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This series from Talking Points Memo, by Donald Cohen of In the Public Interest, explores privatization and the history of political attacks on government.

How an Ideological and Political Attack on Government Became a Corporate Grab for Gold

Today, after 50 years of attack on government, privatization is a standard conservative response to tight public budgets, a key pillar of attacks on government, and a lucrative market opportunity for domestic and global corporations. Large corporations operate virtually every type of public service including prisons, welfare systems, infrastructure, water and sewer, trash, and schools.

For example:

  • Private prisons didn’t exist thirty years ago. Today, publicly traded, billion-dollar corporations are key players in prisons and immigrant detention. Privatized immigration facilities now house over two-thirds of all detained immigrants.
  • In 1988 AFT president Al Shanker proposed a new idea: To create charter schools where teachers could experiment and innovate and bring new ideas to the nation’s public schools. Today, nearly 3 million children attend charters, and large corporate chains and billionaires are funding the rapid growth of privatized, publicly funded charters.
  • Former defense contractors, IT corporations, and publicly traded corporations are running welfare, food assistance, and other safety net systems in many states across the country.
  • Today the federal government employs more than three times as many contract workers as government workers, and state and local governments spend a combined $1.5 trillion on outsourcing.
  • Across the country, a well-established network of conservative think tanks, industry associations, investors and corporate lobbyists – The State Policy Network, ALEC, and others – are on the front lines developing privatization legislation and proposing privatization projects.

Read the full series here.

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