The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back

Donald Cohen and Allen Mikaelian. New Press, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62097-653-1
Cohen, founder of the nonprofit In the Public Interest, and Mikaelian (coauthor, Medal of Honor) contend in this impassioned and well-informed cri de coeur that the decades-long trend of privatizing public services in the U.S. has been a disaster for the average citizen. Examining infrastructure, criminal justice, education, and public health, among other fields, the authors cite numerous examples of private businesses making extraordinary profits by overcharging for much-needed services and reducing or outright eliminating programs. In case after case, decisions made by local, state, and federal officials for short-term financial or political gain have not played out as predicted. For instance, Chicago’s 2008 decision to grant Morgan Stanley a 75-year lease on its parking meters for $1.16 billion proved costly when the company turned a $500 million profit after only 11 years. As part of the contract, Chicago also agreed to indemnify Morgan Stanley for public works initiatives (bike lanes, housing developments, etc.) that might reduce parking revenue. In Apple Valley, Calif., the authors note, the town’s private water supplier charged higher rates to residents who used less water during a drought. Cohen and Mikaelian also cite a handful of cases where voters took back control of privatized services, and offer a step-by-step guide to waging such a campaign. The result is a persuasive takedown of the idea that the private sector knows best. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/17/2021
Release date: 11/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-62097-662-3
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