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Friday, June 17, 2016

ALEC Plans Corporate Control and Privatization Of Every City In America



Politicus USA



ALEC Plans Corporate Control and Privatization Of Every City In America




ALEC Plans Corporate Control and Privatization Of Every City In America



The idea of absolute control means exerting one’s will over every aspect of an organization from the very top down to the lowliest position. In their drive to control America from the top down, it is insufficient for the Koch brothers to control Congress and the Supreme Court without owning the occupant of the White House any more than controlling every Republican state legislature without control over those state’s city and county governments. It is true the Koch’s are poised to spend nearly a billion dollars to put a Koch surrogate in the White House, and to completely take over the entire nation they are paying an American Legislative Exchange Council subsidiary to impose their corporate agenda on every town, village, city, and county in America.
Many Americans have never heard of the Koch brothers much less their legislative arm in Congress and, more importantly, state legislatures across the country. What the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) does is allow corporations to write legislation for Republicans to introduce and then pass into law. Corporations pay the Koch brothers’ ALEC for the privilege of allowing their operatives to write corporate legislation for Republicans and it makes ALEC, and now a subsidiary, more powerful than any special interest, lobbyist, state legislator, and in the majority of cases informs how and why corporations control Republican state governments. Apparently, though, controlling state legislatures is not enough for the Kochs and their corporate cabal so they set their sights on local jurisdictions like city councils, mayors, school districts, and county supervisory boards to round out their sphere of corporate influence on America from the federal government down to the local village council.
The American City County Exchange (ACCE) is an offshoot of (ALEC) that describes itself as “America’s only free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers.” Beginning in 2015, ACCE became an ALEC-operated project and not a separate Koch-funded social welfare 501(c)(3} charitable non-profit organization. Like its mother organization ALEC, ACCE is wholly funded by corporations whose operatives write and vote for “model legislation and measures” for city and county governments to give the Koch brothers and corporations complete control of every jurisdiction in the nation regardless of size.
The only difference between ALEC and ACCE is that where ALEC (the Kochs) exerts complete control over the United States Congress and state legislatures, ACCE will seize control of all city and county governments in the nation. As the Guardian accurately reports, with Koch and corporations funding their operations, ALEC and its subsidiary ACCE have effectively handed “corporate America a direct conduit to control the policy making process of city councils and municipalities” in every state in America. It is a bloodless coup d’├ętat, but bloodless or not, it is still a complete takeover of every legislative body in America with absolutely no opposition or outrage; that is the effect and consequence of a nation with an incredibly ill-informed and stupid population.
Despite controlling most of America’s government, the Kochs just were not getting the results they wanted fast enough using ALEC as its legislative arm in Congress and state legislatures along with ALEC’s sister organization, the State Policy Network (SPN), SPN is tasked with abolishing public pensions, unions, minimum wage, and employee benefits like sick leave, overtime pay, and worker’s compensation in state legislatures, but they have not succeeded fast enough for the Kochs and it is not for lack of trying. So the Koch’s decided to create and use ACCE to impose corporate control of city and county governments with the goal of imposing corporate control over school districts, banning city and county-level union representation, privatizing local public school districts, eliminating prevailing wage laws, abolishing commercial zoning regulations, and eliminating local environmental provisions their corporate funders and churches claim are either communist intrusions on the ‘free market’ or a vicious liberal government attack on religious liberty.
The American City County Exchange held its organizational meeting last month in Dallas to help its corporate operatives push policies important to advancing the Koch corporate libertarian vision on all Americans. According to Jon Russell, ACCE’s national director and  town (not city) council member in Culpeper, Virginia,  “There are some really good ideas out there that are percolating, and those are the kinds of out-of-the-box thinking that we are really pushing hard.” The “out-of-the-box thinking” Russell wets his knickers over includes pushing corporate  operation of city and county services like garbage pickup and providing water and sewer services, eliminating collective bargaining and unions, banning prevailing wage and overtime laws, and imposing corporate control of public schools. ACCE’s goals are imposing ALEC’s state-level corporate control over every municipality in America under the guise of free markets and fiscal responsibility.
As a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in campaign finance, Jessica Levinson, noted, like ALEC, ACCE’s mission is not fiscal responsibility, helping municipalities, or improving conditions for Americans. Levinson is completely correct in saying that “There’s a lot of money to be made in local government,” and that for the Koch brothers “privatization makes perfect sense, working hand in glove with corporations makes perfect sense, and expanding (ALEC’S) corporate agenda to county and city governments makes perfect sense.” A research analyst at Common Cause, Jay Riestenberg, echoed Professor Levinson and said that ACCE opens the door for corporate influence over local governments and profit from that control. Riestenberg said, “This’ll ease the way for corporations to take over all local services. The public sector is a $6 trillion enterprise, and this is a huge money-making opportunity for them.”
It is true there is an inordinate amount of public money corporations and the Kochs want to steal, but absolute control of every aspect of American government is much more important to the Kochs. As Professor Levinson said, everything about using an ALEC subsidiary to impose corporate control of government and pillage town, city, and county coffers makes perfect sense to the Koch brothers. Because they will never be satisfied until they have imposed corporate-ownership libertarian-style on all aspects of American government. The new ALEC subsidiary, the American City County Exchange (ACCE) will give the Koch’s the control they so desperately lust, and the Koch cabal’s corporations running local governments will profit handsomely from all American taxpayers.

