privatization

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I Read it in the Post

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 5:40am in

Democrats have hammered home that putting Barrett on the court at this moment is an extraordinary power grab, and voters seem to agree. Turning attention away from the hearings would be useful for the Republicans when voters are on their way to the polls. Continue reading

The post I Read it in the <i>Post</i> appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

IMF Seizes on Pandemic to Pave Way for Privatization in 81 Countries

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 3:43am in

The enormous economic dislocation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to fundamentally alter the structure of society, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if using the crisis to implement near-permanent austerity measures across the world.

76 of the 91 loans it has negotiated with 81 nations since the beginning of the worldwide pandemic in March have come attached with demands that countries adopt measures such as deep cuts to public services and pensions — measures that will undoubtedly entail privatization, wage freezes or cuts, or the firing of public sector workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters.

The principal cheerleader for neoliberal austerity measures across the globe for decades, the IMF has recently (quietly) begun admitting that these policies have not worked and generally make problems like poverty, uneven development, and inequality even worse. Furthermore, they have also failed even to bring the promised economic growth that was meant to counteract these negative effects. In 2016, it described its own policies as “oversold” and earlier summed up its experiments in Latin America as “all pain, no gain.” Thus, its own reports explicitly state its policies do not work.

“The IMF has sounded the alarm about a massive spike in inequality in the wake of the pandemic. Yet it is steering countries to pay for pandemic spending by making austerity cuts that will fuel poverty and inequality,” Chema Vera, Interim Executive Director of Oxfam International, said today.

These measures could leave millions of people without access to healthcare or income support while they search for work, and could thwart any hope of sustainable recovery. In taking this approach, the IMF is doing an injustice to its own research. Its head needs to start speaking to its hands.”

Oxfam has identified at least 14 countries that it expects will imminently freeze or cut public sector wages and jobs. Tunisia, for example, has only 13 doctors per 10,000 people. Any cuts to its already scant healthcare system would cripple it in its fight against the coronavirus. “If people can’t afford testing and care for COVID-19 and other health needs, the virus will continue to spread unchecked and more people will die. Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses were a tragedy before the pandemic, and now they are a death sentence,” Vera added.

 

An IMF case study

Ecuador is a perfect example of the consequences of IMF actions. Previously ruled by the radical administration of Rafael Correa, who made poverty reduction a priority, condemned the IMF and its sister organization the World Bank, and gave asylum to Western dissidents like Julian Assange, the country has been ruled by Lenin Moreno since 2017. Moreno immediately began unpicking Correa’s legacy, even attempting to prosecute him. In 2019, on orders from the IMF, Moreno slashed the country’s health budget by 36 percent in exchange for a $4.2 billion loan from the IMF, a move which provoked massive, nationwide protests that threatened to derail his administration.

The results were near-apocalyptic, as the country’s largest city, Guayaquil, became the worldwide hotspot for coronavirus, with bodies left to rot in the streets for days as services were overwhelmed. The city suffered more deaths than New York City at its height, and with far less infrastructure to deal with the problem. While the official number of cases in the country is low, the death rate has been among the highest in the world, suggesting that services have been completely overwhelmed.

Earlier this month, Moreno announced a new $6.5 billion deal with the IMF, who has advised his government to backtrack on emergency increases in health spending, stop cash transfers to those unable to work due to the virus and to cut fuel subsidies for the poor.

 

In crisis, opportunity

The IMF also directly interferes with the internal politics of sovereign nations. In March, it refused to lend to the Venezuelan government because of the “lack of clarity” about who was in charge, suggesting that the democratically-elected Nicolas Maduro would have to step down before they would consider lending to the country. At the same time, however, self-declared president and opposition figure Juan Guaidó announced that he had secured a $1.2 billion commitment from the organization on the proviso that Maduro resigns and allow an “emergency government” to take control of the country. A poll taken in the same month by a sympathetic pollster found that only three percent of Venezuelans backed Guaidó.

In crisis, there is always opportunity. For many, the pandemic is an opportunity to reorient the economy away from mass consumption and towards a more ecologically sustainable system. For the IMF, however, it is being used to push through more privatizations and austerity measures that invariably enrich the wealthy and weaken the poor and the powerless. It appears that, if the organization has its way, that it will be the poor who pay for the pandemic, while the rich prosper.

Feature photo | A demonstrator holds a banner against International Monetary Fund during a protest in Quito, Ecuador, May 18, 2020. Photo | Dolores Ochoa. Editing by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post IMF Seizes on Pandemic to Pave Way for Privatization in 81 Countries appeared first on MintPress News.

Burning Injustice: Why the California Wildfires Are a Class Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 4:06pm in

The rich paid for protection from wildfires while the poor burned. A harbinger of the class divide in coming climate disasters?

