Tag Archive: privatization

Aug 08 2017

The Outsourcing of War

The Trump administration has a brilliant idea on how to deael with the conundrum of the 16 year war in Afghanistan: privatize it by outsourcing it to a private mercenary army. Trump White House weighs unprecedented plan to privatize much of the war in Afghanistan By Jim Michaels, USA Today The White House is actively …

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Apr 17 2015

The Right’s Stealth Efforts to Privatize the Veterans Administration

Koch-backed veterans group advocates for VA privatization

During the 2014 midterm election cycle, the Koch-funded group Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) backed a bevy of extreme conservative candidates and helped send top Koch cronies (and veterans) Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton to the U.S. Senate. Scarcely a couple months into the 2016 cycle, CVA has released a report recommending that much of the U.S. Veterans Administration be privatized, an extreme policy position that would jeopardize the care received by millions of our nation’s veterans.

Last month, CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce released its final report suggesting “policy reforms” for the VA, namely that the VA’s health care system be converted into an independent, nonprofit corporation and advocating for the creation of a private insurance option for veterans. Additionally, new enrollees into the proposed system would face tougher enrollment standards. According to USA Today, a whopping one-fifth of future veterans would not be eligible for care under CVA’s proposed system. It’s no wonder then that the American Legion has come out against the plan, as did Paralyzed Veterans of America, and that “most veterans service organizations skipped” the rollout of the CVA’s final report, according to Stars & Stripes Magazine.

Most veterans organizations don’t support CVA’s privatization plan, and it has the potential to negatively impact some 20 percent of future veterans. So what explains CVA’s release of what Stars & Stripes calls a “radical” plan for the VA? Consider that CVA received a whopping $5.5 million from the Koch brothers’ “secret bank” – Freedom Partners – in 2013. The Kochs have advocated for education reform by way of abolishing the federal Department of Education and campaign finance reform vis-à-vis doing away with the FEC. So it’s disappointing, but not surprising, that a Koch group’s vision of VA reform is to privatize most of the agency charged with caring for our nation’s veterans.

Koch favorite and presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio has already endorsed the extreme CVA plan. Will the rest of the Koch cronies follow suit and contradict the position of most veterans service organizations?

The idea of privatization through vouchers is also supported by two other GOP presidential contenders: former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). The right wing would like nothing more than to dismantle the entire social safety net for everyone.

In a two part segment, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted how the right wing was quietly working to privatize segments of the Veterans Administration through vouchers for health care outside the system.

In the second segment, she speaks with Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, about the importance of the VA in the American health system, how the VA is improving after recent scandals, and political challenges from conservatives interested in privatization.

Founder of VoteVets.org Eric Solz pointed out in an article for Huffington Post that the voucher system would undermine funding to the VA and shuttle veterans into a system that is not equipped to handle their special needs.

The scandal that rocked the VA over excessive wait times to get care and excessive backlogs in processing claims was terrible. It was also a problem that was, literally, years in the making. Before Secretary Eric Shinseki, not a single VA secretary, Democrat or Republican, tried to get the VA to move to a modern, computerized system. And the VA never prepared for the influx of veterans when we launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to overstretched facilities cooking their books to avoid punishment.

There is no doubt that veterans shouldn’t have to rely on the VA for everything. But what Republican candidates, backed by the Koch-brothers-funded Concerned Veterans for America, talk about is the beginning of the end of the pact we make with our veterans to give them the care they need. What they want is the privatization of veterans’ care: Fight for your country and get a voucher.

What this would do is severely underfund the department, leaving veterans out in the cold when it comes to many of their service-connected injuries. For example, VA centers are often equipped to deal with amputations and traumatic brain injuries in a way that a local doctor or hospital might not be. But if we voucherize the system, local VA centers and hospitals would be forced to shutter their doors. For veterans in need of specialized care — both physical and mental — they may not have an able caregiver to turn to in their area.

Furthermore, the VA, despite the bad press, continues to far outpace private care in national customer satisfaction surveys. Veterans like the care they get at the VA. A lot. Closing the VA is the first step toward ending other popular programs like Medicare. In fact, that’s what this whole fight is about.

Jun 11 2013

Even Spying Is a Private Industry

Like much of our government, spying has been privatized. 70% of surveillance is done by private companies that translates to $6 billion dollars with a half a million employees.

Meet the contractors analyzing your private data

by Tim Shorrock

Private companies are getting rich probing your personal information for the government. Call it Digital Blackwater

Amid the torrent of stories about the shocking new revelations about the National Security Agency, few have bothered to ask a central question. Who’s actually doing the work of analyzing all the data, metadata and personal information pouring into the agency from Verizon and nine key Internet service providers for its ever-expanding surveillance of American citizens?

