Privatization: Profits Over People

Paul Buchheit at Common Dreams takes a look at The Project on Government Oversight’s latest report on privatization. They found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report said “Our findings were shocking.”

For the U.S. Postal Service, for instance, it costs less than 50 cents to send a letter to any remote location in the United States. For an envelope with a two-day guarantee, FedEx and UPS charge about four to five times as much.

USPS is so inexpensive, in fact, that Fedex actually uses the U.S. Post Office for about 30 percent of its ground shipments. As Ralph Nader notes, the USPS has not taken any taxpayer money since 1971, and if it weren’t required by an inexplicable requirement to pre-fund employee benefits for 75 years, it would be making a profit. Instead, this national institution has been forced to cut jobs and routes and mailing centers.

In other words, privatization places profits over people.

Read the entire article: How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

We Have A Nice Cell Waiting For You

If you are poor, ill or addicted, don’t worry. We can warehouse you almost indefinitely and you’ll never have to worry.

From a new report by the Vera Institute of Justice:

“Local jails, which exist in nearly every town and city in America, are built to hold people deemed too dangerous to release pending trial or at high risk of flight. This, however, is no longer primarily what jails do or whom they hold, as people too poor to post bail languish there and racial disparities disproportionately impact communities of color. This report reviews existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point.”

Read More: Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America | Vera Institute of Justice.

FBI Expands Domestic Spy Role

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times, the Justice Department has partially declassified a report about the F.B.I.’s involvement in administering the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the FISA Amendments Act. When the report was completed in September 2012, it was entirely classified and the department announced only that it existed.

Read the report here: Justice Department Declassifies 2012 Inspector General Report on FBI Activities Under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 –

You can also read the Times’ story concerning the report here: F.B.I. is Broadening Surveillance Role, Report Shows –

Articles That Caught My Eye Today


A State-by-State Look at TANF | The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

A generation jeopardized by obsession with testing | Wendy Lecker, The Stamford Advocate


The war on giving | Jessica Hansen-Weaver, Socialist Worker

How Police Use Military Tactics to Quash Dissent | Aaron Cantú, Alternet

Wal-Mart’s Bottomless Greed: Dodging Billions in Taxes, Scheming to Avoid Billions More | Steven Rosenfeld, Alyssa Figueroa, Alternet

The Corporate Court in Context

Peter Montgomery from People for the American Way puts this week’s Supreme Court decisions in historical context.

Samuel Alito is the single most pro-corporate Justice on the most pro-business Court since the New Deal. Still, Alito’s one-two punch was another extraordinary milestone for the strategists who have been working for the past 40 years to put business firmly in the driver’s seat of American politics.

Many would suggest that the modern right-wing movement began with the failed presidential bid of Barry Goldwater. But there’s a strong case to be made that it begins in earnest with a 1971 memo by Lewis Powell, who argued that American businesses were losing public support and called for a massive, continuing campaign to wage war on leftist academics, progressive nonprofit groups, and politicians. The memo by Powell, who was later appointed to the Supreme Court via a nomination by Richard Nixon, inspired a few very wealthy men like Adolph Coors, John M. Olin, and Richard Mellon Scaife, who set about creating and funding a massive infrastructure of think tanks, endowed academic chairs, law schools and right-wing legal groups, including the Federalist Society, which has nurtured Alito’s career.

Read the full article: Samuel Alito: A Movement Man Makes Good on Right-Wing Investments | Peter Montgomery.

Lies My Postmaster General Told Me

The Postal Service has been reporting revenue increases for five straight quarters. So why is Postmaster General Donahoe minimizing that winning streak? Over the last few years, faced with falling revenue, postal management has closed post offices, slashed rural office hours, sold historic buildings, cut jobs, and consolidated processing plants. It continues to seek closings and service cuts, such as eliminating Saturday delivery; but some of these moves have been delayed or curtailed by pushback from the public, from employees, and from legislators.

Read More: Why is the Postmaster General Understating Postal Revenue Gains? | Talking Union.

New Study: Charter Schools Hurt Poor Kids

Adopting a “school reform” agenda that encourages privatization actually makes the problems worse, according to a new study.

“In pushing these efforts, politicians, rightwing think tanks, chambers of commerce, and, most of all, the American Legislative Exchange Council are actually creating the very problem of failure in the school system they claim their privatization plans will help address.”

Read about it: Scathing Report Finds School Privatization Hurts Poor Kids – In These Times.

Understanding Education “Reform”

Deborah Meier writes at Talking Union about the greed behind the “new reform” movement in Education.

“Having failed time after time with vouchers—direct public funding of private schools, the new reformers saw a way around it. Their instincts also suggested that history favors reforms that make repeal difficult, almost impossible. So the motto is: move fast and thoroughly.”

Read the full article: Follow the money to understand education reform | Talking Union.