrelenting growth of the inequality it seeks to address…

“The Left, then, should be wary of the revival of ‘supply-side liberalism’ and its YIMBY branch in particular, which promise to carry on this market-based, elite-centric approach. We should resist the narrative offered by those who blame government regulation for our housing crisis (rather than market failure), and instead argue for public action to realize a housing policy that prioritizes social utility over the profit motive. But the history of urban policy in the twentieth century suggests that such a program won’t be forthcoming unless labor or other movements of ordinary people (like tenants’ organizations, for example) can forge strong coalitions to articulate and push an alternative agenda. Those forces are likely the only ones that can stand up to capitalists’ pressures to design housing policy in their own interests.” Eric Peterson, Ph.D, is a labor organizer in San Francisco. He also edits Failure, an occasional publication focused on housing.

21) National: In “Everything Is for Sale: The Privatization of Your Public Lands,” Will Harlan denounces the fact that “nearly three-quarters of public lands today prioritize private extraction over protection of natural resources. Most of our public lands are being intensively and industrially plundered by private entities.” And it is getting worse. “Some lawmakers want to completely privatize our public lands system. The House of Representatives passed new rules that make it easier to transfer public lands out of federal ownership. The Inflation Reduction Act requires two million acres of public lands—an area the size of Yellowstone National Park—to be offered for oil and gas drilling each year. Our public lands are under assault. But here’s one way we can fight back. Last year, the Biden administration ordered an inventory of all mature and old-growth forests on federal lands. Now we need an executive rule protecting all of these mature and old-growth forests. It won’t save all of our public lands from private extraction, but it would be a big step toward protecting the remaining green-shaded areas on the map.”

22) National: How does one assess the site-level risk of climate change, as for instance when planning for infrastructure? State-level climate change projection resources can be of assistance, but how good are they?  The U.S. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has a useful tool to begin to unpack this.

“In recent years, incorporating climate change considerations has become an important focus of organizations’ resilience planning and risk assessment efforts, including United States federal agencies. This has led to an increasing demand for higher resolution and higher quality climate projection information that is easy to understand for non-expert users. In particular, there is a demand for information about how climate change may affect high-impact, low-frequency hazards that are central to risk assessments focused on infrastructure. While national-level resources like the National Climate Assessment provide information on climate impacts for different sectors and regions in the United States, more location-specific information is often required for site-level resilience planning. Here, we review the availability of state-level climate change resources in the United States that can inform site-level resilience planning. We discuss the types of resources available for different states, including some examples of regional and national resources that provide higher-resolution information for multiple states. Finally, we identify key policy and stakeholder drivers influencing the development of state-level climate resources.”

23) California: LAX’s “people mover” private activity bonds (PABs), a hybrid form of public-private finance, are at risk of falling further into junk territory, according to the Bond Buyer. Fitch just moved them into junk territory. “The $1.2 billion in PABs issued through the California Municipal Finance Authority for the project were downgraded to BB-plus from BBB-minus by Fitch Ratings on Jan. 19. The rating agency also has warned the bonds could go lower if airport officials don’t reach an agreement with the development team on the project’s schedule relief and compensation claims within the next few weeks. Fitch had placed the bonds on negative outlook in October. ‘We did note, if they don’t get schedule relief within a month from the Jan. 19 published date, it could go down further,’ said Anubhav Arora, a Fitch director. ‘But we will have to evaluate if there is further breaching of the longstop date. They are continuing to work on the resolution of claims.’” [Sub required]

24) California: UNITE HERE Local 11, AFSCME Local 3299, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and the Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) report that “Blackstone’s planned acquisition of the single-family rental company Tricon Residential will further exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and harm tenants and workers. (…) Blackstone initiated a wave of evictions in 2022, and in some cases filed to evict tenants who owed just one month’s rent. ACCE released a report earlier this year with the Private Equity Stakeholder Project showing that Blackstone had raised rents in some units in San Diego between 43% – 64% in two years. ‘Blackstone has a terrible track record for workers and tenants, failing to pay their workers living wages on the one hand and increasing rents with the other,’ said UNITE HERE Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen. ‘We urge investors and stakeholders to oppose Blackstone’s planned acquisition of Tricon unless there are protections in place for tenants and to demand Blackstone resolve fair contracts for their hotel workers.’”