5 ways privatization is fleecing American taxpayers

SALON


5 ways privatization is fleecing American taxpayers

Government outsourcing goes horribly wrong more often than not. Here are a few representative horror stories




5 ways privatization is fleecing American taxpayers
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
AlterNet
For decades we’ve been subjected to constant propaganda that government is inefficient, bureaucratic and expensive. We’re told that the answer is to “privatize,” or “outsource” government functions to private businesses and they will do things more efficiently and everyone comes out ahead. As a result we have experienced decades of privatization of government functions.

So how has this wave of privatization worked out? Has privatization saved taxpayers money and improved services to citizens? Simple answer: of course not. If a company can make a profit doing something the government had been doing, it means that we’re losing out one way or another. It’s simple math. And the result of falling for the privatization scam is that taxpayers have been fleeced, services to citizens have been cut way back and communities have been made poorer. But the companies that convinced governments to hand over public functions have gotten rich off of the deal. How is this a surprise?

Here are 5 privatization horror stories, where government outsourcing has gone terribly wrong. (Or maybe you’d say it has gone terribly right if you are one of the companies getting the taxpayer dollars.)

1. Chicago Parking Meters

The mother of all privatization horror stories is what happened with Chicago’s parking meters. In 2008 the city “financialized” its parking meter revenue stream. It leased the rights to collect from parking meters to a consortium led by Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley. The lease is for 75 years.

Right away parking-meter rates went up fourfold and meters stopped working. The city’s residents were unhappy, but there was nothing they could do about it.

But wait, it gets worse. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the big Wall Street bank was more interested in making money than in giving Chicago the best deal it could. An inspector general looked into the deal and found that the city was shortchanged by at least $974 million. But a 2010 Forbes story says the Morgan Stanley consortium may realize a profit of $9.58 billion after paying Chicago only $1.15 billion.

To top it off, the city not only gave up 75 years of revenue for not nearly enough up-front cash, it had signed a contract prohibiting the city from interfering with Morgan Stanley’s ability to profit from the deal. This means the city can’t build parking structures where they are needed and can’t even give out disabled parking permits. The city can’t even close streets to have street fairs or festivals without paying Morgan Stanley for lost meter profits.

2. Toll Roads

Some states are considering privatizing their roads with “public-private partnerships.” The deal is that private companies maintain the roads and in exchange can charge a toll and make a profit. How is this working out?

