Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your holiday reading.

- Paul Buchhelt discusses eight areas where privatization has proven to be a disaster in the U.S. - with one holding particular interest for Regina residents:
A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent 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.
- Robert Reich responds to three lies used to push for corporate tax giveaways. Bernie Sanders discusses how anti-worker employers have built their obscene wealth on effective subsidies from the public. And Chris Hedges comments on the U.S.' prison-industrial complex.

- Meanwhile, Bob Weber reports on an attempt to label a closed assembly of oil-backed governments and tar sands lobby groups as a "Pan-Canadian" discussion of pipelines. And Greenpeace's Keith Stewart offers the appropriate response:
Keith Stewart of Greenpeace said it’s telling that no environmental or aboriginal groups have been invited to help determine the group’s goals and objectives.

“Industry says, ‘Oh yes, of course we’ll engage people — after we’ve set everything up.’ The people who have been expressing concerns aren’t getting any say on setting terms of reference, the types of things that are going to be looked at, how it’s going to operate.”
Noting Alberta has yet to release a long-awaited report on pipeline safety, Stewart suspects the collaborative may be aimed more at public opinion than anything else.

“We’ve see this around the world, where companies who are under fire launch these types of initiatives to try and allay public concern and avoid new regulation,” he said. “They treat it as a public-relations problem rather than an operations problem.”
 - Finally, Adam Radwanski identifies the NDP as the big winner in last week's Ontario by-elections. And while Nora Loreto is rather less optimistic, she's right in pointing out how that result should help the party influence the province's wider political system:
Assuming that government holds long enough to even consider a budget, the pressure on the NDP to deliver a budget with the Liberals that reflects some progressive values will be their greatest test in nearly 20 years. The Liberals will need NDP support. The New Democrats cannot rely on weak, populist policies if they’re going to prove that they’re a viable alternative. They’ll have to demonstrate that they can play politics: make serious demands or force a general election.
If the NDP picks their big issues now (public childcare? lower tuition fees? new energy policies?), pulling a Liberal budget to the left won’t be politically difficult.
There are many, many months for the NDP to clean itself up internally and find the best political minds and organizers they can mine from the left. With an activist Ontario Federation of Labour, this shouldn’t be a hard task.
[Edit: fixed typo.]

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