Your weekly rundown of news and analysis about the privatization of education, water, and other public goods—and about the people fighting back. Not a subscriber? Sign up.
- Google-connected tech company gets in on proposed privatized Maryland toll road.
- “I believed the charter school myth—until I learned about the reality and who was behind it,” writes former charter school teacher.
- How infrastructure is a racial justice issue.
“By this I don’t just mean introduce governmental solutions and spend money, which Biden is already doing. I mean adding to that a militant case for government that is every bit as emotive and powerful as the forty-year case against, which was so compelling that it persuaded millions of people to vote for their own subjugation. I’m talking about truly educating Americans about what the government does—not just the famous parts of it that we hear about on the news and argue about without end. But the uncelebrated and obscure and dull parts of it that keep our food safe and roads clean and Social Security checks printing and markets open and schools teaching and medical research coming, that give us things like the internet.”
2) National: President Biden is expected to roll out his long anticipated infrastructure bill this Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The New York Times reports that the two-part plan “would spend heavily on clean energy deployment and the development of other ‘high-growth industries of the future’ like 5G telecommunications. It includes money for rural broadband, advanced training for millions of workers, and one million affordable and energy-efficient housing units. Documents suggest it will include nearly $1 trillion in spending on the construction of roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, electric vehicle charging stations, and improvements to the electric grid and other parts of the power sector. Whether it can muster Republican support will depend in large part on how the bill is paid for.” The second part of the plan, to be rolled out in April, “will cover issues such as child care and health care.”
In the Public Interest’s Jeremy Mohler poses some key questions about the initiative. “Will it be explicit about privatization? Will it take a page out of Trump’s playbook, using a smaller pot of public money to ‘leverage’ private investment from Wall Street banks and multinational corporations? Will it promote so-called ‘public-private partnerships,’ which drain money and take decision-making power away from local communities? These are important questions. So much is at stake. Particularly, racial justice.”
“More recently,” Mohler says, “a growing industry of multinational banks, construction firms, and private investors have lobbied state and local policymakers to sign infrastructure public-private partnerships. Private money has been used to build toll roads, water systems, prisons, and an increasing variety of infrastructure. Maryland’s Prince George’s County, which is majority Black, just became the first jurisdiction in the country to sign a public-private partnership to build and maintain public schools. Poor and working people, particularly those of color, have shouldered the worst outcomes of the privatization trend. Privatizing water systems and other infrastructure, including internet services, often has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. It also takes decision-making power away from these communities, contributing to systemic racism.”
3) National: Today is the day that ballots are due in the union recognition election at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama. Counting begins tomorrow. On Friday, a support rally was held in solidarity with Amazon workers in Alabama. It was addressed by an organizer with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Amazon Worker Linda Burns, Killer Mike, and Bernie Sanders. [Video, about 36 minutes].
“If the union wins, its fight won’t be over,” writes Josh Dzieza in The Verge. “Companies often stonewall in negotiations over a first contract, requiring further public and political pressure from the union. “There are so many examples of where unions win elections, and eventually they walk away because they cannot get the company to bargain in good faith and to get to a first contract,” said Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University.”
Organizing workers and communities in the South is going beyond the retail trade. Madeline Janis of Jobs to Move America tells us that “buses from many big cities across the country are being made by multinational NFI Group in Alabama where workers and community members have been organizing to win a Community Benefits Agreement that includes union neutrality for workers at two factories in rural Alabama near Birmingham. A new report from Alabama A&M University (an HBCU) reveals that Black workers at @NFI’s Alabama plants are paid less, have less stable schedules, and fear speaking up more than their white counterparts.”
4) National: The Biden administration is poised to take significant action on a range of environmental issues. “In the coming weeks, officials are expected to release a new plan for reaching the goals set out under the Paris Climate Agreement and recommend changes to several national monuments. More broadly, the administration is considering steps that could include taking a harder line on climate regulations. And while the regulatory process can be slow, Biden officials have already made moves to delay or nix certain Trump era rules, in addition to setting sights on replacing them. Environmental groups have indicated they’re willing to be patient as the process unfolds.”
