Thursday, June 23, 2011

Privatize this, Ohio!

Ohio's Legislature is considering privatizing, well, just about everything. The Lottery. The prisons. The turnpike. The schools. College dormitories.

The Toledo Blade (one of the only newspapers in the country to oppose Nafta) asks a couple of good questions:
Why the rush to sell off Ohio's assets?
Are we giving away state and local assets, which taxpayers have spent a lot of money to build, for less than they are worth?
Will privatizing actually cost less?
Will privatization limit our ability to make decisions and deliver good services?
Who will benefit from these deals, and will that adversely affect making of good policy?
The answers are easy: Political payback, yes, no, yes, Kasich's friends.

Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan -- they're all going the privatization route, thanks to their Governors Gone Wild. Here's just one example of what happens when a taxpayer asset -- in this case a prison -- is privatized (thanks firedoglake):
“It was a mini riot, and yet no guards intervened.”
That is the description of the situation which Antoney Jones found himself in almost immediately after arriving at the Idaho Correctional Center. Jones, a black gay man, was intentionally placed by guards into a housing unit where he would be assaulted by other prisoners. “Prisoners throughout the pod lined the rails and began yelling, ‘Kill the nigger,’ ‘Get the fag’ and ‘Kill the rat.’”

Mr. Jones’ story is one of more than a dozen similar ones found in the complaint of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Idaho against CCA for their operation of ICC, a prison so notorious for its violence that it’s been dubbed “gladiator school” by those housed there. The violence is so pervasive particularly because the prison is private; by routinely hiring unqualified staff and reducing staffing levels to the barest of minimums, the prison is literally a breeding ground for violent activity.