Saturday, January 8, 2011

Business As Usual: When Public Goes Private, Non-Profit Becomes For-Profit

We are living in a world that should be getting smaller in all the good ways (e.g., labor-saving devices that will allow people more free time, improvements in public health delivery, less pollution, organic food, longevity ensuring pharmaceuticals, access to all that is needed, work that is suitable and sustaining, the list is endless) as a result of something called progress. Things are supposed to be getting better for everyone.

[I hesitate to begin this next paragraph with the bubble-bursting word instead, but there it is, and there is nothing for it.]

Instead, what is really happening, and this becomes clearer as the days go by, is that human mentality seems to get smaller and more isolationist and mean. To match that, the hubris of the entitled is becoming daily more brazen and daring in its agenda of owning as much of the world as possible before it all falls apart.

In the 1990s, there was a lot of talk in the United States about the Global Village and hope that there would be a renaissance of cultures that would make us all be friends. After September 11th 2001, however, we have heard very little about that, while much about the necessity of defense spending, about decentralization of government, lowering of taxes and the impossibility of maintaining any public programs, ostensibly because they are too expensive.

Let me unpackage some of this for us.

The “necessity” of defense spending means that most of our tax dollars are being spent on weapons of mass destruction, whose sole purpose is to intimidate, kill and destroy. The United States has had, for more than 50 years, a stockpile of weapons and artillery that could destroy the planet more than a hundred times over, and so it is hard to believe that anyone could need more of the stuff, much less the very latest in death and destruction technology. And yet, the generals want more, and so do the private defense contractors, who rake in billions of dollars by manufacturing death. The budget for upkeep of existing nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal alone has been reckoned enough to provide every person on the planet with food, safe drinking water and shelter, annually. Think about it.

Decentralization of government means that the bureaucracy is being transferred from the public to the private sector. This move is touted as a cost savings to government, but this cannot not possibly prove true in financial analysis. It may save the government money, but it doesn’t save you or me anything! The money still comes from our pockets. When we move from public to private, we move from a non-profit situation to a for-profit situation. Our rights then have a retail cost. If we cannot meet that for-profit cost in the marketplace, then we are out in the cold. Alarmist, you say? Well, if the Governor of the State of Arizona can take people off waitlists for organ transplants because their economic condition will not allow them to pay for the procedure, and if firefighters in Tennessee can standby and watch someone’s home burn to the ground because the member of the public that owns that dwelling allegedly did not pay some very small local fee, then what do we have, here? Think about it.

Voters are asked to vote for candidates based on candidates’ promises of “no new taxes”. This happens first, of course, at the federal level. Responsibility for the public welfare is then removed from the federal level to the state level, where voters are asked to vote for candidates based on the candidates’ promises of “no new taxes”. Responsibility for the public welfare is then removed from the state level to the local level, where voters are asked to vote for candidates based on the candidates’ promises of “no new taxes”. But, then, of course, local officials, once in office, say, “shucks, darn it! We have to raise taxes so that we can uphold the public welfare and basic infrastructure!” And the only way the local yokels have to do this is by having the community vote to mandate a parcel tax premium over the regular property tax. Moreover, the people and businesses with the most money do not contribute according to what they have. The burden falls on the average tax payer, trying to make it in a wavering economy. Think about it.

“Citizen’s Initiatives” are placed on local and state level ballots by big businesses and special interest groups funded by big business, not just your everyday citizen, to get voters to mandate what is good for big business: guaranteed jobs and tax payer money to pay for these jobs. The average person cannot manipulate the system in this way to get a job. What is an example of such a program? Well, the voters of the State of California mandated R&D for stem cell research. Instead of funding public schools (public education is mandated by the State, you know), the State of California is funding stem cell research with taxpayer dollars. To date, this program has sucked in billions in public funds, but has been a complete bust as a business enterprise—while, of course, a few people have been making a lot of money. Meanwhile, who does this publicly mandated program benefit? This public program does not benefit the average Californian as much as it benefits Big Business Pharma Industry. This public program has not created a whole lot of jobs, because it is a highly scientific specialty. Look up the articles on the internet. Think about it.

Such maneuvers have become commonplace, to the extent that I wonder how the average person can possibly be surprised by them. But we are.

I assert that we are being sold into a kind of slavery, and we don’t even realize it.

This is unthinkable, but I want you to think on it.

When your local police and fire departments become privatized, who will be in charge of them? Will your local government have oversight? If you have not paid your local taxes, will the firefighters park across the street from your burning house and watch you and your home go up in flames, while carefully monitoring that it does not spread next door, where they did pay the local tax? Think about it.

Since when did government have to turn a profit to be successful? What happened to By the People, for the People? Think about it.

Since when did big business know better how to run government agencies, hospitals, schools and prisons? Did you know that Dick Cheney owns prisons? Look up the articles on the internet. Think about it.

This is, Dear Reader, all food for thought. I do not have answers. Obviously, more examples could be brought into this discussion; space here is limited. But I can say this: if our government and business leaders had not been gambling and losing with public tax funds and your pension and everyone’s real estate, and if our government agencies hadn’t bonded us all into indebtedness on the basis of future tax earnings that would often (particularly in the case of redevelopment, but probably elsewhere, also) not be realized until 40 years into the future, the world would not be experiencing the dreadful financial collapse that now imperils the lives of so many.

This has not been progress, People. This has been, and continues to be, business as usual. Moreover, it has been and continues to be robbery. Think about it.

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