At In the Public Interest we address a wide range of issues surrounding the privatization of public goods and services, and we press government to be truly accountable to the people it serves. This work brings us into contact with many others doing their own good work—some of whom are our partners or simply allies.
Every now and then, we’re going to gather together in this space new research, reports, articles, and datasets that have come across our screens from some of those organizations and individuals that we feel offer timely insights into current issues.
The first item is fresh research from of a partnership between the Worker Institute and the Buffalo Co-Lab at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) and the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) called Diminishing New York State’s Public Mental Healthcare Sector: The Impact of Austerity and Privatization on wages and employment. The report outlines the results of a 10 percent drop in the number of mental health workers employed by New York State despite an increase in the overall number of mental healthcare workers. The team published a full report and a succinct factsheet that is well worth the time to read. It concludes that that trends in privatization and austerity “have disproportionately affected women and workers of color, with more Black or African American workers – especially women–disappearing from public sector MH-related industries than any other group.” The impact of having fewer unionized workers making decent wages goes beyond the workforce, of course—the delivery of desperately needed mental health services suffers, too.
A report released today by Public Funds Public Schools, a project of Education Law Center (ELC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), released a report documenting “the massive increase in public spending on private education voucher programs in the decade following the Great Recession” The Fiscal Consequences of Private School Vouchers, examines the growth in voucher programs over a decade in seven states. Among the findings: expenditures of public funds on voucher programs increased dramatically over the period (an astonishing 883 percent in Georgia). The report outlines the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Florida public schools to voucher programs annually.
A brief from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “Tax Avoidance Continues to Fuel School Privatization Efforts,” presents research on who is using the proliferation of state tax credits to opt out of paying taxes. Hint: It’s not the people advocates of such tax credits like to pretend. New data–presented for the first time ever–“reveal that wealthy families are overwhelmingly the ones using these credits to opt out of paying tax to public coffers. In all three states providing data, most of the credits are being claimed by families with incomes over $200,000. ITEP calls vouchers “a subsidy for the wealthy,” and the report outlines the way wealthy families use a variety of tax credits to short the public.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include In the Public Interest’s own Privatization Report, a “weekly rundown of news and analysis about the corporate takeover of education, water, and other public goods—and about the people fighting back”—it’s like a Google news tracker on steroids and Red Bull for the issues we care about. It’s put together by Lee Cokorinos, the former research director of the Institute for Democracy Studies and the author of The Assault on Diversity: An Organized Challenge to Racial and Gender Justice and Upsizing Democracy: Confronting the Right-Wing Assault on Government. The current issue includes a sizeable item on Transurban, the private partner to a Maryland public-private partnership (P3), pulling out of private toll lane expansion project. “This represents a huge victory for public interest advocates and Maryland residents, who struggled hard to block the ill-conceived project,” Lee wrote. He has closely monitored the plight of recent P3s and keeps a keen eye out for privatization news across the board. Subscribe on our website, where we also post all of the reports.
Another recent Privatization Report is where I found out about a new study that debunks the pharmaceutical industry’s claim that mRNA vaccines were developed by the industry, rather than the public sector. From an article quoted in the Privatization Report: “A new peer-reviewed study published in a major medical journal should put to rest the pharmaceutical industry’s ‘false narrative’ that its own investments were responsible for the rapid development of mRNA vaccines to fight the coronavirus pandemic.” The study, published March 1 in the BMJ, estimates that the federal government has invested at least $31.9 billion in the development, production, and purchase of mRNA coronavirus vaccines.