- Texas residents fight to get their library back
- Iowa school vouchers: public money, no accountability
- The People Have the (Electric) Power; Wall Street wants it back
First, the Good News…
1) National: President Biden has nominated veteran progressive economist Jared Bernstein to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). “Bernstein, who played in jazz bands and worked as a social worker in New York City before getting a doctorate, has long supported progressive economic policy. He served in former President Bill Clinton’s Labor Department and then as Biden’s chief economist when Biden was vice president. At the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington think tank, he wrote and testified to Congress on the shrinking U.S. middle class, a bedrock Biden theme. Bernstein’s varied government experience prepares him for implementing trillions of dollars of spending on infrastructure, manufacturing and green tax credits passed in three signature bills last year, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said. ‘He has a terrific understanding of the nuts and bolts of all that,’ said Reich, who previously worked with Bernstein.”
2) National: The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing rules governing outside contractors that colleges and universities use to help run online programs. “OPMs have faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from congressionalDemocrats and consumer groups, which have criticized the Education Department’s oversight of the industry. Last year, the Government Accountability Office reviewed the companies and urged more scrutiny from the Education Department, finding that the agency didn’t have enough information to gauge the scale or legality of the companies’ agreements with institutions.”
3) National/International: A new book is creating quite a stir in the U.K. about the relationship between government and private consultancies. In The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies, Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington argue that we need to draw a boundary between state and private activity—and rebuild public sector capability.
“In the end the finger is pointed not at consultancies at all but rather at successive UK governments,” writes Cambridge University Prof. Diane Coyle in a review in The Financial Times. “For what the authors—a prominent academic economist famous for advocating state-led ‘missions’ or ‘moonshots’ and a PhD student—recommend is strengthening the civil service, rebuilding internal capacity within government, improving the process of contracting and evaluation of outsourced outcomes, and requiring consultancies to disclose conflicts of interest when they bid for public sector work. (…) The book is a polemic, blaming the failures of outsourcing, IT included, on incompetence—or worse—on the part of the consultancies. It principally has in its sights the three big strategic consultancies (Bain, BCG and McKinsey) and the four big accountancy firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC). It acknowledges that there is a place for some consultants with specialist knowledge, while also taking a swipe at some smaller firms en passant.” [Sub required]
4) National: The Public Policy and Advocacy Office of the American Library Association supports the efforts of new and veteran advocates working to strengthen communities through libraries of all types. Facing threats to funding, position reduction, adverse state or local legislation? Looking for strategy assistance, training, or want to launch an advocacy campaign? Contact ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, firstname.lastname@example.org.
5) National: The Federal Bureau of Prisons is closing its deadliest unit over violence and abuse. “Well, we found that Thomson [in Illinois], which is the newest federal prison, had quickly become, as you said, one of the deadliest. Five prisoners killed, two suicides in just two years. And by the way, there was another death just this month. (…) And our reporting focused on the cause of this violence, which was a culture of abuse by staff that the Bureau of Prisons says is the reason that it’s now shutting down this unit. And this is reporting I did with Christie Thompson of The Marshall Project. A key moment to our reporting came when a prisoner named Demetrius Hill sent us a note that he’d witnessed one prisoner attacking and killing another.”
6) New York: The Brooklyn Public Library’s program to put banned books in the hands of students across the country who live in repressive states is going strong. “Brooklyn Public Library is adding our voice to those fighting for the rights of teens nationwide to read what they like, discover themselves, and form their own opinions. Inspired by the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement, BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative is a response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves. The American Library Association reported 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. This represents the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling these lists 20 years ago. Most targeted books were for a teen audience and were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons. Across the country, teens are facing book bans, censorship and political challenges in their local school and public libraries. Here are just some of the ways young adults can get support from BPL.”
7) Idaho: The state legislature is considering a bill to protect renters. “The thing I like about this piece of legislation is not only does it provide transparency for consumers, it also forces everybody to gather the information they need so a family can really look at what their options are and what they can afford and they can rely on this disclosure and say ‘okay I can make some really good decisions here’,” Ruchti said.
