Corporations are eating our commons

So-called Emergency Financial Managers in Michigan are selling off public schools to private charter school corporations – and laying off hundreds of public school teachers in the process. The “mini-dictators” who – appointed by Republican Governors – have unprecedented power to fire local elected officials, break union contracts, and sell off our commons to corporate interests have decided to eat alive the public school system in West Michigan and around the Detroit area. Study after study has shown that private, charter schools don't produce any better education results, but they do pay teachers less, have higher teacher turnovers, and - making Republicans happy - are union-free.

Meanwhile, across the pond in Greece, the rich are devouring the commons at a record rate. Greece's new coalition government is trying to speed up the sale of state-owned assets including utility companies, airports and railways, and 28 other state properties. Far left SYRIZA Party leader – Alexis Tsipras – who was left out of the coalition government, blasted the privatization plans, arguing that the move was like putting a giant “for sale sign” on his country and that the, “government will have to account for its actions, the looting of public goods.” It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, the Libertarian one-world ideology of billionaires running nations into the ground while impoverishing the working class is on the move.


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 37 weeks ago

The Libertarian ideal is to put up toll road booths on every street...instead of taxes to pave these streets you have to pay some private sector corporation which has obscenely overpaid CEOs, other top execs, and of course the wealthy stock holders must get their ever increasing cut. Of course even the taxation way of doing things is often corrupted by the businesses that overcharge and the bought off politicians who let them get away with it. But the problem is not "the government", per se, but a corrupt and inefficient government that is bought off by those who exploit the system. The problem is not "the government"..the problem is the avaricious greed and conniving of those businesses that corrupts the government officials.

You want to walk on the side-walk in front of your house...."pay me". You want to breathe the air?..."pay me". Drink the water? "pay me" Yes, we still have to "pay me" when we pay our taxes but it is being run by a non-profit who doesn't have to make a bundle to pay off the worthless sinecure CEOs and other corporate heads. The only reason why our government doesn't work effectively for the people anymore is because they are owned by the profiteers. These profiteers want to destroy any part of the government that doesn't play ball with them. They use the government to get what they want but then turn right around and belittles the government. Buy a "whore"...then belittle and besmirch her while ignoring just who the hell "YOU" are in the process. How many people think very highly of the "Johns" when they buy a "whore"? Just as most people don't think very highly of them, they should put businesses, who buy off politicians, in the same light as a "John" who buys a "whore" (the politician who gets bought). And Fox Snooze would be like the pimps.

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 10 years 37 weeks ago

The old adage, "privatization is theft", applies here. We are all simply shocked to realize that the financial manager laws were a Republican ruse to thinly disguise theft of the people's resources and general kleptocratic government that is the Republican preferred model.

KassandraTroy's picture
KassandraTroy 10 years 37 weeks ago

Well, that's what they're going to do to the whole country and the world when theTrans Pacific Partnership gets approved.....after the elections, of course.

What with the damage these unrestricted corpse are doing to the planet, we may not have TIME for a revolution. The UniParty strikes again. The TPP is gonna make NAFTA look like a cakewalk. then, there's KORUS which Obama pushed thru which will take all the auto jobs we saved and the banks will probably fail again with all thier shennanigans and I don't see how we'll save them from themsleves this time....we're "broke" remember?

Oh yeah, and states are trying to dump Medicaid after the wonderful John Roberts jumped the rope and ruled that they could. Isn't he cute?

You should wake up, Thom. Just becasue Obama calls himself a Dem doesn't mean he is one. They're all fascists now

js121's picture
js121 10 years 37 weeks ago

Obama and the Attorney General, Holder MUST start prosecuting ALL of them. Look, if we are smart enough to figure out what's going on (i.e. TPP, New Right, ALEC, Paul Weyrich) - then, WHEN are they going to stop them - legally? There is Plenty of evidence and proof to convict them on many issues. What we Can stop now, we Must! If a takeover of the Democratic Republic of America by the New Right/Bilderberg Group/TPP is not enough to form a Special Team to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law - then, what is? History repeats itself and we have witnessed what has happened in other countries (Germany) when an extreme party is allowed to rule. Obama may have to watch his back - Big Time - these people are not to be played with and obviously can get away with everything. I'll take to the streets in support as I have been; but, the Feds must pursue, detain, imprison those that are destroying our Country. I Want My Country BACK!!

speakeasy's picture
speakeasy 10 years 37 weeks ago

Vote the bums out... the Republican bums.

progressiveSolutions 10 years 37 weeks ago

The approach in question isn't truly Libertarian: it is fascist by bank shot. Here's roughly how it's done:

1) Manipulate an economy into crisis by declaring hugely expensive discretionary wars that serve oil or other resource corporations, or else take advantage of a "shock" sort of situation, such as the failure of a large financial institution (several of which are still too big to fail, and must be dissolved), or by having a (privately owned) central bank play games with the money supply.