In 2006 Indiana privatized I-80, the Indiana Toll Road. For $3.8 billion the state gave a 75-year lease to the Australian company Macquarie Group and Spain’s Cintra. (Goldman Sachs is said to have earned $20 million for brokering the deal.) At the time Washington Post business columnist Jerry Knight wrote that the deal sounded like “tossing the family furniture in the fireplace to keep the house warm.”

Since then tolls have just about doubled. And it’s going to get worse. Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post explained, “The road’s leaseholders can now raise the toll annually at one of three rates — at a flat two percent, at the percentage increase in the consumer price index or at the percentage increase in gross domestic product — whichever is highest. Over the course of the coming decades, Hoosiers can expect to learn a hard lesson in compound interest, long after Gov. Daniels is gone.”

In 2007 Colorado leased its Northwest Highway to a Portuguese/Brazilian company for 99 years. The company raised tolls 50% and taxpayers have to pay the company if too many carpoolers use the high-occupancy lanes. The contract includes a “non-compete” clause that “requires payments to the foreign corporation if certain roads or facilities are built in the area that would compete with the toll road.” In other words, if traffic gets really bad Colorado is not allowed to do anything to solve the problem for its citizens – mass transit, congestion-relief arteries, etc. — instead forcing citizens to use that highway and pay whatever the toll is. For 99 years.

3. Prisons for Profit

Imagine a system where someone makes a profit if more and more people are put in prison. This is known as a “perverse incentive.” Really, can you think of anything worse than getting a profit to get people put in jail? What you think could go wrong is exactly what does go wrong. These companies want profits, so rehabilitation becomes a “cost.”

These companies push for government policies that put more people into prison for more crimes and for longer sentences. Prison-for-profit companies working with the corporate/right-wing lobbying outfit American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) came up with model legislationpushing things like “three strikes” and “truth in sentencing” which greatly increase the number of prisoners and the amount of time they serve.

But the worst part of prison privatization is companies saving on “costs” by cutting back on staff, food quality and you-name it. A 2013 Palm Beach Post investigation found that “dangerously low numbers of corrections officers — including local guards with criminal backgrounds — and reports of squalor, rape and riots dog corporate prison operators. …Audits, security reports, lawsuits, government records and state and federal investigations in 21 states unveil a startling pattern of murder, riots and sexual assault at private prisons nationwide. Often, those failures stem from not enough guards.”

Nine major riots erupted since 2000. At least 25 inmates died amid claims of mistreatment, inadequate medical care or in riots. Three prisons for teenagers were shuttered between 2000 and 2012 after discoveries of squalor and sex abuse. A women’s prison was emptied after widespread reports of rape by staff.

How does this compare to prisons that are not run by private companies for profit?

At Florida’s state-run prisons in the same 12-year period: No major damage or severe injuries from riots; no closures over squalor; no Justice Department investigations over human rights.

In another example in Mississippi, a private company called the GEO Group ran the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. The Justice Department spent two years looking into conditions at the facility and issued a report saying the facility engaged in “systemic, egregious and dangerous practices.” A judge wrote the company “has allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk.”

A recent In the Public Interest report, The Costs of Private Prisons, says “the promised cost savings often fail to materialize.” The report looked at more than 40 studies of private prisons and how this turned out, in five states. They found “no cost advantage” and that for-profit prison companies, “employ questionable methodology when calculating costs of private facilities. This includes finding ways to hide the costs of private prisons, ensuring that increased costs are not apparent until after the initial contract is signed, and using inflated public prison costs during comparisons.”

4. Cost Overruns

Cost overruns are a common scam when governments outsource to private companies.