8) Texas: After being blindsided by the town administration which privatized their library, Huntsville residents have regrouped and formed an organization, Public First, to fight back and reclaim their town’s public goods and public spaces. About the library.
WHO WE ARE
We are a diverse group of Huntsville Citizens who have come together to do the following:
- Educate the Public about the Library and its services
- Stop and educate everyone about Book Bans and Censorship
- Educate the Public about the issues facing the library
- Shine a light on the fact that the City Council NO LONGER is representing the citizens of Huntsville instead they are representing their own beliefs.
- Being a voice that tells the story that individuals who work at the library or city can’t tell.
9) International: Skeptical that insourcing public services back into the public sector lacks a successful track record? How about a 75-year record of success? “On August 7, 1947, the company was finally acquired by the city’s civic body which was then known as Bombay Municipal Corporation. BEST in two centuries since it’s been around has rebranded itself and evolved. As it marks 75th year of municipalisation, let’s take a look at its history and evolution. (…) Since then, it’s been known as Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport. The bus transport service by 2019 had almost lost its charm though. However, revision of fares, increased services and introduction of air-conditioned buses on wet lease led to increase of passengers which proved beneficial for them. Although the corporation is still not making profits, it has been able to provide the commuters with increasingly better efforts.”
10) National: Jack Schneider and Jennifer C. Berkshire, writing in The Nation, report on how the privatization of public schools is redistributing money upward toward the rich and soaking working families. “The assault on public education currently unfolding in state legislatures across the United States stands to annually transfer tens of billions of dollars from public treasuries to the bank accounts of upper-income families. Those dollars, which otherwise would have gone to public schools, will instead reimburse parents currently paying private school tuition. It’s a reverse Robin Hood scheme that Americans would hate if they fully understood what was going on.”
11) Arizona: Writing in The Texas Observer, Josephine Lee details the damage the state voucher program is doing to disabled students. “What started in Arizona in 2011 as a $2.5 million state voucher program for students with special needs has now ballooned to a universal voucher program for all of the state’s students, public or private. ‘The state said the voucher was for kids with disabilities, but it was just a way in to open the door,’ Lang said. ‘Every single year since the state got the ESA, they just kept expanding it to more and more people, and now, it’s for everybody. We’re just hoping kids with disabilities aren’t going to have nothing left for them.”
12) Florida: “They waited for him outside his classroom. They wanted to investigate his teaching on racial justice for ‘indoctrination.’ Now he may lose his job at @PBAUniversity. This is how the anti-CRT/anti-woke crusade undermines education.” @JemarTisby reports. With Florida going backwards, civil rights leaders are reviving the strategies of the past. “Jim Crow laws were outlawed in 1964, with the signing of the Civil Rights Act and the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act. But the intense and sustained backlash against Reconstruction that lasted nearly a century ‘was a period of unrivaled racial terrorism and your rights were determined by the state you were in,’ [Jonathan Feingold, a history professor and expert on anti-discrimination law at Boston University] said. ‘We see the same thing happening now with this governor and his attack on things that are Black,’ said Frazier, the Jacksonville activist. Feingold suggests that DeSantis is trying to wrap together the public’s frustration with racial divisions when he uses the term ‘woke.’” [Sub required]
Parents and students have also joined the fight to defend academic freedom and democracy, The Tampa Bay Times reports. “Taylor Trautwein sat in the crowded auditorium where the Pinellas County School Board met Tuesday, reading Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. The Palm Harbor University High junior said she was reading the book, which district officials banned from her AP literature course and all high school libraries, in part to demonstrate her opposition to censorship. ‘When you can’t read about things, you can’t learn them,’ said Trautwein, who came to the board meeting with dozens of other students, teachers, parents, and other residents who opposed the book ban announced in January. Speaker by speaker, they argued that the district should not have removed the book based on the complaint of one parent without discussing the implications publicly. They argued that the book is literature, and that it plays an important role in understanding uncomfortable truths.” [Sub required].