25) California: A $6.4 billion mental health bond measure is gathering steam as the March 5 vote nears. “The Mental Health Services Act, approved by voters in 2004, imposes a 1% income tax on personal income over $1 million a year to fund mental health services. The proposition wouldn’t alter the tax, it just changes where part of the funding goes, and also reforms how mental health services are provided. It would divert 30% of the funding, or $1 billion a year, toward housing projects for mentally ill homeless people.” [Sub required]

26) Georgia: A plan for a privately-owned marine shipping terminal on the Savannah River is drawing resistance. “The Ports Authority’s stated reason for protesting development of a container terminal at the SeaPoint site is not concern over competition for business but the effect of SeaPoint-related rail and road traffic on the Savannah community. If built, cargo-carrying trucks and trains would have to travel through the densest parts of Savannah, including its bustling tourist district, to reach connecting interstates and rail lines west of the city. The Ports Authority’s pushback has already nixed one tentative deal to build a container terminal on the site. As plans for the ship berth begins, there remains uncertainty about what kind of user—a manufacturer, a bulk cargo trader, a logistics company or a container terminal operator—would be best for the site. Interest in the property is high, with the Savannah Economic Development Authority confirming that at least three suitors are considering the site. None of the prospects are in the container shipping business.” [Sub required]

27) Michigan: Development or land grab? Veteran researcher Russ Bellant reports. “In Mayor Mike Duggan’s campaign for legislation that he says will cut residential property taxes in Detroit and stimulate economic growth, he is stalled. His legislation, called the Land Value Tax plan (LVT), proposes to split property taxes into two rates, one for land and one for structures on the land. While he touts its benefits as a development tool, others see it as a land grab that will not fulfill its promises.”

28) Virginia: A planned project to move the Washington Wizards and Capitals to a new facility in Alexandria, which developers and some politicos say won’t cost taxpayers money and cut into severely stretched state and municipal budgets, looks set to soak up more public money. “But some state legislators such as Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax, the chair of the House Transportation Committee, have questioned whether Virginia should be responsible for the millions in proposed transportation investments that would be needed for the private company to develop the arena. ‘The state does have a function of funding our infrastructure projects, but if we are enhancing infrastructure for a private company’s development, then I don’t believe that needs to be 100% the role of the commonwealth,’ said Delaney. ‘Unless we’re really able to see a very soundly projected return on that investment, then that cost would, at a minimum, need to be shared.’”

Public Services

29) National/Wisconsin: The federal government’s privatization of helium is raising supply chain concerns. “Supply chain issues have been at the heart of debates and lobbying efforts around the helium supply, especially when it comes to M.R.I.s. Phil Kornbluth, a consultant in the helium industry, said the industry had faced ‘nine years of shortages since 2006.’ The Compressed Gas Association, a trade group representing industries that rely on helium, urged the White House in January to delay privatization because of what they called a possible ‘supply chain crisis’ that could disrupt the availability of helium, forcing companies to find substitute providers. (…) ‘From computer chips to medical imaging to the energy sector, helium is vital,’ he said. ‘This poorly structured and ill-timed sale would make lifesaving M.R.I.s less accessible, the chips that connect everything from computers to cars to airplanes less available and would have an immediate impact on America’s national security.’”

30) National: The Associated Press conducted an investigation into how U.S. prison labor supports many popular food brands. AP “found goods linked to U.S. prisoners wind up in the supply chains of a dizzying array of products from Frosted Flakes cereal and Ball Park hot dogs to Gold Medal flour and Coca-Cola. They are on the shelves of most supermarkets, including Kroger, Target, Aldi and Whole Foods. (…) The prisoners who help produce these goods are disproportionately people of color. Some are sentenced to hard labor and forced to work – or face punishment – and are sometimes paid pennies an hour or nothing at all. They are often excluded from protections guaranteed to almost all other full-time workers, even when they are seriously injured or killed on the job. And it can be almost impossible for them to sue. And it’s all legal, dating back largely to labor demands as the South struggled to rebuild its shattered economy after the Civil War. In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawed slavery and involuntary labor– except as punishment for a crime. That clause is being challenged on the federal level, and efforts to remove similar language from state constitutions are expected to reach the ballot in about a dozen states this year.”

31) National: The Private Equity Stakeholder Project and Stateline are shining a light on private equity’s growing footprint in home health care. “‘We leave a lot to the whims of the market and allow private players to dictate access to and quality of health care, and the case of Help at Home is a great example of that,’ said Mary Bugbee, senior research and campaign coordinator for health care at the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a research and advocacy group. ‘At the end of the day it’s about money, and if we don’t have guardrails in our policies to prevent these pullouts, they’re going to keep happening.’ Private equity firms pool investments from pension funds, endowments, sovereign wealth funds and wealthy individuals to buy controlling stakes in companies. They’ve drawn increasing legislative scrutiny and public outrage as they’ve grown their footprint in U.S. health care companies.”