5) National/Revolving Door News: Public Citizen has published a report on Big Tech lobbying. They find that “Big Tech has hired an army of revolving door lobbyists,” and that
- Amazon’s head of policy is tenured in Biden-world
- Apple’s former policy head has already joined Biden’s team
- Facebook moves to swap out Republican lobbyists with Democrats
- Google hired Democratic operative and former Obama staffer
- Big Tech lobbyists are among the biggest spenders in Washington
6) National: The White House has reinstated government accountability measures that were stripped during the final days of the Trump administration. The Hill reports that “a new memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revamps the good governance provision in the budgeting process that requires agencies to set goals and meet them in order to get funding.
“Agencies were clear, and unanimous, in their desire to have the earlier framework reinstated,” Pam Coleman, OMB’s associate director of Performance and Personnel Management, wrote in a post announcing the decision.”
7) California: The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has proposed to add the so-called “forever chemical” PFOA to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The Environmental Working Group’s President Ken Cook, in a statement Wednesday, “welcomed the California regulator’s move as a ‘landmark decision’ that ‘underscores the state’s longstanding commitment to protecting its citizens from cancer-causing chemicals like PFOA.’ ‘The damage to communities nationwide from PFOA-contaminated drinking water and exposure through everyday consumer products is almost unimaginable,’ said Cook, ‘but California’s action underscores the urgency of addressing the crisis.’”
8) Georgia: The state’s new restrictive voting law has been hit with a lawsuit. “The 35-page complaint filed in federal court in Atlanta alleges that minority voters will be hit especially hard by the new legislation, which plaintiffs say illegally suppresses voters’ rights in violation of constitutional protections and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. According to the lawsuit, the new restrictions are ‘clearly intended to and will have the effect of making it harder for lawful Georgia voters to participate in the State’s elections,’ adding that the measure will impose ‘unjustifiable burdens’ that disproportionately impact people of color, as well as young, poor and disabled voters.”
CNN reports that “Nsé Ufot, CEO of The New Georgia Project—one of the groups challenging the new law on the grounds that it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments—told CNN Saturday that ‘we absolutely are going to court to make sure that this bill in Georgia is invalidated.’ ‘I have no idea how long the battle takes. I would like for it to be quick. But we will see what the judge has to say about this,’ she said on ‘Newsroom.’ Ufot rejected the governor’s argument that the legislation is an election security bill and argued that the only reason Republicans are seeking to curtail mail-in voting is because ‘they lost.’”
9) Think Tanks: The American Prospect has a continually updated webpage that tracks executive action, “giving you comprehensive information about which executive actions Biden has—or has not—taken. Take a look, and keep coming back to check out the latest. If you have a tip on any executive actions, you can email us at EAT@prospect.org.”
10) Songs for the Common Good: The next concert will be on April 10 and will feature Diana Jones. There’s a lot you can read about Diana in this 2009 NYT profile. But you’ll get even more if you buy a ticket and hang out with us on April 10. (no charge if unemployed.)
11) National: “I believed the charter school myth—until I learned about the reality and who was behind it,” writes Florina Rodov, a former public and charter school teacher. “The good news is that stories that are critical of charter schools are seeping into mainstream media. The New York Daily News covered former students, teachers and parents at Success Academy using social media to expose stories of racism in the wake of George Floyd’s killing last year, including a white assistant principal erecting a bulletin board of effigies of Black bodies hanging upside down from a tree. The New York Times revealed that charter schools tapped pandemic relief funds meant for small businesses (after the Network for Public Education reported it first). And, when the funding for Education Matters at the Los Angeles Times ran out in 2017, the Times published a series on charter school fraud, including how a couple made millions by working loose laws.”
12) National: The pain continues from private, for-profit colleges, The New York Times reports. “Kashia Campbell earned top grades from her patient care technician program at Florida Career College. So she was shocked to find that, upon graduation, she was blocked from the exam to get certified in the field. The problem was a $6,500 private loan she had taken out from the college to help her cover tuition. Florida Career College demanded that she pay more of her loan before it would release her transcript, something she said she had not been told previously. The transcript was a prerequisite for the certification exam, and she ended up in a lower-paying job earning $10 an hour. Four years later, she can pay only $50 a month on her school loan.”
13) Montana: Judy McKenna of Bozeman is standing up against a bill that she says would enable private interests to loot public schools in Montana. “How can 57 Republican legislators support a bill to privatize schools in Montana, House Bill 329? They agree with this bill, requested by the Governor, who has a big stake in an exclusive private school, and would benefit from school privatization. Montana will become a regulatory nightmare if this bill passes, especially with regard to the education of our children. This bill is likely unconstitutional. (…) The fact is this bill will take $180 million out of the state’s public education budget, and that money will need to be cut from your local public school. In addition, can we trust the current superintendent of public instruction to regulate private schools, as she is a strong proponent of private schools while, ironically, in charge as the leader of public schools in the state? Urge your legislative representatives vote against HB 329. Our children deserve good public schools.”
