Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 26th, 2013

Vital public services Not to be Privatized: Failure is the norm

8 Ways Privatization Has Failed America: Health Care, Water, (Internet, TV, and Phone), Transportation, Banking, Education, and Consumer Protection

Ted Koppel said: “Some of America’s leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the “free market”.

Fareed Zakaria admitted “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another. I am a big fan of the free market…But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn’t work well, it can cause huge distortions.”

They’re right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn’t seem to work in any of the areas vital to the American public.Privatization Sucks

Paul Buchheit published in www.commondreams.org this August 6, 2013:

Health Care

Our private health care system is by far the most expensive system in the developed world.

42% of sick Americans skipped doctor’s visits and/or medication purchases in 2011 because of excessive costs. The price of common surgeries is anywhere from three to 10 times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany.

Some of the documented tales: a $15,000 charge for lab tests for which a Medicare patient would have paid a few hundred dollars; an $8,000 special stress test for which Medicare would have paid $554; and a $60,000 gall bladder operation, which was covered for $2,000 under a private policy.

As the examples begin to make clear, Medicare is more cost-effective. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, Medicare administrative costs are about one-third that of private health insurance.

More importantly, our ageing population has been staying healthy. While as a nation we have a shorter life expectancy than almost all other developed countries, Americans covered by Medicare INCREASED their life expectancy by 3.5 years from the 1960s to the turn of the century.

Free-market health care has been taking care of the CEOs. Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, made $1,845,000 in 2012. That’s over 10 times as much as the $170,000 made by the federal Medicare Administrator in 2010.

Stephen J. Hemsley, the CEO of United Health Group, made three hundred times as much, with most of his $48 million coming from stock gains.

Water

A Citigroup economist gushed, “Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.”

Privatization is wrong

A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80% more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services.

A more recent study confirms that privatization will generally “increase the long-term costs borne by the public.” Privatization is “shortsighted, irresponsible and costly.”

Numerous examples of water privatization abuses or failures have been documented in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island — just about anywhere it’s been tried.

Meanwhile, corporations have been making outrageous profits on a commodity that should be almost free. Nestle buys water for about 1/100 of a penny per gallon, and sells it back for ten dollars. Their bottled water is not much different from tap water.

Worse yet, corporations profit from the very water they pollute. Dioxin-dumping Dow Chemicals is investing in water purification. Monsanto has been accused of privatizing its own pollution sites in order to sell filtered water back to the public.

Privatization of water protest

Bolivians protest privatization of water.

Internet, TV, and Phone

It seems the whole world is leaving us behind on the Internet. According to the OECD, South Korea has Internet speeds up to 200 times faster than the average speed in the U.S., at about half the cost.

Customers are charged about $30 a month in Hong Kong or Korea or parts of Europe for much faster service than in the U.S., while triple-play packages in other countries go for about half of our Comcast or AT&T charges.

Bloomberg notes that deregulators in the 1990s anticipated a market-based decline in phone and cable bills, an “invisible hand” that would steer competing companies to lower prices for all of us. Verizon and AT&T and Comcast and Time-Warner haven’t let it happen.

Transportation

As Republicans continue to deride public transportation as ‘socialist’ and ‘Soviet-style,’ China surges ahead with a plan to create the world’s most advanced high-speed rail transport network. Government-run high-speed rail systems have been successful in numerous other countries, and England and Brazil both lament industry privatization.Privatizatin equals corruption

As a warning to wannabe Post Office privatizers, Greyhound and Trailways once provided service to remote locations in America, but deregulation intervened. The bus companies eliminated unprofitable routes, and cutbacks and salary decreases, all in the name of optimal profits, resulted in drivers working up to 100 hours a week — a fact to consider any time each of us ride the bus.

With privatization comes automatic rate increasesChicago surrendered its parking meters for 75 years and almost immediately faced a doubling of parking rates.

California’s experiments with roadway privatization resulted in cost overruns, public outrage, and a bankruptcy; equally disastrous was the state’s foray into electric power privatization. In Pennsylvania, an analysis of school busing by the Keystone Research Center concluded that “Contracting out substantially increases state spending on transportation services.”

Banking

The industry is bloated with deceit and depravity. Almost all of the big names have taken part. Goldman Sachs designed mortgage packages to lose money for everyone except Goldman.