32) California: How bad is Tesla’s hazardous waste problem in California? How is it affecting the public interest? “No less than 25 counties sued Tesla this week for allegedly illegally disposing of hazardous waste. Within a couple days, the Elon Musk-led company agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle the suit that says the company ‘intentionally’ and ‘negligently’ disposed of materials that should have been handled with care. (…) Other automakers have terrible track records with hazardous waste. GM agreed to pay a $773 million settlement in 2010 with the US, 14 states, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe over “environmental liabilities” including hazardous waste at its properties. In 2022, New Jersey sued Ford for dumping toxic paint sludge and contaminating “hundreds of acres of soil, water, wetlands” and state-recognized tribal lands of the Ramapough Lenape Nation.”

33) California: How much of privatization’s alleged “efficiency” is due to union busting? Teamsters in Orange won a $293,262.73 settlement against Republic Services for giving more than half of its municipal waste business to non-union companies that charge less, the OC Register reports. “‘This settlement sends a strong message to Republic and other greedy corporations that when you violate a Teamster contract, we will fight back and we will win,’ said [Eric Jimenez, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 952]. ‘‘‘Republic has nine months to get in compliance, or they’ll end up in court. You can take that all the way to the bank.’ Jimenez said Republic’s violation of its collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters was noted early on. ‘We started investigating this over a year and a half ago,’ he said. ‘We spoke with the company, and they promised they would fix it, but that didn’t happen. Then we went through the grievance process, which led to arbitration and the settlement about a week and a half ago.’ Chuck Stiles, director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division, said the settlement puts Republic on notice.”

34) International/India: The Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a national level trade union in India with over 6 million members, “has criticized the interim budget presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as a collection of falsehoods and a desperate push towards privatization. Against this backdrop, CITU has urged its affiliated unions and members to ensure the success of the nationwide mass mobilizations scheduled for February 16, including industrial/sectoral strikes and the Grameen Bundh call of Sanyukth Kisan Morcha and Joint CTUs.”

35) International/United Kingdom: “If there was actually any evidence that the private sector improved the NHS they’d have found it by now, they’ve been trying for 40 years,” says Caroline J. Molloy. “I don’t know how many times I have to say this before Wes Streeting starts listening, but there is no magic privatisation fairy dust, profits are turned by cutting corners, and by cherry picking patients, and healthcare is no place for profit”

All the Rest

36) National: Somewhat ironically, Military.com reported on the day before Groundhog Day that the Army is considering privatized housing as a solution to its housing problems. We have, of course, been there before, and in fact, are still there. So what’s supposed to work this time? A Tenant Bill of Rights. Good luck with that.

37) National: Can a mad private billionaire make a nuclear weapon? “‘We worked out what a private organization would do if it wanted to build and sell nuclear weapons,’ Lukasik told me. ‘‘‘It turned out to be a fairly profitable business.’ Intrigued, I asked if he would share a copy. A few days later Lukasik, whom I had known for two decades, sent me all four volumes of the study, which was completed in 2013. The report laid out in exquisite detail, including staffing levels and cash flow projections, how such an enterprise could operate. It would take as little as a billion dollars’ investment and five years to produce the first bomb, the study concluded.” [Sub required]

38) International/Canada: Indigo Books and Music, Canada’s leading book and lifestyle retailer, has received a nonbinding, unsolicited corporate privatization proposal. The proposal, according to one outlet, “would allow the company to get back on track with less scrutiny and more flexibility than if it remained public, experts say.”

39) Think Tanks: “Businesses are often their own worst enemies yet wonder why they are regulated,” says prominent legal scholar Neil Buchanan. “I am more than willing to defend government regulation of business, but I do so only because the alternative is worse. That is, it would be great to live in a world in which regulation were entirely unnecessary. After all, regulating businesses’ activities is neither fun nor easy.  It requires setting up processes that are fair and thorough, promulgating rules that are informed by expertise (which is often expensive to acquire and apply), and it creates an adversarial relationship that is obviously worse than an atmosphere of cooperation and positive back-and-forth communication—or what is sometimes called enlightened self-interest. This is necessary to state up front because the people who think of themselves as ‘pro-business’—but who are in fact ultimately bad for business—have conjured up a story in which governments are positively eager to impose rules on businesses, apparently due to some combination of spite and jealousy.”

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