In 2008 New York City decided to “save money” by contracting out its payroll system. The original estimate to develop the “CityTime” system was $68 million. A little over 10 years later the cost had ballooned to more than $700 million and the system still didn’t work. A recent Daily Kospost descibed what an investigation revealed:

The corrupt contractors lined their pockets with millions of dollars as they accepted kickbacks, funneled huge sums into shell companies, deposited stolen money into overseas accounts, inflated bills and maintained a bloated payroll with excessively paid and even fired employees.
The contractor, Science Applications International Corp. has agreed to pay the city $500 million“under a deferred-prosecution agreement to resolve claims that it conspired to defraud the city.” Three employees were recently sentenced to 20 years each for their roles in the theft and fraud.

5. Any Government “Outsourcing” Anything

If you examine the claim that private companies are always more efficient than government, the argument starts to fall apart. Just how are companies more efficient?

The first way companies are supposed to be better is cost-savings. But just how do they save money? There are two ways a company can save money over what government spends. The first is to reduce what it pays employees and suppliers. The second is to cut back on the amount or quality of the service the company is taking over.

So let’s say a town decides to “save money” by outsourcing its trash collection. The people who were employed by the city to do this are laid off and things are turned over to the company. Typically the company will hire people at as close to minimum wage as possible and likely with no benefits. It will employ fewer managers and pay them less as well. It will cut back on maintenance of the fleet, and it will try to cut back on the pickup service.

Does this actually save government money? If people with OK public-employee jobs are replaced by lower-paid workers the community is poorer in the aggregate. More people will need public “safety-net” services. There will be foreclosures. Tax revenue drops because of lower pay but also because poorer people can’t spend as much in stores. Sales taxes drop as stores face fewer customers able to get by.

Daphne Greenwood of the University of Colorado did a study of privatization titled, The Decision to Contract Out: Understanding the Full Economic and Social Impacts. The study found that the resulting wage and benefit cuts hurt the community at large, including declining retail sales, greater reliance on public assistance and a larger share of at-risk children in low-income families. On a recent phone call discussing the study Greenwood said that when governments outsource, “the availability of middle-class jobs is affected, even upward mobility.” She said, “Contracting to private corps usually means big reductions in worker benefits and benefits,” and “lower wages often mean a shift to less experienced employees.”

In addition, she said, “There are more workers and retirees who end up on public assistance, which means more children in poverty so local schools are dealing with more problems.”

Janice Fine of Rutgers University has also done a study, Overlooking Oversight: A Lack of Oversight in the Garden State is Placing New Jersey Assets and Residents at Risk. She looked at outsourcing in New Jersey and found that a “stunning lack” of government oversight of contractors caused problems for Hurricane Sandy victims as well as greater risk for vulnerable children – and millions in wasted tax dollars in New Jersey.

On the same call as Greenwood, Fine said she found, “a stunning lack of government oversight of contractors,” and that, “oversight shouldn’t be set aside because of cost, it should be an essential part of outsourcing.”

Time To Reassess

Government outsourcing, also known as privatization, has been going on for decades, and now governments are reassessing whether turning public property and services over to private companies has really been a good idea. Story after story has appeared detailing horror stories of corruption, incompetence and general scamming by companies interested only in profit. Molly Ball reported recently in The Privatization Backlash in the Atlantic, “In states and cities across the country, lawmakers are expressing new skepticism about privatization, imposing new conditions on government contracting, and demanding more oversight. Laws to rein in contractors have been introduced in 18 states this year, and three—Maryland, Oregon and Nebraska—have passed legislation, according to In the Public Interest, a group that advocates what it calls ‘responsible contracting.'”

Other Horror Stories

A report by In the Public Interest titled “Out of Control: The Coast-to-Coast Failures of Outsourcing Public Services to For-Profit Corporations,” highlights several other horror stories that happen when local and state governments privatize public functions to private companies. The report begins,

“Eager for quick cash, state and local governments across America have for decades handed over control of critical public services and assets to corporations that promise to handle them better, faster and cheaper. Unfortunately for taxpayers, not only has outsourcing these services failed to keep this promise, but too often it undermines transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition – the underpinnings of democracy itself.”