14) International: The Moroccan government has staged a violent crackdown on teachers protesting being forced to remain contract workers instead of becoming full time professionals. “The teachers were protesting conditions of temporary fixed-term contracts under which tens of thousands have been hired since 2016. Under the terms of these contracts, educators have lower pensions, less job security and are not able to obtain positions at schools in other regions around the country. Prior to 2016, educators were hired as public servants under the national education ministry. Teachers have warned that the aim of these measures is to end the public education system in Morocco.”
15) National: Will the Biden infrastructure initiative work to promote affordable or free access to broadband, or become a cash cow for private providers and infrastructure investors? Roll Call reports that “several coronavirus-related aid packages that Congress passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic included money for broadband, but not on the scale that Democrats are eyeing for the upcoming package. Last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said broadband would be among the priorities for the upcoming infrastructure package, which she called ‘big, bold and transformational.’ Right on cue, all 32 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee proposed a far-reaching infrastructure measure that would authorize more than $109 billion to expand broadband access throughout the country in an effort to close what’s become known as ‘the digital divide,’ the gap between those who can access the internet at home and those who cannot.
The digital divide breaks sharply along racial lines. S. Derek Turner has produced a research paper on this for Freepress.
16) National: After a few days of excitement in the privatization industry, the Biden administration has knocked down the idea that the infrastructure package will include a vehicle mileage tax. The excitement had been spurred by a comment from Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg (a former McKinsey consultant) that the tax “shows a lot of promise.” Buttigieg subsequently got “roasted from all directions” for the proposal, The Week reported. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-OR, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR have poured cold water on the idea. The Republican proposal has been around for a long time and has been pushed by right wing think t anks partially funded by the Koch network.
17) Florida: The Grand Jury empaneled to look into Jacksonville’s JEA electrical utility privatization scandal has begun hearing from subpoenaed witnesses. Jacksonville.com reports that “the appearance Thursday of witnesses came during a recent spate of activity during which prosecutors sent numerous subpoenas for witness testimony across the city, which suggests they are moving a case forward. All three men—former CEO Paul McElroy, former board member Husein Cumber and Mike Brost, former vice president of the agency’s electric business—had left JEA before ex-CEO Aaron Zahn and his executive team launched a controversial and unsuccessful campaign to privatize the city-owned utility in the summer of 2019. But they have insight into JEA’s financial and operational workings in the years just before Zahn’s arrival. McElroy, who was brought back as in interim leader after Zahn was fired, also had time to scrutinize JEA’s operations in the months after the controversial privatization effort.”
Nate Monroe reports that “after news broke of McElroy’s appearance at the courthouse Thursday, City Council member Rory Diamond—who for a time headed a special council investigative committee that probed JEA’s privatization efforts—tweeted that he would ‘bet on indictment(s) of former JEA exec(s) this year.’ ‘Strong and clear case of a billion dollar scheme to defraud, in my opinion,’ he said. ‘If JEA had accepted the $11 billion offer from the highest bidder, NextEra, which is the parent company of Florida Power & Light, the plan would have generated about $1 billion in bonus money to divvy up.’”
18) Illinois: State Senator John Connor (D-Lockport) and AFSCME have teamed up to support legislation requiring any municipality seeking to privatize its water company to first obtain approval from voters. “‘There are communities right now in Illinois who have been fighting to get back control of their water systems from private companies, and they’re not winning on behalf of their citizens,’ Connor said. ‘Illinois private water companies are seeing record profits as a result of legislation that opened an express lane up for them to acquire public water systems from towns and villages.’ Currently, only a public meeting and publication of the terms of acquisition are required in order for water companies to be privatized. SB 164 aims to change that by requiring that a vote must be held among citizens before their city or village sells a public water system to a private company.”
