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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Extreme Corruption

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Anyone who thought Republican Gov. Scott Walker was going to rest on his right-wing extremist laurels after destroying decades of collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin hadn’t seen anything yet.

Shamelessly, Walker has now asked Republican legislators to grant him the power to sell off every single publicly owned asset of the state of Wisconsin—all government buildings, university facilities, power plants, prisons, highways, even the Capitol itself.

The governor’s completely outrageous proposal is breathtaking in its audacity and public irresponsibility.

Walker’s wealthy pals would make out like bandits—exactly like bandits—not once, but twice.

They would reap big profits from what were mostly free or low-cost public facilities and any money the state received in return would most likely to go into percentage tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit, you guessed it, the wealthy.

The bill does not even bother to identify all the state properties Walker could sell to any high-roller campaign contributors of his choosing without taking competitive bids.

There’s a word for such a reckless idea, and it’s not conservatism. It’s corruption.

True conservatives want to protect the assets of the state. Walker’s corrupt version would fill the pockets of his richest political contributors while it increases the cost of state services for every other taxpayer in the state.

Real estate intended to benefit the people of Wisconsin, for which taxpayers have spent billions over decades, would be sold to private corporations free to jack up prices and make some really swell profits.

Republicans such as Walker have attacked government and talked up privatization for so long, people who don’t think very deeply may truly no longer understand the crucial difference between government and private enterprise. It’s profit.

Millions of dollars in profit for those at the top have to be built into private, profit-making operations. To keep attracting private investors and paying enormous salaries to top executives, profit-making companies have to increase their profits every quarter.

Unless companies can keep increasing the number of products or services sold, the only other ways to increase profits are to raise prices or cut costs.

 

Private Prisons Are Illegal

Anyone who understands that can immediately see that selling off public assets so private companies can wring profits out of them—and out of us—would be incredibly stupid.

Go down the list:

  • Highways. How in the world would a private company make money from owning state highways? The only way to make any money would be to charge the public to drive on their roads. Then, companies could further increase profits by cutting maintenance.

    Remember, even politicians answerable to voters are so reluctant to raise taxes that our cars bounce out of control when driving over huge sinkholes and our bridges keep falling down. Imagine the exorbitant tolls and terrifying conditions if roads were owned by companies whose only interest was increasing profits.  
  • Prisons. There’s a reason why private prisons are illegal in Wisconsin. State leaders from both parties recognized long ago that private prisons profit from recidivism.

    The primary interest of private prisons is to keep high occupancy rates. The higher the occupancy rate, the more profits soar.

    It’s not in the financial interest of the Corrections Corporation of America to rehabilitate offenders to hold down legitimate jobs, making our communities safer. In fact, the more dangerous people are when they’re released from prison into our neighborhoods, the better for the prison corporation. That means they’ll come back faster.
  • University Facilities. For decades, student fees financed student unions for the benefit of the students. Taxpayers and alumni built sports facilities and subsidized an enormous college sports industry that pours billions into universities. Philanthropists kept research facilities, classrooms and dormitories up to date in exchange for concrete immortality.

    So why not sell off all that gleaming real estate and those lucrative profit centers to profit-hungry companies that can start raising rents and price-gouging our students and universities?
  • Power Plants. You’ll never guess who’s been buying up public power plants around the country. Where have we heard of the Koch brothers?

    Oh, now we remember. David and Charles Koch are the right-wing billionaires who spent millions to elect Walker governor and to help him defeat all those Wisconsinites who wanted to recall him.

    The Koch brothers publicly deny any interest in buying the state’s power plants and then soaking Wisconsin taxpayers by selling power back to them at inflated prices.

    It’s a good thing we can believe whatever the Koch brothers say because they’re known as such honorable, highly principled businessmen.
  • Government Buildings. Boy, that sure would’ve solved all that unpleasantness caused by the public making a big fuss at the Capitol about Republicans rewriting laws to destroy public rights that existed for decades.

    If the Capitol were private property, the owners would be free to throw out anybody they wanted.

    We could rid the Capitol once and for all of bellyaching public rabble and all those Democratic legislators who run around calling Walker corrupt for selling out Wisconsin to wealthy, private interests.