Massachusetts’s Taxpayer Protection Act is the gold standard when it comes to ensuring government contracts are awarded fairly and will result in cost savings that don’t simply rely on slashing wages and benefits for workers. Also known as the Pacheco Law, the legislation was passed in 1993 after years of wanton government outsourcing led to drastic failures and outrageous corruption by contractors. The reckless privatization of critical services such as mental health care for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens led to the creation of important standards and protections for public workers, service recipients and taxpayers.
Businesses that want to win a contract with the Commonwealth must prove they can lower costs to do the same service at the same level of quality, while providing their employees with the same wages and benefits as the public agency. A uniform process for evaluating and awarding contracts ensures conflicts of interest are rooted out while the state auditor oversees everything.
From boiling the soon-to-be-mashed potatoes to rinsing the fruits and vegetables, clean water is an essential ingredient in every household that will be preparing Thanksgiving dinner.
And yet, the absence of adequate federal support means our public water systems are under threat. Over the next 20 years, U.S. water systems will likely require a staggering $2.8 to $4.8 trillion investment, and for-profit corporations such as Veolia and Suez are jumping at the opportunity to privatize America’s water supply so they can pocket a portion of those trillions we’ll need to spend.
A new report released by Corporate Accountability International with Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), shows that promises made by private water corporations fail to materialize or come at the expense of deferred infrastructure maintenance, skyrocketing water rates and risks to public health.
The good news, however, is that cities across the country and all over the world are increasingly rejecting water privatization and are taking back public control of their water systems.
California voters passed a groundbreaking ballot measure this month that reduces penalties and sentences for nonviolent, “nonserious” crimes. Now, the private industry is responding to these changes in public attitudes and declining prison populations by opening up new lines of business.
A new report released by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Grassroots Leadership and the Southern Center for Human Rights, highlights the expansion of the private prison industry into other profitable and growing areas in the criminal justice system: prison and jail subcontracted medical care; forensic mental hospitals and civil commitment centers, as well as “community corrections” programs such as probation and halfway houses.
The report authors have named this new expanded private corrections industry the “treatment industrial complex” via the report.
As other states follow California’s lead and pass laws reducing mandatory minimum sentences, the report urges policy makers, advocates and others to ensure that private corporations can’t profit from any part of the criminal justice system.
Halloween is the time of year dedicated to scary stories, and in In the Public Interest report, “Out of Control,” there are 26 frightening and factual tales of how the push for government outsourcing is hurting taxpayers around the country.
You will be horrified by the real-life examples of Americans tricked by privatization, from a nun fighting cancer who was wrongly dumped from food stamps and Medicaid to foster children placed in severely abusive homes. Privatization is something to be feared when our elected officials aren’t carefully protecting the public’s interest.
We work every day to prevent future privatization horror stories from creeping and crawling their way into our democracy. Because just like Chicago, which leased its parking meters for 75 years to a Morgan Stanley-led private consortium, a bad privatization deal can haunt a community for generations.
Show off your Halloween spirit and share this terrifying report on twitter using the hashtag #PrivatizationHorror.
I was inspired by the videos and photos of the more than 300,000 people at the People’s Climate March this past weekend in New York. The word is out, climate change is real, but what people might not know is the privatization of American infrastructure is contributing to the problem.
In a joint article with Professor Stephanie Farmer, I detail how poorly structured “public-private partnerships” (P3s) hinder efforts by cities and states to address climate change.
The city of Chicago is learning this the hard way. Not only has the decision to lease the city’s parking meters to a Morgan Stanley-led consortium been a costly mistake for taxpayers (the meters were sold $1 billion dollars under their value), Dr. Farmer’s research has also found that the deal is tying the hands of transportation planners in their efforts to construct environmentally sustainable transportation modes—such as bike lanes,