19) Maryland: Infrastructure Investor is apparently attempting to drum up support for the Beltway/I-270 toll lanes so-called public-private partnership by touting the news that “the lead developers—toll road developer Transurban and Macquarie Capital—had chosen Cavnue, a transportation technology startup, alongside the innovative transit company Via, to help ‘build a future-ready road,’ according to a press statement…
“Cavnue, which was founded by the tech-focused and Alphabet-sponsored Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, made its first splash in the transportation industry last August, when Michigan’s government picked the company to serve as master developer of a 40-mile “first-of-its-kind corridor for connected and autonomous vehicles”, according to a statement released at that time. Fast-forward six months and the infrastructure newcomer now finds itself on a development team with a couple of industry heavyweights and involved in the first phase of a project estimated to cost around $4 billion, and part of an overall development that could total $9 billion in value.” [Sub required]
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, recently had to abandon a futuristic high tech infrastructure project in Toronto undertaken by Sidewalk Labs, from which Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners is a spinoff. “The stated reason was the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on real estate prices. Without the ability to profitably sell office space and homes in the development, the project wasn’t viable, Sidewalk Labs Chief Executive Officer Dan Doctoroff said in a blog post. But even before the virus swept over the world, Sidewalk’s Toronto ambitions had been scaled back significantly. Years of opposition from privacy activists and urbanists, as well as pushback from prominent members of Canada’s tech industry had relegated Alphabet to a 12-acre plot of land that would essentially only have room for a handful of residential and commercial buildings.
“Sidewalk Labs’ failure signals how much attitudes toward big technology companies and their influence over our lives has shifted in recent years. If a company like Alphabet, with its talent and resources, can’t pull off such a project, it’s not clear anyone can. ‘I would like to think this is the defeat of the privately owned city,’ said Greg Lindsay of NewCities, an urban policy think tank, and a visiting scholar at NYU’s transportation policy school.”
20) Pennsylvania: The York City Sewer Authority Board has approved the $235 million selloff of the city’s wastewater treatment system to Pennsylvania American Water. The proposal now goes to the York City Council for approval or rejection. If the proposal is approved it would then go to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to decide if the company can purchase the public wastewater system. “The four-member sewer authority board voted 3-1 in favor of the asset purchase agreement, with Chairperson Phil Briddell voting against it. ‘There’s lots of reasons, one of which is that this is a forever situation, and I personally had a tough time with letting go of the local control of the plant operation,’ Briddell said. ‘It was truly a community resource. And I felt that part of it had legitimately not been fully explored.’”
But there’s a snag. “‘One of the selling points of the planned privatization of York City’s wastewater treatment system was a pledge from the potential buyer not to raise rates for three years. But that promise only applies to city residents—not to the municipal users who have criticized the sale and plan a protest to state regulators. That distinction wasn’t always clear, however. (…) ‘It’s completely unfair in our opinion,’ said Kelly Kelch, West Manchester Township’s manager and a spokesperson for the regional authority. ‘There’s only so many times we can say it.’”
21) Puerto Rico: Gov. Pedro Pierluisi may declare a State of Emergency for Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. “Its goal is for ‘priority’ projects to go through an expedited process when it comes to receiving permits and meeting government requirements. ‘That is the basis for the emergency declaration. The projects that the council identified as critical or priority projects will be eligible for expedited permits. This does not mean that environmental compliance will be omitted, but there are fixed periods that are established to comply with the permits,’ [State Secretary-designate Larry Seilhamer] said. ‘That is one of the obstacles: bureaucracy and slowness. Here, some criteria are established so that these permits can be addressed.’”
22) International: Multi-sectoral groups, including the Alliance of Government Workers in the Water Sector (Agwwas), are calling on the government to stop the privatization of water utilities in the Philippines. “Agwwas president Abigail Almeria said another way to end privatization is to conduct an education campaign among the consumers. Almeria said if the public would be made aware of the negative impact of privatization, which usually brings a negative factor in terms of pricing, the system of privatization would eventually end. As the House of Representatives is conducting an investigation on the privatization of water utilities in the country, the Agwwas and multi-sectoral group representatives hope that the investigation would result to the change of the policy, declaring the prohibition of privatization in the water sector.”
23) International: “The Trudeau government has come up with a particularly sneaky way to deliver corporate welfare—through its Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).” says Linda McQuaig the author, journalist, and former NDP candidate for Toronto Centre in the Canadian federal election. “This little-known business boondoggle is about to get much richer—billions of dollars richer—as Ottawa gears up for a binge of post-COVID spending to build infrastructure across the country, financed by its new bank. Of course, municipalities badly need new infrastructure so the bank, endowed with $35 billion in public money to help finance infrastructure, should be a godsend. But it isn’t—except for business and investors. That’s because of the business-friendly way the Trudeau government designed the bank. Municipalities that want the bank’s financial support for an infrastructure project must ‘partner’ with a private business.”