Yanis Varoufakis: How Progressives Could Still Win the 21st Century

Could progressives obtain power through a Progressive International movement?

Flint-Linked Veolia Merger Brings Water Privatization Closer to “Global Reality”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 4:46am in

Veolia, one of the world’s largest private water corporations, has just announced the acquisition of 29.9 percent of Suez Water, another of the planet’s largest multinationals, with a plan to gain full control at a later date.

Based in France, Veolia already employs nearly 100,000 people worldwide, and this deal is set to greatly expand that. In order to get around French anti-monopoly laws, Suez will continue to operate in France, but Veolia will take over its operations around the world, including in the United States.

The company’s CEO, Antoine Frérot, has presented the move as a triumph for the environment. “I am very happy to lay the foundation stone in France today for a world super champion of the ecological transformation,” he said, adding that this was a “wonderful opportunity” for both investors and the planet.

Others were not so sure this takeover was such a positive move. Activist group Food and Water Watch decried the deal. “Veolia’s global domination of public water services is becoming a terrifying reality,” wrote its Public Water for All Campaign Director Mary Grant, warning of a host of negative consequences for humanity at large.

The merger of the world’s largest water corporations will erode any semblance of competition for water privatization deals. This lack of competition will lead to unaffordable costs for families, slack maintenance and safety procedures, loss of union jobs, and potentially rampant corruption. Water privatization has been a disaster for communities across the United States and around the world.”

 

“Lead seems to be a problem, do not pass this on”

The water and waste management firm is perhaps best known in the United States in connection to the Flint water crisis (2014-present), where it was employed in a number of lucrative roles by the city. While much of the public outrage has been directed at local and national officials, many in Flint blame Veolia for its alleged reckless disregard for their lives. In 2016, Michigan residents sued the company, accusing it of professional negligence, a charge Veolia called “outrageous,” claiming that people are “trying to create a corporate villain where one does not exist.”

However, last year, leaked email exchanges show that senior employees knew about the dangerous levels of lead and other carcinogens in the water but did not go public with the information. As a result, months passed before the city was forced to admit there was a deadly problem. The emails, published by The Guardian, are explicit, with officials communicating that “lead seems to be a problem” and instructing others, “do not pass this [information] on.”

In general, allowing private corporations to control water supplies has not been beneficial for local populations. For example, in the United Kingdom, water was privatized in 1989, with the cost of water to the consumer increasing at 40 percent above inflation ever since. Shareholders received $17.5 billion in dividends between 2010 and 2019, but the companies refuse to plug leaks that spill over 650 million gallons every year. As a result, the United Kingdom — a notoriously wet collection of islands — is facing a water shortage by 2045.

In 1997 the World Bank strong-armed Bolivia into privatizing its water system as a condition of a loan agreement. Almost overnight, prices soared. A water and sewer connection for a single household cost $445 in El Alto, where many residents earned less than $2 per day. Nevertheless, private companies managed to get the government to pass laws banning the collection of rainwater. The result was mass thirst, and anger that spilled over into the streets and set the tone for two decades of radical politics in the country, especially after U.S. corporation Bechtel sued the country for $25 million for canceling its municipal contract with them.

The United Nations recognizes the right to water and sanitation as a fundamental human right. Yet when the profit motive is injected into the equation, and it is treated as a commodity to be bought and sold, those without the ability to pay often miss out. Food and Water watch categorically warns against privatization.

“As the fiscal realities of the COVID crisis begin to set in for struggling municipalities, some may consider selling off their valuable water systems as a short-term solution. But this would create long-term harm. Communities must revert all privatized water and sewer systems to public control to ensure safety and affordability for all,” Grant added.

Feature photo | A student gets water from a cooler in the hallway at Gardner Elementary School in Detroit, Sept. 4, 2018, due to elevated lead levels in public water. Paul Sancya | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Flint-Linked Veolia Merger Brings Water Privatization Closer to “Global Reality” appeared first on MintPress News.

As of September 29, 2020, 5 Federal Courts Have Ruled Against the Postal Service

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 11:55pm in

The Postal Service is getting whacked for service degradation that critics believe has a lot to do with upcoming voting by mail.

Mexico to Renationalize Oil Next Year If Current Laws Fail to Save Reeling PEMEX

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 26/09/2020 - 6:32am in

Faced with thousands of conservative opposition demonstrators camping out in the streets of Mexico City since he took office, the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is under renewed pressure to come up with a strategy to address the nation’s tottering energy sector, which has reached a critical juncture in the historic and controversial privatization carried out by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, which marked the ostensible end to a central tenet of modern-day Mexican self-determination and reintroduced foreign and U.S. oil interests into the core of Mexico’s socio-economic development.

Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), once a bastion of Mexican national sovereignty, threatens to become an “incurable cancer,” according to Bank of Mexico’s deputy governor, Jonathan Heath, as the ‘liberalized’ state oil company tops the list of the world’s most indebted, with a balance owed in excess of $100 Billion.

On Thursday, AMLO announced his intention to reverse Peña Nieto’s energy reform bill if he is unable to find structural solutions to the company’s severe financial problems, which have been further complicated by the downgrading of its stock to junk status in April of this year by credit rating agencies Moody’s and Fitch, triggering billions of dollars worth of bond sell-offs.

 

COVID economy

Mexico’s financial outlook has dimmed considerably due to the confluence of the energy company’s problems and the internationally-imposed COVID-19 economic lockdown protocols. AMLO has blamed foreign oil interests for constricting his plans to use PEMEX as a springboard to correcting the nation’s economic woes and, in 2018, suspended all international oil auctions for three years after successful bidders failed to actually invest in oil exploration or production.

Mr. Heath, who was appointed by Obrador to head Banxico, the country’s national bank, came to assume the role after serving as chief Latin American economist for HSBC; a bank deeply embroiled in laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels.  According to him, if AMLO doesn’t limit the company’s tax obligations, it will eventually affect Mexico’s sovereign rating because a full 14% of GDP is contingent on PEMEX’s production.

AMLO first hinted at the prospect of re-nationalizing Mexico’s oil industry in August and doubled down on the idea during Thursday’s press conference, as well as leaving open the possibility of refinancing the energy sector’s enormous debt. In June, Obrador vowed to boost capacity at the country’s six refineries in order to achieve gasoline independence by 2023.

“López Obrador has the potential to be one of the best presidents,” Heath claimed in a 2018 interview. He also “has the potential to be one of the worst…,” Heath told the Financial Times. In May, the head of Banxico characterized AMLO’s approach to the country’s economic crisis as swapping one problem for another, referring to AMLO’s decision to avoid debt as a mechanism to escape the economic problems brought on by the pandemic and the energy sector’s systemic issues. “Instead of having a short recession and then an immense headache with an unplayable debt,” Heath observed, “[AMLO] is betting on having a more profound and complicated recession, but once we are out, we will not have the same headache that other countries will have.”

 

Historical returns

The history of how PEMEX came into existence and its significance in the geopolitical landscape between the U.S. and Mexico, in particular, cannot be overstated. In the throes of one of the world’s bloodiest revolutions at the turn of the twentieth century, foreign oil companies and their respective governments were intervening directly in the pivotal conflict more than a hundred years ago.

British, German, and American firms were fighting amongst each other to control the country’s oil and were contributing to the turmoil by financing the different factions vying for control of a nascent political system. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the conservative party that emerged out of that war and that would rule uninterrupted for the next seven decades, hinged nearly all of its power on the nationalization of the country’s oil, which served to not only to eject the deleterious influence of the burgeoning foreign energy cartels from Mexico but also to forge a national identity.

As the world undergoes a transformation on par with the one that marked the beginning of Western hegemony in the twentieth century, Mexico, once again stands at the threshold of a pivotal course of action that will determine if the nation survives into the second half of the twenty-first century.

Feature photo | Striking workers from Mexico’s state oil company, PEMEX, stand next to their encampment outside the National Palace in Mexico City, Sept. 15, 2020. Rebecca Blackwell | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Mexico to Renationalize Oil Next Year If Current Laws Fail to Save Reeling PEMEX appeared first on MintPress News.

“Quick, Look Over There”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 23/09/2020 - 3:30am in

Trump and his loyalists would likely prefer people not to notice that his poll numbers continue to be bad. For him to convince people that a loss for him means the election has been stolen, he has to make people think he is running more strongly than he is. The administration is trying to deflect attention from the pandemic, financial crime reports and poll numbers. Continue reading

The post “Quick, Look Over There” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

How Centrist Democrats Paved the Way for Betsy DeVos

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 10:15pm in

A consensus between Republicans and centrist Democrats around charter schools has been at the very center of education policy for the past three decades. Guest David Menefee-Libey joins us to talk about the formation of the charter school “treaty,” why it unraveled and what happens next. 

Complete transcript of the episode is here. The financial support of listeners like you keeps this podcast going. Subscribe on Patreon or donate on PayPal.

Jennifer and Jack’s forthcoming book A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School, is now available for preorder!

Have You Heard · #97 How Centrist Democrats Paved the Way for Betsy DeVos

The United States Post Office is in Trouble

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 1:00am in

Photo credit: Trevor Bexon / Shutterstock.com_____ As I turn onto the northbound entrance for the New Jersey Parkway and speed...

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