Countrywide and Wells Fargo targeted Blacks and Hispanics for unaffordable subprime loans. HSBC Bank laundered money for Mexican drug cartels. GE Capital skimmed billions of dollars from its customers. Dozens of hedge fund managers have been guilty of insider trading.

Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase hid billions of dollars of bonuses and losses and loans from investors. Banks fixed interest rates in the LIBOR scandal. T

hey illegally foreclosed on millions of homeowners in the robo-signing scandal.

Matt Taibbi explained to us how financial malfeasance led to the bubbles in dot-com stocks and housing and oil prices and commodities that extract trillions of dollars away from society.

This is all the result of free-market deregulated private business. The best-known public bank, on the other hand, is the Bank of North Dakota, which remains profitable while serving small business and the public at low cost relative to the financial industry.

Prisons

Privatization Prisons No

One would think it a worthy goal to rehabilitate prisoners and gradually empty the jails. But business is too good.

With each prisoner generating up to $40,000 a year in revenue, it has apparently made economic sense to put over two million people behind bars.

The need to fill privatized prisons has contributed to mass jailings for drug offenses, with African Americans, who make up 13% of the population, accounting for 53.5%of all persons who entered prison because of a drug conviction. Yet marijuana usage rates are about the same for Blacks and whites.

Studies show that private prisons perform poorly in numerous ways: prevention of intra-prison violence, jail conditions, rehabilitation efforts. Investigations in Ohio and New Jersey revealed a familiar pattern of money-saving cutbacks and worsening conditions.

Education

The notion that charter schools outperform traditional public schools is not supported by the facts. An updated 2013 Stanford University CREDO study concluded that privatized schools were slightly better in reading and slightly worse in math, with little difference overall. Charter results have shown an improvement since 2009.

An independent study by Bold Approach found that “reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from…policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment.”

Just as with prisons and hospitals, cost-saving business strategies apply to the privatization of our children’s education.

Charter school teachers have fewer years of experience and a higher turnover rate. Non-teacher positions have insufficient retirement plans and health insurance, and much lower pay.

If big money has its way, our children may become high-tech symbols and objects. Bill Gates proposes quality control for the student assembly line, with video footage from the classrooms sent to evaluators to check off teaching skills.Privatization doesn't work

Consumer Protection

Warning signs about unregulated privatization are becoming clearer and more deadly. The Texas fertilizer plant, where 14 people were killed in an explosion and fire, was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) over 25 years ago. T

he U.S. Forest Service, stunned by the Prescott, Arizona fire that killed 19, was forced by the sequester to cut 500 firefighters.

The rail disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec followed deregulation of Canadian railways.

Regulation is meant to protect all of us, but anti-government activists have worked hard to turn us against our own best interests.

Among recommended Republican cuts is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which rescued hundreds of people after Hurricane Sandy while serving millions more with meals and water.

In another ominous note for the future, the House passed the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, which would deny the Environmental Protection Agency the right to enforce the Clean Water Act.

Deregulation not only deprives Americans of protection, but it also endangers us with the persistent threat of corporate misconduct.

As late as 2004 Monsanto had insisted that Agent Orange ”is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.

Dow Chemical, the co-manufacturer of Agent Orange, blamed the government.

Halliburton pleaded guilty to destroying evidence after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010. Cleanups cost much more than the fines imposed on offending companies, as government costs can run into the billions, or even tens of billions, of dollars.

People vs. Profits

As summed up by US News, “Private industry is not going to step in and save people from drowning, or help them rebuild their homes without a solid profit.”

In order to stay afloat as a nation we need each other, not savvy businesspeople who presume to tell us all how to be rich. We can’t all be rich. We just want to keep from drowning.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org)

He is the editor and main author of American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

Why Israel begged for an immediate cease fire in its preemptive July War of 2006?

If you want to know the context of the July War that lasted 33 days, you may read the Note first.