2) Declare that the country is now broke and that "we" (the Fascists) must "balance the budget" (but NEVER by raising taxes on fascists)

3) Put public assets up for sale at bargain basement prices to fascists.

The Republicans have shown how to deal with this sort of thing: they criminalize, or at least make difficult and complex, everything they don't like (and send to victims to the military/industrial/intelligence/incarceration complex to provide slave labor).

The US must:

1) Eliminate or chip away at the power of the Federal Reserve, a privately owned central bank that plays games with the money supply for political purposes. Criminalize, "out", spy upon, protest, or in other ways expose the ABA (which hobbles all banking reform), the NAB (which profits handsomely from increased expenditures on elections), the US Chamber of Commerce (which is, simply, fascist), the Business Roundtable (offshores jobs, inflates CEO compensation, does much fascist planning), participation in the World Economic (Corporate Fascism) Forum, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Friends of Bilderberg (now headed by Bill Gates, who is also a regular at the WEF), ALEC and every other fascist, anti-democratic, anti-constitutional organization, including the most-fascists corporations, such as AT&T. These organizations are all conspiratorial in nature, are all anti-constitutional, all commit treason routinely, and all aim to create an American fascist state. It's time they were treated as the criminal organizations that they are.

2) Require Congress alone to declare war of any kind, and ONLY fight declared and pre-budgeted wars. Require the children of all members of Congress and all individuals with a net worth of $1 million or more to register for the draft upon declaration of war. Criminalize presidential conduct to the contrary. (Wishful thinking, of course, but even the attempt would start interesting discussions.)

3) Cap ALL profits off of military/intelligence purchases at 4%. Include "defense" contractors in the monopoly break-ups. Tax all such profits heavily, to reduce incentives for war and immense war budgets.

4) Enforce anti-monopoly laws and break up or otherwise hobble the most fascist of the largest transnational corporations

5) Put back in place the "Fairness Doctrine" for the media, and prioritize the breakup of ALL of the media empires for the corporate break-up process

6) Make use of the corporate charter laws still on the books to whatever extent possible.

7) By Federal mandate, eliminate corporate chartering in rubber-stamp states.

8) Criminalize the sale of state assets, at least at firesale prices. Limit all sales of such assets to small businesses or consortia of private individuals.

9) Criminalize imposition of Emergency Financial Management.

10) Criminalize ALL trade accord negotiations conducted in secrecy.

11) Put estate taxes back in place. (There is no need for generational fascist dynasties, such as that of the Rockefeller and Bush families.)

12) Move the corporate and wealthy tax rates back to 1950s levels.

13) Continue to move money from all large banks.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 10 years 37 weeks ago

Private schools and charter schools expect and demand extra donations and extraordinary amounts of volunteer work from parents. They cannot possibly work for families with two working parents. One parent must be free to accommodate the school and to sit with their children for hours after school doing homework or driving to activities.

Educating a child in Florida is a living hell and a mess of lies. Parents ubiquitously use alternate address schemes to have their child placed in the public school they like best. Some church schools teach "creation science," the largest theological contradiction of all.

I have known teachers in poorer schools who have little more than contempt for their students, starting with grade one. They scorn mothers who are drug addicts, prostitutes, illiterate, deciding there is nothing they can do for the children to overcome the bad influences at home.

The husband of one such teacher remarked, " Someone has to grow up and clean toilets and work the McDonald's for the rest of us."

A public high school science teacher I know was commanded by his principal to stop giving failing grades and to hand out more B's.

To answer the question, what has to be done to reverse this trend? Sleepers, WAKE UP! Isn't it obvious we are spiraling into CHAOS?


George Reiter's picture
George Reiter 10 years 37 weeks ago

Gov. Snyder was the C.E.O. of Gateway Computers. He dismantled Gateway piece by piece as he sent the parts to Taiwan along with 19,000 American jobs as outsourced work to China. In the process, Rick Snyder made many, many million dollars before selling what was left of Gateway to a Chinese company. Now with his experience as a dismantler, he is dismantling Michigan and selling the parts to the highest bidder. His main dismantling tool is the Emergency Financial Manager, authorized by the law rammed through the Legislature in violation of the Michigan Constitution. Michigan Republicans have illegally passed over 96% of their bills under “immediate effect” without getting the required two-thirds majority.

Benton Harbor Michigan is a prime example of Gov Snyder’s cruelty in support of the Rich. Benton Harbor is a beautiful community on Lake Michigan who’s residents are mostly Afro-American and economically poor but rich in community spirit. Gov Snyder appointed one of his cronies as Emergency Financial Manger, and gave the Financial Emergency Manger a 6-figure salary to dismantle Benton Harbor. The EFM then suspended the democratically elected City Council and Mayor and sold off the City assets to the highest bidder. The selling of the Children’s Park to the wealthy was especially cruel. How low can you go?