13) Florida: Veteran state Senate leader and DeSantis sidekick Richard Corcoran, who has led the school privatization crusade in Florida for many years, is cashing in with a whopping salary. Corcoran has been hired as Interim President at New College, a progressive school that DeSantis is apparently trying to turn into a Dominionist education camp like Hillsdale College. Corcoran, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University, was a longtime member of the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council, which developed model legislation on school privatization that Corcoran pushed in Florida (including the Parent Trigger Act and Great Teachers and Leaders Act). See this report on Corcoran’s attendance at the Florida ALEC delegation’s dinner at the New Orleans ALEC convention in 2011, along with Dennis Baxley (p. 12), a backer of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay Act.” Corcoran was once Marco Rubio’s chief of staff. In 2019 Corcoran suggested that the state take over struggling public schools, which if pursued now would raise troubling questions in the light of DeSantis ideological crusade against diversity in education.
14) Iowa: State Auditor Rob Sand, asked about what the new school voucher program will mean for taxpayers, says, “Open season on private entities spending your tax dollars with no oversight… So there’s rules on what parents can spend the money on. And parents can be kicked out of the program or charged criminally if they break those rules. But if a private scho0ol after they’re paid that money wants to–I don’t know–take the principal to Europe for a vacation at 5-star hotels, with tax dollars, they can do it under this legislation. And not only can they do it, there would be very limited ability for us to even find out. Because despite the fact that they have allowed now private schools to access public money, there’s no public meetings, no public records, there’s no annual audit requirement that all public schools have to deal with. And so the ability to have any oversight or even know what’s happening with these tax dollars is very limited.” But of course, we’re supposed to believe it’s about choice and innovation.
15) New York: Legislators and parents spoke out against Gov. Hochul’s attempt to raise the cap on the number of charter schools permitted in the state. “Stories about this very reckless and damaging proposal by the Governor, which seems to have gone over with the Legislature like a lead balloon, were published in the NY Times, Chalkbeat, and NY Post, among others. In Gothamist, I [Leonie Haimson—ed.}was quoted saying if the cap was raised, it could prevent any chance that will be enough space in many schools to reduce class size. ” [Watch the press conference; video, about 6 minutes].
16) New York: The New York Times reports that “auditors found that two board members of a Hasidic public school district voted to use tens of millions of tax dollars to lease a building from a private religious organization they also helped run. (…) Rather than pay for new construction, as state auditors said it should have done, the Kiryas Joel district has leased even more space from the U.T.A., which controls more than $325 million in assets, and an affiliate. It has also paid the U.T.A. and its affiliates for the use of classroom and parking lot space and a swimming pool. In addition, the district has used money from federal stimulus funding it received during the coronavirus pandemic to make millions of dollars in repairs to buildings owned by the U.T.A. and an affiliated nonprofit.”
17) Texas: Here’s a disturbing report about an educational nightmare. Mimi Swartz has written a blockbuster, deep-dive report for The Texas Monthly on the campaign to sabotage Texas’ public schools. The bottom line: public education is not winning. “Day’s is the grief not of a sore loser but of someone who understands the larger consequences of what can appear to be, in the greater scheme of things, an almost insignificant defeat. One loss of a school board seat in a small town doesn’t seem like much—until that scene is repeated over and over, in towns and cities all across Texas.”
18) National/Mississippi: Hadas Their, writing in The Nation, looks at the big picture on Jackson, Mississippi’s water and infrastructure crisis. “Declining federal funding has left the water infrastructure in Mississippi’s capital at the mercy of conservative state politicians. (…) The disproportionate effects of climate change and national disinvestment highlight an important point: While the water infrastructure may be deteriorating in cities across the country, not all cities fare the same. Jackson suffers more because it has been left to the mercy of conservative leadership in the state of Mississippi. (…) According to Frank Figgers, a third-generation Jacksonian and a veteran of the civil rights movement, this recalls the late 19th century, when the white leaders of Mississippi claimed that Reconstruction failed because Black people were “inept, irresponsible, and incapable of governing.” The reality, of course, is that the forces of white supremacy violently overthrew Black political gains through intimidation, murder, voter suppression, and driving formerly enslaved people from their homes.”