The next time someone tells you private companies are always “more efficient” than government, tell them the facts are against them. It has been tried and it didn’t work.

8 Ways Privatization Has Failed America

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Common Dreams


8 Ways Privatization Has Failed America


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Some of America's leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the "free market." Said Ted Koppel, "We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another."Fareed Zakaria admitted, "I am a big fan of the free market...But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn't work well, it can cause huge distortions." They're right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn't seem to work in any of the areas vital to the American public.


Health Care


Our private health care system is by far the most expensive system in the developed world. Forty-two percent of sick Americans skipped doctor's visits and/or medication purchases in 2011 because of excessive costs. The price of common surgeries is anywhere from three to ten times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany. Some of thedocumented tales: a $15,000 charge for lab tests for which a Medicare patient would have paid a few hundred dollars; an $8,000 special stress test for which Medicare would have paid $554; and a $60,000 gall bladder operation, which was covered for $2,000 under a private policy.

As the examples begin to make clear, Medicare is more cost-effective. According to theCouncil for Affordable Health Insurance, Medicare administrative costs are about one-third that of private health insurance. More importantly, our ageing population has been staying healthy. While as a nation we have a shorter life 
expectancy than almost all otherdeveloped countries, Americans covered by Medicare INCREASED their life expectancy by 3.5 years from the 1960s to the turn of the century.

Free-market health care has been taking care of the CEOs. Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, made $1,845,000 in 2012. That's over ten times as much as the $170,000 made by the federal Medicare Administrator in 2010. Stephen J. Hemsley, the CEO of United Health Group, made three hundred times as much, with most of his $48 million coming from stock gains.

Water


A Citigroup economist gushed, "Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals."

A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. A more recent study confirms that privatization will generally "increase the long-term costs borne by the public." Privatization is "shortsighted, irresponsible and costly."

Numerous examples of water privatization abuses or failures have been documented in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island -- just about anywhere it's been tried. Meanwhile, corporations have been making outrageous profits on a commodity that should be almost free. Nestle buys water for about 1/100 of a penny per gallon, and sells it back for ten dollars. Their bottled water is not much differentfrom tap water.

Worse yet, corporations profit from the very water they pollute. Dioxin-dumping Dow Chemicals is investing in water purification. Monsanto has been accused of privatizing its own pollution sites in order to sell filtered water back to the public.

Internet, TV, and Phone


It seems the whole world is leaving us behind on the Internet. According to the OECD, South Korea has Internet speeds up to 200 times faster than the average speed in the U.S., at about half the cost. Customers are charged about $30 a month in Hong Kong or Korea or parts of Europe for much faster service than in the U.S., while triple-play packages in other countries go for about half of our Comcast or AT&T charges.
Bloomberg notes that deregulators in the 1990s anticipated a market-based decline in phone and cable bills, an "invisible hand" that would steer competing companies to lower prices for all of us. Verizon and AT&T and Comcast and Time-Warner haven't let it happen.

Transportation


As Republicans continue to deride public transportation as 'socialist' and 'Soviet-style,'China surges ahead with a plan to create the world's most advanced high-speed railtransport network. Government-run high-speed rail systems have been successful in numerous other countries, and England and Brazil both lament industry privatization.

As a warning to wannabe Post Office privatizers, Greyhound and Trailways once provided service to remote locations in America, but deregulation intervened. The bus companies eliminated unprofitable routes, and cutbacks and salary decreases, all in the name of optimal profits, resulted in drivers working up to 100 hours a week -- a fact to consider any time each of us ride the bus.

With privatization comes automatic rate increases. Chicago surrendered its parking meters for 75 years and almost immediately faced a doubling of parking rates. California'sexperiments with roadway privatization resulted in cost overruns, public outrage, and a bankruptcy; equally disastrous was the state's foray into electric power privatization. In Pennsylvania, an analysis of school busing by the Keystone Research Center concluded that "Contracting out substantially increases state spending on transportation services."