Now it is lost. The Children’s Park now belongs to the affluent property adjacent to their golf course and condominiums where you have to pay a rich person’s fee to enter. Gov. Snyder stole from the Klock’s gift to the commons “who do not own a foot of ground” but had a chance. This act of stealing is cruel. How low will the Republicans go?

President John F. Kennedy said, “Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” But, how low can the Republicans go?

Ema0129's picture
Ema0129 10 years 37 weeks ago

Absolutely correct!

dpaulstanford's picture
dpaulstanford 10 years 37 weeks ago

Solutions: Expand natural individual rights, and curtail artificial individuals' rights. Make genetic code open source and non-patentable. Do away with the Electoral College and have more direct democracy, like Switzerland.

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 10 years 37 weeks ago

Sadly, Mr. Hartmann, there is absolutely nothing we can do to reverse this trend. We might be able to slow it (though only with the fiercest forms of resistance), but the technological superiority of the One Percent -- the Ruling Class -- is now far too great to be nullified by any known revolutionary method. Gone forever are the days when angry Parisians or militant Bolsheviks can overthrow a government by seizure of its arsenals and agencies.

From the perspective of the Ruling Class, one of the greatest benefits of privatization is its decentralization of authority: the fact there is no Winter Palace or Bastille to be seized. But even if government had remained centralized, today's technologies of oppression are as far beyond the common grasp as firearms were beyond the understanding of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africa.

While a Parisian of 1789 could within minutes learn the use of a musket, the use of an F-22 requires literally years of training. The technology gap between government and people is now truly an unbridgeable moat. Thus we are to the Ruling Class what First Nations peoples were to the Conquistadors: we are naught but prey. Verily, it is as if we have been conquered by the (fictional?) Borg: "resistance is futile."

The one lesson to be learned from the unspeakable horror of our circumstances is that the defeat of the Soviet Union was also the defeat -- probably forever -- of all our species' democratic and humanitarian aspirations. Though the U.S.S.R. was never the "workers' paradise" it claimed to be, it nevertheless was the only major power on this planet officially committed to agitating and spreading economic democracy.

And make no mistake: economic democracy is the sole wellspring of all other forms of democracy. Without economic democracy, all other forms of democracy are meaningless -- precisely as we are now learning everywhere on Earth as its rulers turn it into the slave planet they have consciously sought at least since the time of Adolf Hitler.

What oppresses us now is a de facto Fourth Reich, but this time there is no Red Army to save us. And unless Chinese capitalism is an ultimate application of Sun Tzu's "Art of War" -- long-term conversion of an enemy's greatest strength into his fatal weakness -- there will be no People's Liberation Army to rescue us either.

Yet this hideous truth does not mean we should surrender. Instead we should realize what John Paul Sartre and Albert Camus realized during the darkest days of the French Resistance, when it appeared the Third Reich was forever: that the individual act of rebellion, when seemingly doomed, is our ultimate experience of freedom.

And who can say where such experience might lead -- especially when conjoined with Mother Nature's rising fury?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 37 weeks ago

And when great Empires are seemingly at their strongest, and things are bleakest for us all, an unexpected turn of events can be triggered by the smallest of things which can overthrow those who thought they were invincible. Viruses are tiny...and they have even been manufactured by those in power. All it takes is for them to get loose, as has the viruses (ex: Duqu, Stuxnet, and Flamer) the US and Israel created to wreck the Iranian nuclear programs. Those with all of the technology, who have farmed it out to China may be sorry they did one day. What if "the internet" did come to a screeching halt? Impossible? What if instead of just stopping...all the financial transactions got totally screwed up? How many people know that a sizable amount of our currency is actually counterfeit? Even if you get counterfeit money from your ATMs, and you later get caught with it, you are stuck with the problem. The banks won't make good on your loss and you may even be threatened with legal proceedings. If your bank account is wiped out by electronic transfers, especially if you bank on-line, you may just be totally out of luck. The courts have already ruled in favor of the banks on this one. Re: Patco Construction Co. vs Ocean Bank.
The court eventually ruled against the company from being able to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bank.

4thmdr's picture
4thmdr 10 years 37 weeks ago

The least we can do with this situation is to make sure there is no profit made from public funds and publicly funded loans cannot be used for profit. If there are (were) these Charter schools would be by definition public schools and subject to all public laws.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Hartmann combines a remarkable piece of historical research with a brilliant literary style to tell the grand story of corporate corruption and its consequences for society with the force and readability of a great novel."
David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and Agenda for A New Economy
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom is a national treasure. Read him, embrace him, learn from him, and follow him as we all work for social change."
Robert Greenwald, political activist and founder and president of Brave New Films
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann channels the best of the American Founders with voice and pen. His deep attachment to a democratic civil society is just the medicine America needs."
Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties and director, Peace and Justice Resource Center.