19) National: Kari Lydersen, a Chicago-based journalist, author and assistant professor at Northwestern University, covers the growing calls to taking the nation’s railways into public ownership. “On Oct. 5, 2022, RWU adopted a resolution calling for public ownership of railroad infrastructure, which is operated for the public benefit. (…) Meanwhile, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) recently also issued a strident call for public ownership of railroads to protect the economy, workers, frontline communities, and the environment. ‘We demand that Congress immediately begin a process of bringing our nation’s railroads under public ownership,’ reads the statementfrom the UE general executive board. The union, which represents electrical workers and other sectors, argues that the major railroad companies—like electric utilities—are ‘natural monopolies,’ and have an ‘endless thirst for profit.’ The union argues that nationalization is necessary both to protect workers and to fight climate change and railroad-related pollution that disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income communities.”
20) National: Public lands have long been disposed to fossil fuel companies. Now, the lands are being offered to solar companies. Where does the public interest lie, and who makes the decisions? “As the nation looks to transition to more forms of renewable energy, the country’s millions of acres of public lands could be key, drawing concerns over how local habitats could be impacted. (…) ‘One of the most challenging issues that those of us in some form of conservation are facing is that we are finding ourselves often on the opposite side of these battles about (renewable) energy projects,’ said David Robinson, the director of conservation advocacy at the Tucson Audubon Society.”
21) National: Well it seems that your federal tax dollars for FEMA are meant for covering property, not human beings, who apparently can’t experience emergencies. Who knew? “U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and other officials have pushed the governor to declare a disaster in East Palestine to open up resources from the federal government. But DeWine said the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to tell him that Ohio doesn’t qualify for their assistance, which is usually reserved for disasters that cause significant property damage. The governor filed a document with the agency Friday to “preserve our rights” for help if the state is eligible down the road. Ohio’s congressional delegation sent a letter to FEMA Thursday asking why East Palestine doesn’t qualify for assistance. In the meantime, DeWine said he doesn’t want to give people the wrong impression by declaring a disaster.”
22) National/Texas: Grist, the Houston Chronicle and Beaumont Enterprise have teamed up to produce a hard-nosed in-depth report on how a Koch-owned chemical plant in Texas gamed the Clean Air Act. “The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, had installed an air monitor near the plant a few months earlier and was allowing Oxbow to capture nearly real-time data. The data was technically available to the public on request, but Oxbow was the only company in the state to have sought it—and it used the information to its advantage. Every time the wind blew in the direction of the monitor and the readings ticked upward, Holtham and other Oxbow employees were alerted. Then they improvised ways to decrease the brownish-yellow sulfurous plume spilling out of the smokestacks, stopping the company from running afoul of the law.”
23) Florida: The Jacksonville utility privatization scandal keeps giving headline writers more fodder. The indicted former JEA execs are now fighting the law firm involved in the privatization efforts. “Defense lawyers for JEA’s former CEO and CFO asked U.S. District Judge Brian Davis this week to consider beginning contempt proceedings against a law firm that played a major role in shaping the failed campaign to privatize Jacksonville’s electric, water and sewer utility. Former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and CFO Ryan Wannemacher claim New York-based Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has refused to turn over potential evidence that could be helpful to the two men as they prepare to defend themselves against federal wire fraud and conspiracy charges. Pillsbury billed JEA for millions of dollars in work on the botched sale effort in 2019, yet there has been little public scrutiny of the role the firm played.”