Banking


The industry is bloated with deceit and depravity. Almost all of the big names have taken part. Goldman Sachs designed mortgage packages to lose money for everyone except Goldman. Countrywide and Wells Fargo targeted Blacks and Hispanics for unaffordable subprime loans. HSBC Bank laundered money for Mexican drug cartels. GE Capitalskimmed billions of dollars from its customers. Dozens of hedge fund managers have been guilty of insider trading. Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase hid billions of dollars of bonuses and losses and loans from investors. Banks fixed interest rates in the LIBOR scandal. They illegally foreclosed on millions of homeowners in the robo-signing scandal.

Matt Taibbi explained to us how financial malfeasance led to the bubbles in dot-com stocks and housing and oil prices and commodities that extract trillions of dollars away from society.

This is all the result of free-market deregulated private business. The best-known public bank, on the other hand, is the Bank of North Dakota, which remains profitable whileserving small business and the public at low cost relative to the financial industry.


Prisons


One would think it a worthy goal to rehabilitate prisoners and gradually empty the jails. But business is too good. With each prisoner generating up to $40,000 a year in revenue, it has apparently made economic sense to put over two million people behind bars.

The need to fill privatized prisons has contributed to mass jailings for drug offenses, withAfrican Americans, who make up 13% of the population, accounting for 53.5 percent of all persons who entered prison because of a drug conviction. Yet marijuana usage rates areabout the same for Blacks and whites.

Studies show that private prisons perform poorly in numerous ways: prevention of intra-prison violence, jail conditions, rehabilitation efforts. Investigations in Ohio and New Jersey revealed a familiar pattern of money-saving cutbacks and worsening conditions.


Education


The notion that charter schools outperform traditional public schools is not supported by the facts. An updated 2013 Stanford University CREDO study concluded that privatized schools were slightly better in reading and slightly worse in math, with little difference overall. Charter results have shown an improvement since 2009.

An independent study by Bold Approach found that "reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from...policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment."

Just as with prisons and hospitals, cost-saving business strategies apply to the privatization of our children's education. Charter school teachers have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate. Non-teacher positions have insufficient retirement plans and health insurance, and much lower pay.
If big money has its way, our children may become high-tech symbols and objects. Bill Gates proposes quality control for the student assembly line, with video footage from the classrooms sent to evaluators to check off teaching skills.

Consumer Protection


Warning signs about unregulated privatization are becoming clearer and more deadly. The Texas fertilizer plant, where 14 people were killed in an explosion and fire, was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over 25 years ago. The U.S. Forest Service, stunned by the Prescott, Arizona fire that killed 19, was forced by the sequester to cut 500 firefighters. The rail disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec followed deregulation of Canadian railways.

Regulation is meant to protect all of us, but anti-government activists have worked hard to turn us against our own best interests. Among recommended Republican cuts is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which rescued hundreds of people after Hurricane Sandy while serving millions more with meals and water. In another ominous note for the future, the House passed the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, which would deny the 
Environmental Protection Agency the right to enforce the Clean Water Act.

Deregulation not only deprives Americans of protection, but it also endangers us with the persistent threat of corporate misconduct. As late as 2004 Monsanto had insisted thatAgent Orange "is not the cause of serious long-term health effects." Dow Chemical, the co-manufacturer of Agent Orange, blamed the government. Halliburton pleaded guilty todestroying evidence after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Cleanups cost much more than the fines imposed on offending companies, as government costs can run into thebillions, or even tens of billions, of dollars.

People vs. Profits


As summed up by US News, "Private industry is not going to step in and save people from drowning, or help them rebuild their homes without a solid profit." In order to stay afloat as a nation we need each other, not savvy businesspeople who presume to tell us all how to be rich. We can't all be rich. We just want to keep from drowning.
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.