Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

PRIVATIZING FOR PROFIT


While recently on the road I picked up a copy of the Washington Post and read an article in the business section that got my attention. The headline read “Infrastructure: A Road to Riches?” It is a story about how big corporations are now buying up the roads, bridges, water systems, and other public infrastructure in the U.S.

For the next 75 years, more than 150 miles of Interstate 80 running through Indiana, will be run by Spanish and Australian corporations that will collect the tolls, operate the pit stops, do highway repairs, and make a profit.

Near Washington DC, the Dulles Greenway was bought for $533 million by the same two foreign firms. They also have taken over the Chicago Skyway.

The Carlyle Group, known as a Bush family controlled entity that specializes in weapons and war, recently created an entity to get into roads, bridges and the like. They are using their excess profits from war making to begin to buy up the everything else.

Goldman Sachs & Co, which made $9 million advising Chicago on the Skyway sale, will collect $20 million in fees for engineering the Indiana Toll Road sale. Wall Street knows there is money to be made by getting into infrastructure. Stock and bond investors who put up the capital will make profits too. Who will lose on these deals?

The public will. Privatized toll road workers and maintenance crews will make less money than public employees doing similar work. Private managers though will likely draw higher salaries than government managers would get. Prices on toll roads will increase and there will be little political leverage to keep these private corporations from fleecing us.

If England is any example, we can expect more costs for the average person and less service. When Maggie Thatcher privatized the once revered British rail system it was broken into bits and sold out to various companies. Service got worse and maintenance of the system declined. Profits increased for the corporations and railway fares increased for the public.

This is just one more sign that we are returning the industrial world to a form of feudalism – the 21st century variety. Government’s role is being reshaped to ensure that the rich will be protected by government rather than the other way around. This will sour the public on government, meaning less people will participate in the electoral system making it even easier for the rich to control the levers of power. With that control in place we will see greater use of tax dollars to create a militarized society where the power of the “state” is used to suppress opposition to feudal control. The military will grow in power and influence as it will be used to keep the boot on the necks of people worldwide as the corporations grab resources like oil and water and extract even more concessions from labor.

I had an e-mail from a woman who works with a Global Network affiliated group in Australia this morning. She described this same situation to me as it is happening in her country. She said, “We are right back in the early 20th century as far as human rights, industrial rights, involvement in war, weapons production, eagerness to set up nuclear power stations, eagerness to open more uranium mines and sell it, willy-nilly - to anyone who'll buy it . . . Makes me weep when I think of how my grandfather, my mother, and so many of their and my generations gave their whole lives to gradually making things a little better and a little better -- and it's all swept away by this bastard government we've got.”

The reality of our times is corporate consolidation globally. We have two choices. We can go along with it or we can resist it. In order to resist it we must expand our working relationships with groups around the planet. We now have to connect our local issues with the larger international picture. We have to see ourselves as part of a larger international anti-corporate movement.

We have to clearly see that the governing political parties in our countries are now under the control of the multi-national corporations. We have to quit thinking that we can “influence” the Dems or the Repubs in the U.S. or their facsimiles around the world. The time has come for “independence day” from these corporate powers.

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