24) Louisiana: Controversy has broken out over who should operate Baton Rouge’s sewage system. “After overflows that put human waste in the streets and federal oversight that caused residents’ sewer bills to increase for years, East Baton Rouge Parish is spending $11.4 million to hire a new contractor to run its two sewage plants. Operations Management International Inc., a Colorado-based company, will fill the 43 vacant positions out of the plants’ total 86 jobs under a 10-year contract. Parish officials hope the increased staffing will help Baton Rouge emerge from a 1988 consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency over violations of the Clean Water Act. But the decision is drawing criticism from sewage system workers and some council members over how it will affect existing employees.”
25) New York: After a generation’s-worth of disastrous privatized power generation forced citizens and the state to bring the Long Island Power Authority back into the public sector, Wall Street wants it back. But the public, having gone through a tough battle to bring the utility back into the public sector, is pushing back. Newsday reports that “skeptics of the plan were quick to note that LIPA had been investor-owned once before — by the Long Island Lighting Co., which also had been under PSC review—and the results had been disastrous, including the assumption of billions of debt for the mothballed Shoreham nuclear power plant, among other problems. Tom Falcone, LIPA’s current chief executive, at a board meeting Wednesday likened the Lazard plan to refinancing a cash-out mortgage with an interest rate three times higher than the original. Lazard, Falcone said, ‘overstates the benefits and significantly understates the cost of privatization.’ Another observer agreed. ‘If we go back to the days of LILCO, we’re going have all the same issues LILCO had,’ said Arthur Abbate, a former utility director who started at LILCO in 1975 and stayed with iterations of the company for 37 years. ‘All you’re going to do is change the name and add the profit motive.’” [Sub required]
26) New York: The state Senate and Gov. Hochul (D) are at loggerheads over how much authority the state power authority should be given to speed up the building of electrical infrastructure. Hochul wants the slower package. “The version of the bill moving through the legislature, which passed Wednesday in the Senate, instructs NYPA to annually evaluate whether private developers are keeping up with the clean energy goals mandated in state climate law, and, if they are lagging, to step in to close the gap. Supporters of that plan are calling Hochul’s proposal “BPRA-Lite,” since it retains the core plan of using the public power authority to build renewables but drops elements including the annual survey and a mandate to build when private developers underperform, as well as some labor-related provisions and an overhaul to the leadership of NYPA. ‘We don’t want to say, “Hey NYPA, you can do this if you want.” We want to say, “You are going to do this,”’ said Rep. Sarahana Shrestha, a new assemblymember who campaigned on her support for public power. In an interview with the Prospect, Shrestha said she was glad Hochul had included a version of the bill but cast doubt on its potential. ‘In my opinion, her version is designed to fail,’ she said.
27) National: Former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday called to end Social Security and Medicare, and instead replace them with a “better deal” for younger Americans. Grover Norquist and George W. Bush proposed a similar privatization of Social Security in nearly 20 years ago. Had that proposal, which also involved investing in Wall Street, been implemented, millions of Americans would have lost their retirement savings during the 2008-09 financial crash.
Truthout reports that “a separate report from 2016 by In the Public Interest noted that privatization efforts for other public goods and systems have negatively impacted access for marginalized groups. Such efforts can ‘create parallel systems in which one system propped up by private interests typically serves higher-income people, while another lesser quality system serves lower-income people,’ the report said, adding that, ‘in some situations, poor individuals and families can lose access to the public good completely.’ ‘All of these cases increase socioeconomic segregation, which often results in racial segregation,’ the report stated. ‘When they are privatized, public goods that were meant to serve everyone can morph into separate and unequal systems that further divide communities and perpetuate inequality.’”
28) National/Ohio: The train wreck that is bedeviling East Palestine residents after spewing tons of poisonous chemicals into the air, into homes, into streams and even into the Ohio River, is raising multiple issues of public and privateresponsibility, and these are sure to be litigated in the courts and legislatures at the state and federal levels in coming years. Government Executive is covering the immediate response, but this incident is sure to turbocharge public debate on the role of government and the necessity of democratic regulation. Thus far the consultants are stressing communications, but workers’ rights, community safety, profit margins, and political contributions will be part of the continuing story.