Hassan Nasr Allah, Hezbollah Secretary General, gave an extensive interview to Ghassan Ben Jeddo on the channel Al Mayadeen, a day before the car bombing of Bir Al Abed that harvested 26 killed and over 270 injured.
In that interview, corresponding to the anniversary of the cease fire of Israel preemptive war on Lebanon in 2006, Nasr Allah explained:
“In the first 29 days of the war, Bush Jr. and his administration vouched that this war will not end until Hezbollah is wiped out or decide to turn over all its weapons…”
On day 30, Israel sent messages that it is ready to consider a cease fire, but preferred to play coy and insisted on the preconditions:
1. The UN peace keeping forces should be increased to 15,000 instead of the present 2,000 soldiers
2. No Lebanese southern refugees (about 400,000) will be denied the right to return until the 15,000 UN force has arrived. It was estimated that this UN force to assemble will take 5 months to be ready to be deployed.
3. Hezbollah military forces will vacate behind the Litany River and be substituted with the Lebanese regular army…
Hezbollah refused, and its missiles kept showering the Israeli settlements and reaching far inside Israel. About over 600,000 Israelis fled their settlements.
On day 31, Israel ambassador to the UN woke up Qatar ambassador Hamad at 3 am and begged him to do his best to arrange for an immediate cease fire.
US ambassador George Bolton insisted on Hamad to do his best effort for this most urgent demand, claiming that their friend Israel have begged Bush Jr. to desist and accept a cease fire.
(Mind you that Bolton is the one who ironically asked the Arab ambassadors to the UN to take their yearly vacation since this war is going to last…)
At the first meeting of Hamad with Nasr Allah, the main question on his mind was:
What happened for Israel to drop all its preconditions and beg for a cease fire?”
Nasr Allah gave his own interpretation:
Israel has used up all its tactical and strategic means to conduct successful operations within Lebanon.
1. Israel air force bombed everything and even all Lebanon infrastructure, electrical power centers, bridges and production facilities… and yet, Hezbollah missiles increased in numbers, in reach and in accuracy within Israel…
2. Israel navy suffered direct hits and casualty and was taken out of further coordinating operations
3. The many land operations were disastrous and the most modern Merkava tanks were not match to the Cornet missiles
4. Israel failed to hold on any small village during the previous days, even those on the borders. Israeli troops would show up in the morning and retreat in the evening…
5. The last major incursion to reach the Litany River, 6 km away from Israel, the supposed dividing line for a cease fire, was a total fiasco: Over 150 tanks were destroyed and hundred officers and soldiers were left on the field of operation…
Israel thought out one last shot, a night operation: Israel realized that Hezbollah never tried to shoot down any helicopter at night and assumed that Hezbollah lacks night facilities and gears.
And consequently, on the 30th night, Israel dispatch a helicopter carrying 5 officers to prepare the ground for the night operation and landing.
A Cornet missile shot down the helicopter and the 5 officers died. (Cornet missiles are meant to target tanks)
And Israel lost every hope for any meaningful operation in this war. Israel was to be on the receiving end of Hezbollah missiles for any additional day that this war last. Hezbollah was launching over 300 missiles every day and reaching far away strategic installations within Israel.
Nasr Allah confirmed that Hezbollah had missiles that could reach Tel Aviv if Israel refused to take his warning seriously by bombing Beirut.  And Israel refrained from bombing the Capital Beirut because it believed the words of Nasr Allah.
On the last minutes before the cease fire took effect, Hezbollah had the last word and showered Israel with hundreds of missiles.
And why the Lebanese government delayed its response to the Resolution 1701 with devastating consequences?
Note: War in context.
On July 12, Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on the borders. Hezbollah has been Warning Israel and the Lebanese authorities that it will kidnap soldiers to swap with Lebanese prisoners in Israel.
Israel had already conducted prisoner swaps before with Hezbollah under German hospices, and it was to be business as usual this time around. Two difficulties emerged:
1. A tank arrived on the scene and was destroyed by a land mine, killing all its crew
2. Bush Jr. and Saudi Arabia were totally upset with Hezbollah successes, and pressured Israel to launch a total preemptive war.
A preemptive war was already programmed and planned for late September, and Israel was not ready for an earlier war.  Israel Chief of Staff Halutz promised his government a swift air strike that would put Hezbollah on its knees within two days.
Three days and nights of intensive airstrikes didn’t prevent Hezbollah from delivering hundreds of missiles within Israel.
Israel Foreign Minister Livni asked the government to stop the war since the Jews in the settlements were fleeing en mass and Israel had no experience with these internal problems due to Israelis taking refuge elsewhere. And the settlement had no underground refuge or bunkers for these kinds of wars.
Bush Jr. and his administration would not listen to Israeli dilemma and insisted on the resumption of total war until Hezbollah is wiped out…

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2013
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,416,716 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 768 other followers

%d bloggers like this: