Monday, September 30, 2013

Outsourcing: 5 ways corporations grab your tax dollars

Greedy corporations just can't seem to get enough outsourcing, as they take control of public assets like roads, parking meters, schools and prisons.

None of this is news to anyone. But it seems the scope of outsourcing is growing and the pace is accelerating. Just in the past few days we note news items about the corporate takeover of our schools, our water, our prisons and our national air space. Corporations even manage to persuade taxpayers to pay for creating assets -- like football stadiums -- that benefit people who are already wealthy.

Here's a quick rundown:

Charter schools: Forbes reported recently on the corporate grab for local education dollars in a story, "Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City." The magazine told it like it is:
On Thursday, July 25, dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors gathered in New York to hear about the latest and greatest opportunities to collect a cut of your property taxes.
There are now more than 6,000 charter schools in the United States, 3,500 more than a decade ago, and they're educating 2.3 million children. These corporate schools can pick which students they admit, but local taxpayers pay for them. They're a great way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, Forbes reports,
...two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elected Republicans. 
Sadly, kids in corporate schools don't do any better than kids in public schools.

Air traffic control: Bloomberg tells us "Discussions about removing government management of the U.S. air-traffic control system are the most serious in two decades."

"Privatization is not the answer," responded a commenter identified as Exctyengr:
Most of these knuckleheads never served in the military nor flew in the air traffic system. ... We privatized much of the military and we got Blackwater and Halliburton and Kellogg, Brown and Root and how did that work out?  Did we get our money's worth?  Were there scandals? 
Prisons, of course: The Center for Media and Democracy reports prison industry giants like Corrections Corporation of America are making big profits by locking states into occupancy quotas and “low-crime taxes." Some states state are by the corporation to keep prisons full or pay a fee for unused beds. Cost-cutting by private prisons companies "has led to numerous lawsuits and litigation, fines, and increased need for federal oversight, at great cost to taxpayers, communities, inmates and their families." Instead of taxpayer money going to safer communities, it goes to CEO salaries: GEO Group CEO George C. Zoley's compensation was an eye-popping $22,315,704 from 2008-2012, almost all paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

NFL Football: Gregg Easterbrook at The Atlantic argues:
Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams. 
Well, at least the players are allowed to belong to unions.

Water: In Fryeburg, Maine, a local taxpayer named Bruce Taylor doesn't want Nestle getting a sweetheart deal from state regulators to buy water for its Poland Springs bottled water business. Maine's Public Utilities Commission members all have financial ties to the corporate giant (no surprise there). Taylor told al-Jazeera America,
“They’re buying a commodity at a cheap regulated rate from a monopoly they own and are reselling it for a high profit in the form of bottled water you find in your local 7-11,” Taylor said. 
Taylor believes Nestle is paying too little for water and making too much profit off of Maine. He suggested “an inverted water rate for any commercial water that leaves the state of Maine.”
For more about the perils of outsourcing, read the Center for Media and Democracy's series on Outsourcing America Exposed.