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Labor in the Time of Trump$
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Jasmine Kerrissey, Eve Weinbaum, Clare Hammonds, Tom Juravich, and Dan Clawson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501746598

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501746598.001.0001

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Privatization—Chipping Away at Government

Privatization—Chipping Away at Government

(p.106) 6 Privatization—Chipping Away at Government
Labor in the Time of Trump

Donald Cohen

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the right wing's astonishingly successful efforts to privatize public goods and services. Privatization has been one of the highest priorities of the right wing for many years, and the chapter shows how it threatens both labor and democracy. Intentionally blurring the lines between public and private institutions, private companies and market forces undermine the common good. This chapter documents the history of privatization in the United States, from President Reagan's early efforts to Clinton and Gore's belief in private markets. Showing how privatization undermines democratic government, the chapter describes complex contracts that are difficult to understand, poorly negotiated “public–private partnership” deals, and contracts that provide incentives to deny public services. With huge amounts of money at stake, privateers are increasingly weighing in on policy debates—not based on the public interest but rather in pursuit of avenues that increase their revenues, profits, and market share. Privatization not only destroys union jobs but also aims to cripple union political involvement so that the corporate agenda can spread unfettered. Nevertheless, community-based battles against privatization have succeeded in many localities, demonstrating the power of fighting back to defend public services, public jobs, and democratic processes.

Keywords:   privatization, public services, public goods, private markets, public–private partnership, policy debates, union political involvement, corporate agenda

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