24) National: The Shut Down Adelanto coalition reports that “after seven months of investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final report and an official Notice of Warning to the GEO Group (GEO) for multiple violations in response to their misuse of the toxic pesticide HDQ Neutral inside the Adelanto Detention Facility (Adelanto). The EPA investigation found that GEO, the private prison company that runs Adelanto and over 30 other ICE detention facilities across the U.S., ordered GEO staff and those in custody to administer HDQ Neutral without proper ventilation, multiple times a day. Ingredients found in HDQ Neutral have been linked to asthma, infertility, birth defects, and other respiratory and reproductive harms. One of the active ingredients in HDQ Neutral can even damage human DNA.”
25) National: Grassroots Leadership and the Texas Law Immigration Clinic has released a report detailing why the federal government must close T. Don Hutto. “Despite repeated reports of abuse, substandard conditions, and community opposition, ICE continues to contract with CoreCivic to keep Hutto open. CoreCivic and its many subcontractors record substantial profits while the women detained at the facility suffer the results of the companies’ cost-cutting measures—and ultimately it is the public that pays for this secretive arrangement. Researchers note that the only appropriate response the federal government must take is to close down Hutto for good and develop humane community-based alternatives to immigration detention.”
26) National: The for-profit prison industry has taken a hammering from the ratings agencies. “On Wednesday, S&P Global Ratings lowered its credit ratings on Geo Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc.—the nation’s largest operators of private detention facilities — citing growing questions about the outlook for the companies’ profits and concerns over their ability to refinance debt. A few hours later, Moody’s Investors Service took similar actions on both companies. (…) ‘The controversial topic of human rights, combined with evolving public sentiment and policy views on criminal justice reform, expose privately operated criminal detention facilities operators to ongoing social and governance risks,’ S&P said in a report.”
27) National: David Dayen of the American Prospect says “we wrote about the federal contract to eliminate physical mail at prisons. Not only is the company surveilling incarcerated people through the system, but the people who send the cards and letters, too.” Writing in Vice, Aaron Gordon reports ‘investigators will have access to the postal mail sender’s Email address, physical address, IP Address, mobile cell number, GEO GPS location tracking, exact devices used when accessing system [sic], any related accounts the sender may also make or use,’ Smart Communications said in a proposal for VA DOC. The proposal and other documents were obtained through a public records request.”
28) National: In Tacoma, an ICE detainee’s hunger strike has exceeded 100 days according to Real Change. ICE has denied the presence of any hunger strikes at their facility. “The controversy between claims comes in part from differing definitions of what qualifies as a hunger strike. For ICE to qualify a detainee’s refusal to eat as a hunger strike, the detainee must refuse to eat for a period of at least 72 hours, according to ICE’s hunger strike protocols. If the detainee eats anything, the clock starts over. Lilly Fowler, a reporter for Crosscut who talked to Fonseca in January, said he was at that time still eating a little bit each day.”
29) Pennsylvania: A financial analysis of deprivatizing the George W. Hill Correctional Facility will be presented Thursday. “The board hired CGL Companies in December to oversee the transition to county operations and included in that was the financial analysis of pursuing such a transition. [The meeting will be livestreamed here]. The public can submit questions to JOB@co.delaware.pa.us or by calling 610-891-4931 as long as they include their name and address.”
30) National: Robert Fellmeth and Sandy Santana say the privatization of foster care has been a disaster for children. “‘This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration,’ Biden said, explaining the order. We commend the administration for this move. But there is another abusive system where corporations may profit from and victimize vulnerable people: foster care for children. Twenty-eight states allow some degree of for-profit contracting of foster care services. The private companies that make money off foster children would have us believe that they are providing quality service at affordable rates—as is often the selling point of privatization made to the general public. But evidence has shown that some of these for-profit services are rife with mismanagement and abuse.”
31) National: Andrea Noble of Route Fifty reports “it could be weeks before state and local jurisdictions begin receiving payments from the federal government as part of a $350 billion direct aid program included in the massive coronavirus relief bill passed this month.” But Eryn Hurley, associate legislative director at the National Association of Counties, says “we have not heard major concerns about that timeline and how those funds will be administered.”
However, writing in Labor Notes, Mark Brenner wonders whether job losses are on the horizon. “State shortfalls over the next two years could be as high as $300 billion, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. And cities face a $90 billion gap this year alone, the National League of Cities reported in February.”