David Sirota, whose The Lever is putting out the best reporting on the issues, joined Krystal Kyle and Friends “to discuss what has become a horrific environmental disaster for East Palestine, Ohio, where residents have reported serious health issues and animals dying from the pollution. (…) In so many ways, what happened in East Palestine speaks to the government’s profound failure to protect Americans both in the workplace (as in the case of overworked rail workers with no sick leave) and at home.” [Audio, about an hour and 15 minutes].
While discussing the implications of the recent suppression of the rail strike, The New Yorker’s John Cassidy pointed to dark days ahead for the national transportation system as the industry seeks even bigger margins. “This is the sort of detail that doesn’t attract headlines, but it will affect the work lives of thousands of railroad workers and help keep the profits and dividend payments flowing to Wall Street. And it is surely only a precursor of more labor battles to come. The railroad companies are already pushing to reduce train crews from two to one. With autonomous control systems making rapid advances, it surely won’t be long before the companies try to introduce unmanned freight trains. Over in Australia, autonomous trains are already carrying iron ore hundreds of miles, for the mining giant Rio Tinto. In Wall Street’s relentless drive to raise profits and reward shareholders, there is no rest for workers and little space for broader considerations, such as building a cleaner and more resilient transport system.”
29) National: Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will supposedly be taking the lead on these huge challenges going forward, is in crisis. “The EPA has spent the past six years embroiled in multiple crises. Hundreds of senior staff members departed after former President Donald Trump rolled back dozens of environmental safeguards, creating gaps in institutional knowledge that continue to haunt the agency today. The COVID-19 pandemic further hobbled enforcement programs, as on-the-ground inspection rates for power plants, refineries, and other pollution sources plunged. Now, the threat of climate change is expanding the EPA’s mission in a way that Congress could not have imagined when the agency was founded in the early 1970s. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act will require staff members to dole out billions of dollars in grants to state and local initiatives and expand its Superfund cleanup program to protect communities of color living near sites of uncontrolled contamination. The agency will take on these efforts at the same time as it fulfills its regular statutory duties, which include developing complicated new rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and vehicles and increasing enforcement efforts to ensure companies are abiding by those regulations. But staffing levels have not kept up with these expanded duties.”
30) Maryland: The state’s new Democratic governor, Wes Moore, has made two appointments to the state Public Service Commission. One of them, Juan Alvarado, is “a senior official of the American Gas Association—the natural gas industry’s lobbying arm.” Watch those rates.
31) New Jersey: Bordentown Township has delayed consideration of the possible privatization of its EMS service until it can get more information. Problems facing the service “include the struggle to find qualified volunteer members to service; the need for salaries and pay rates to increase in order to compete in hiring and retaining employees; the need to increase facility needs; rising costs for new ambulances and health and liability insurances; and dipping revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing insurance marketplace.” Needless to say, since the money has to come from somewhere—i.e., citizens and user fees—privatization will address precisely none of these issues, but apparently officials are lining up for the Kool Aid.
32) New York: Leah Goodridge is warning about a potentially dire threat to the wellbeing of New York tenants. “NY has had rent stabilization for over 50 yrs. And now a group of landlords are challenging it in court in a case that very well may go to the U.S. Supreme Court. NYC is already unaffordable—avg Manhattan rent is over $5K. To lose rent stabilization means losing everything.” Could a rent strike movement such as in the 1960s return if mass evictions are threatened?
33) Virginia: A strike affecting Northern Virginia transit services “spread to a neighboring county this week as unionized workers for OmniRide began a work stoppage, hobbling bus service in the state’s second most populous county. About 150 OmniRide bus drivers went on strike at 3 a.m. [last] Tuesday, saying they are frustrated with wages and benefits they receive from a Prince William County contractor that operates bus and paratransit services in Manassas, Woodbridge and the rest of the county. Officials with the Teamsters Local 639, the union representing OmniRide workers, said they have been negotiating a new contract since September with Keolis North America, a Boston-based transit private contractor. Loudoun County Transit workers have been on strike for more than a month while locked into a similar labor dispute with Keolis over pay and benefits.”