Digital Blackwater: How the NSA Gives Private Contractors Control of the Surveillance State

Over the past decade, the U.S. intelligence community has relied increasingly on the technical expertise of private firms such as Booz Allen, SAIC, the Boeing subsidiary Narus and Northrop Grumman. About 70 percent of the national intelligence budget is now spent on the private sector. Former NSA Director Michael V. Hayden has described these firms as a quote “digital Blackwater.” We speak to Tim Shorrock, author of the book “Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence.”

Nov 04 2012

The Lies of Neoliberalism; Governments Don’t Create Jobs or Economic Growth by NY Brit Expat

It may be my masochism, but I actually watched the Presidential debates. I also regularly watch the news over here in the UK. Cameron and his cronies constantly spout this argument that governments cannot create economic growth. During the Presidential debates, Mitt Romney even went a step further; he argued that governments cannot create employment. The Tory argument is a bit more sophisticated, but both arguments have their roots in the fantasies of neoliberal economics of which both the Tories and the Republicans have adopted in its most fundamental form; their arguments also tie into the perspective of reduction of the central government budgets along the lines demanded by the IMF and the introduction of austerity measures to ensure these results. Except, and this is a big exception, neither of these governments have been forced to do so by the IMF.

Given that these statements are not only historically inaccurate, but bordering on the patently absurd, it never ceases to amaze me that challenge from the mainstream media is not forthcoming. Even more so, during the debate, President Obama did not respond to the absurd statement by Romney; in fact, he also raised budget deficit reduction which essentially means cutting state employment and social services. The Labour Party does not disagree with the Tories; they only say that austerity must be done more slowly and Ed Balls (the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) has said at the Labour Party conference that, if elected, they had no intension of reversing the austerity measures forced upon the British populace by the Con-Dem government.  Essentially, all of the mainstream parties are singing the same tune; honestly, different tonalities of the same argument do not change the fact that the underlying tune is the same.

sheepsfightingwhowilleatthem

To someone that is living in the real world, in other words, someone that actually heard about the New Deal, that knows the role of government in ensuring economic growth during the post-war period in Europe, who knows damn well that state (or public) sector workers exist and that the government’s purchase of goods and services from the private sector and investment in the private sector help to ensure economic growth it makes me wonder if they think that we are extremely stupid.  

Jun 22 2011

Greece: Saving the Banks, Destroying A Country

What Atrios said:

The people who run the world agree that ordinary people need to suffer so that the banksters don’t lose on their bets.

The people who run the world are awful people.

Shitpile is an understatement.

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning that a full-scale restructuring of Greek debt would have “completely uncontrollable”consequences on the financial markets.

Merkel said Wednesday that imposing a so-called haircut on Greek debt – reducing the amount to be repaid – would not only endanger banks and other creditors who hold Greek bonds, but also institutions that sold insurance policies against a default.

Merkel told a parliamentary committee that those credit default swaps have a higher face value than the debt itself.

But protect those bankers they no matter that they’ve destroyed Greece’s economy by the skin of the average Greeks’ teeth

ATHENS – Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece won a crucial vote of confidence early Wednesday, with all 155 lawmakers of the Socialist Party expressing their support for his beleaguered government, above the absolute majority of 151 votes required by Greece’s 300-seat Parliament. . . .

He defended the country’s foreign creditors, who have become a lightning rod for popular fury, saying, “They are giving us a helping hand in difficult times.”

But tens of thousands of people gathered outside Parliament, many voicing rage at foreign lenders, whom they see as a kind of occupying power, and at a government they blame for Greece’s financial crisis.

“They destroyed the country,” said Terpsichore Theofili, 23, a history student, as she stood in the crowd in Syntagma Square outside Parliament. “They should pay, not us,” she added.

David Dayen said it,

No, they’re saving their creditors.

In other words, a Greek default event would break the banks and the financial wizards who sold default insurance. This is all about protecting them, not the Greek people. . . .

Mohamed El-Erian of Pimco still thinks Greece will default. And maybe they will. Maybe the Parliament will succumb to the pressure of the street and refuse to institute more pain and suffering. Maybe this latest plan will just kick the can down the road, and default will be an inevitable future event. But Greece should have the power to set the terms here. It’s like the old joke: “If I lend you $100 and you don’t pay it back, you have a problem. If I lend you $1 trillion and you don’t pay it back, I have a problem.” Greece could hold that over their creditors, but so far their political leadership has been cowed.