32) National: Meet Christine Juedeman, 49th Wing privatized housing resident advocate, at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. “The resident advocate acts as a liaison between privatized housing residents, the military housing office, Wing leadership and Soaring Heights for housing issues affecting the health, safety and security of residents.”
33) Alaska: A plan to privatize DMV offices gets a cool reception, reports KNBA. “Even urban lawmakers seized on this as an unfair cost-shifting onto rural Alaska without any price controls. ‘I’m troubled with the notion that a contractor in Haines or Tok or other places could basically charge whatever the market bears and charge a whole lot more than whatever happened in Anchorage,’ Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) said. Rep. George Rauscher (R-Sutton) whose district covers a swathe of Interior Alaska mostly north of the Glenn Highway says the state needs to consider the repercussions. ‘Rural areas are going to take the hurt more than then non rural areas—and that’s a fact,’ he said.”
34) Colorado: Yet another attempt to privatize the Pinnacol Assurance state workers compensation fund has failed. “H.B. 1213, which was introduced in early March, died in the House committee on state, civic, military and veterans affairs in a 10-1 vote to postpone the bill indefinitely.”
35) New York: Fears about public housing privatization are mounting. “For residents of north Bronx complexes such as Twin Parks East, Parkside Houses and the Bronx River Houses, NYCHA’s Blueprint for Change is a key concern. The program converts NYCHA developments to privately managed Section 8 housing, a change that some residents and advocates say will lead government to abandon its public-housing responsibilities.”
36) Washington: Wastedive reports on a city that is insourcing its waste operations. “Almost 15 years into a 20-year arrangement with Waste Connections, the city of Port Angeles, Washington, moved to cancel its contract at a March 16 council meeting. As soon as this fall, the city plans to take over operations of its transfer station, residential recycling collection routes, and other services—as well as negotiate new post-collection arrangements for processing and disposal. This will mean filling 12 new full-time equivalent positions and possibly spending as much as $2.5 million on new equipment in the first year. Beyond these upfront costs, elected officials and staff described it as a way to ensure long-term rate stability for residents.”
37) International: There is concern over how mobile mental health services will be run on Prince Edward Island. “During question period on Wednesday, Green MLA Trish Altass raised several questions about the lack of consultation with three Island unions – CUPE 3324 representing P.E.I. paramedics, the P.E.I. Nurses Union and the Union of Public Sector Employees, which represents some Health P.E.I staff. Two of these unions have said placing Medavie in a management role of the service constitutes a privatization of a health service.” The Premier has agreed to consult the unions.
38) International: Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, reports that greed drove big pharma companies to privatize vaccines developed with public resources. “‘The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed my friends,’ Boris Johnson reportedly told Conservative MPs, before pleading ‘forget I said that.’ The timing of the comments was distasteful in the extreme as countries across the world are struggling to find any vaccines, while Britain has acquired several times the doses it needs by bypassing the international bodies meant to ensure a fair global allocation. But more worrying was the warped understanding revealed by the remark of what is actually behind Britain’s successful vaccine rollout.”
39) National: Musicians are in peril, at the mercy of giant monopolies that profit off their work, writes David Dayen. “This radical upending of the industry’s business model has benefited a few stars, while the middle-income artist, like so much of the middle class in America, struggles to survive. The ubiquity of digital recording tools and social media masks this pain; it feels like music is as vibrant as ever. It’s hard to discern an artist’s suffering, until they’re gone.”
40) National: What’s going on with corporate disclosure of pay ratios between executives and frontline workers, e.g. in their annual reports? It has been undermined by corporate lobbyists.
“In doing so, they show how corporations can work with regulators to fundamentally refashion a law passed by Congress,” says the Washington Post. “The measure was immediately attacked by lobbyists representing associations of big companies. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups argued that calculating median pay would be onerous for companies, especially those with global workforces, and its costs would outweigh any possible benefits. Enacting it, they said, would cost corporate America hundreds of millions of dollars. At the core of the opponents’ lobbying effort was the Center on Executive Compensation, a division of the HR Policy Association, which represents more than 300 companies, most of them in the Fortune 500. Its directors include executives from major U.S. companies with familiar names—Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Caterpillar, Marriott, General Electric and many others. The association lobbies Congress on a variety of employment issues and researches best practices; its budget runs about $10 million a year.”
Photo by Lisa Padilla.