34) International: The rise in Alberta’s precarious paramedics is being seen as a precursor to privatization. “Other data released by the Alberta NDP two weeks ago shows that there were almost 19,000 unfilled ambulance shifts in Edmonton alone from January to October of last year. ‘When hundreds of shifts are going unfilled each week, to then say, we’re not going to hire people into full-time jobs with job security and benefits, it’s counterintuitive,’ said Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare, who was shown the data by The Breach. Gallaway said this ‘casualization’ of essential front-line workers is part of a broader strategy by the UCP to undermine and ultimately privatize the public system, instead of creating a long-term stable public workforce.”
35) International: The use of outside contractors is being questioned in Canada. “Former Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick says politicians and media are not focused on the right issue when it comes to the McKinsey and Company contracts scandal. In an op-ed penned for Policy Options, Wernick said the government’s rising use of outside contractors should pose questions about a deteriorating public service, rather than allegations about corruption. ‘Opposition and the media are drilling wells hoping for a political gusher,’ he wrote. ‘Can they find something untoward in the contracting process? Can they find something troubling in the relationship? ‘The more interesting angles […] are about whether the use of outside contractors is a sign of weakening capacity by the public service.’”
36) National: In a “paean to the commons” at Resilence.org, Eliza Daley weighs in against, among other things, right wing “tragedy of the commons”-types who “tell us that privatization prevents this tragedy — as if we can’t plainly see that the lords of enclosure are the freeloaders.” She concludes, “So my jungle remediation is a reminder of reality, a clearing away of the distortions. With a little effort and expense from me, there will be this common good that everyone can use. They can use it to meet their needs, and they can use it to escape the crazy logic. They won’t need to go to The Market to feed themselves. And this little patch of commonwealth will plainly show just how stupid privatization is.”
37) National: Never letting a serious crisis go to waste, the right-wing legal movement and the corporations that back it are trying to turn a landmark initiative by the Biden administration into an attack on their opponents in the courtroom: personal injury attorneys. Their target: The Camp Lejeune Justice Act, a measure make whole as many as one million military and civilian staff and their families who might have been exposed to contaminated drinking water over decades when serving at Camp Lejeune. Will the Supreme Court weigh in? Want to hear from the chair of the Shook Hardy Public Policy Group, Mark Behrens (now private sector chair of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force) on how they’re going to battle against the litigation? Check out this Federalist Society event on March 13.
38) International: What are ‘digital public goods’? MediaNama explains it all for you. “Countries need to develop robust privacy laws and standards alongside building digital public goods. Why? Because digital public goods inevitably collect a lot of data on the ‘public’ they serve. That’s useful for governments to help sharpen governance and welfare delivery. But it can also be used to monitor citizens without their knowledge or consent. Strong privacy laws help ensure that data isn’t used by governments for anything more than it’s supposed to be used for.”
39) New Book: “Are taxes theft? Is abortion murder? Does regulation destroy jobs? Is white privilege a lie? Conservative talking points are everywhere, and through well-funded media like Fox News, Breitbart, and YouTube’s ‘Prager University,’ the right has an impressive record of packaging its views for a general audience. Clearly, the left needs to do a better job of fighting back.” Nathan Robinson is out with a new book about how to respond to right wing arguments. “In Responding to the Right, Robinson blasts right-wing nonsense with devastating intellectual weaponry, revealing how everyone from Ann Coulter to the National Review uses fear and lies to manipulate the public. He gives a detailed explanation of how conservative arguments work and why we need to resist them, then goes through twenty-five separate talking points, showing precisely why each one fails.”
While we’re on the subject, now would be a good time for folks to read another book from a while ago with a similar objective: Why the Religious Right Is Wrong About Separation of Church and State by researcher Rob Boston.