"The wealthy, not only by private fraud but also by common laws, do every day pluck and snatch away from the people some part of their daily living. Therefore, when I consider and weigh in my mind these commonwealths which nowadays do flourish, I perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men in procuring their own commodities under the name and authority of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely without fear of losing that which they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labor of the people for as little money and effort as possible."

Thomas More, Utopia

Friday, September 29, 2006

Third World Musings

Michael Parenti is one of those scholars whose voice is curiously missing from mainstream discourse on US foreign and domestic policy. If he has ever appeared on CNN or FOX I surely missed it.

Parenti received his doctorate in political science from Yale, and has authored some 19 books--all of which deserve your attention.

What caught my attention, however, was a recent article he wrote that appeared on Znet. It focused primarily on the connection between the wealth and subsequent foreign policies of the First World, and persistent poverty in the Third World. What could that be? Well, I'll let Dr. Parenti explain.

There is a critical component to what Parenti describes in his essay that if you aren't paying close attention you could easily miss. This model is coming to our own shores, courtesy of the so-called neo-liberal agenda that sees aggressive privatization as the panacea for all that ills us. The "trickle-down effect" will miraculously sustain an ever-growing middle class, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Here in Chicago mayor Daley, fresh from his triumph over the will of 80% the city's population in vetoing a living wage ordinance in service to yet another corporation (Wal-Mart), has moved to sell the city's assets to the highest bidder. He sold the Skyway Tollroad to a corporation for 1.8 billion dollars and couldn't stop crowing about the "windfall". With only a moment's reflection, however, an obvious question arises: how do we replace the revenues generated by the Skyway--that now serve the bottom line of a private enterprise--once the last dime of the "windfall" is spent?

While your thinking about that, think about this. Daley has hatched a similar plan for Midway airport. That's right. If this bought and paid for corporate shill has his way, Midway will be in private hands making money hand over fist for a corporation that couldn't care less about Chicago's, schools, libraries, infrastructure, the effectiveness of its police & fire departments, or any of the 101 other things this valuable public asset helps to fund. Naturally O'Hare would be next.

Illinois Gov. Blagojevich has proposed to sell the state lottery to a private corporation for between four and five billion dollars. The payments are to be spread out over a four year period and (theoretically) will be used to fund the state's public schools. And when the four years are up? The schools are on their own.

Are you beginning to see a pattern? The Third World model of aggressive privatization in which valuable public assets are transferred into the hands of corporations (largely unaccountable to the public), is now emerging here in the US. Much as in the Third World, organized labor is also under assault in this country--along with many of the hard fought protections and worker's rights earned during a century of struggle (and bloodshed).

The Bush administration struggles mightily to strip the environmental protections that ensure clean air and potable water for future generations--all in service to special interest groups (read corporations and major investors) whose eyes are forever focused on the bottom line no matter the social costs.

Unless Americans stand up and demand that their elected officials serve the public interest, we are all going to gain first-hand knowledge of what Michael Parenti has so vividly described in that Other world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You make a valid point. Pols all over the country are selling valuable public assets to the highest bidder. Therby privitizing the government itself. It's like an apocolyptic sci-fi movie where corporate boards control the planet,and the rest of us are slaves. PRESIDENT Cheney is a tool of these conglomerates. It sickens me to watch him on television interviews with that arrogant smirk on his face. The question remains; How do we wake up the majority of Americans to what is happening? Most city residents don't know the city is being sold right out from under them.