Wednesday, February 15, 2017

POTUS: PRIVATIZER OF THE UNITED STATES three steps to undermining the trump agenda

You know things are bad when people are willing to get their medicine from the snake oil salesman. Huckster, hustler, button pusher, scammer, scoundrel, swindler. Whatever you want to call this guy, there is one single word that should be inextricably linked to his name and his brand of snake oil:

Privatization.

Say it with me now: pri-vat-iz-a-tion (prī-və-tə-ˈzā-shən). Get used to saying it. Every time he tweets – #privatization. Every time he has a rally – privatization. Every time he signs another baby’s first executive order – privatization.



The basic is this: neoliberals were chomping at the bit to privatize every government program they could get their greedy hands on long before this guy entered the race. And in classic Newspeak fashion they’ve provided an out of control anti-establishment champion for everyone to hate as cover for the installation of an entirely corporate cabinet. Doubleplusungood.



Let’s be clear here, this is no longer simply the fox guarding the henhouse. This is not about lobbyists writing legislation, or corporate kickbacks, or pay for play – this is about putting corporate executives directly in control of our government.

Sure, they’ll continue to tow the party line: smaller government, lower taxes, reduce the deficit, government corruption and reform (“drain the swamp”), but keep your eye on the ball. Will this administration really use their power to do away with all of those “bloated bureaucratic agencies” or will they simply use the existing infrastructure to reroute all those tax payer dollars into their own pockets?

So why are so many willing to accept this clear conflict of interest?

Well, you see, we’ve got this thing in the States, a straight up hard on for guys in suits that can put one over on everyone around them, take advantage of every poor sucker along the way. We put these folks on the cover of Fortune and Forbes and call them “the smartest guys in the room.”

This guy may not look like them, you may not even think he’s smart enough to be them, but that’s the genius of it. This snake oil salesman is selling the appearance of wealth. He’s been pushing his get rich quick schemes on late night TV for decades. His string of bankruptcies might give the impression that he’s been a failure at this game, but nobody called Jamie Dimon a failure when we bailed his ass out.

Everyone else in the world – yeah, pretty much everyone, calls this thing they are doing “austerity.” In a nutshell – those in power engineer a crisis, financial or otherwise, and then blame some other folks in power for doing an inadequate job handling the crisis.

Here’s where it gets fun – they’ll claim that the crisis, and the inadequate response, is proof of a systemic failure and call for reform. This reform is always the privitization of the existing system. This privatization involves tax payer money being allocated to them and their private companies in place of the public institutions that normally handle the job. They claim that privatization will be more efficient and yield a greater return on taxpayer investment.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Problem is, once they get that fat government check, they’re free to welsh on the job or do it in such a substandard manner as to escalate the crisis, leading to further privatization...

Of course, blowing all this tax payer money on nothing means that every time the people want something for their taxes, the powers that be can claim that there just isn’t enough to go around, salaries are too high, benefits must be cut, we all have to make sacrifices. All smiles across the aisle.

There is one more essential step in the neoliberal crisis capitalism playbook – they’re going to offer you, your city, your country, a loan. A loan to make up for all that revenue they just swindled you out of, all those resources they gobbled up, and all that public land they privatized. And with a smile and a handshake they’ll snap on the shackles of debt, turning you into a product they can buy and sell on the market. That’s austerity, and it’s right here in the good ole US of A, even if we’re all too cranked up on conflict narrative culture to see it.

So if the snake oil salesman is respected by the people specifically for his ability to get over on the people, how does one mobilize the people in their own best interest? Well, if exposing his duplicity only serves to further validate his prowess, then perhaps a less direct, less confrontational approach is needed. The anti-globalization movement’s “¡Basta!” and a phrase I often heard repeated at OWS, “I would prefer not to,” come to mind. I recall messaging discussions concerning the framing of 2003 The World Says No To War demonstrations as a rejection of business as usual, a principled stand, a withdrawal of consent.



With this in mind I’d like to propose a basic three step outline for undermining the strategy of domination through privatization. I am hoping that it provides a simple starting point for other organizers and media folks to build upon, a focus beyond the fractured reactionary response being scripted for us.

1 ) Take a closer look at the government agencies under threat of privatization. Start with the cabinet level offices and work out from there. What do these agencies actually do? Who are the appointees that will lead these agencies in this administration? How will their positions benefit them and their corporate interests? How will the agency infrastructure be used to redirect tax payer money?

2 ) Given that these agencies may now be used to oppress rather than to protect, what alternatives can we come up with in light of this privatization? This is a tricky thing to propose, because the administration would like nothing better than for us to cede complete authority to them in all these areas. But if they have taken control of the government, we really need to start coming up with alternatives that are insulated from their influence.

3 ) Make these alternatives viable, accessible, and desirable. This may involve the redirection of public funds toward alternatives to privatized government programs, a mass mobilization involving divestment and reinvestment focused on a withdrawal of consent. Not just boycotts and strikes, but the work of building viable alternatives to replace the existing dependencies.

Move Your Money is an example of one such alternative mobilization. The campaign was pretty successful, with individuals, unions, and whole municipalities moving their money from predatory big banks and financial institutions into local credit unions and community banks. Just recently, the Seattle City Council voted to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo over the bank’s backing of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Most notably, the campaign wasn’t presented simply as an ethical imperative, but as a practical benefit. Moving one’s money from a bank that charges outrageous fees with no interest to one that offers free checking with interest is obviously attractive. The key then is accessibility. Is there a local credit union office in the neighborhood? Is one’s money accessible through ATM’s in the neighborhood? Could that vacant building next to the check cashing place be secured to house a new credit union office, providing an obvious visible alternative at the point of interaction? These are the kinds of details that must be addressed to encourage people to withdraw their consent, while simultaneously helping themselves.

There is enormous opportunity to mobilize the people through a desire for what they want, rather than simply controlling them through fear and desperation. This is, at its core, about replacing a narrative of scarcity and strife, with one of agency and empowerment. If this (s)election told us anything, it is that the people would rather vote for something than for nothing at all. The snake oil salesman only has power if we keep buying what he is selling. And privatization really is about selling you what was yours to begin with. Withdraw your consent and take it back.
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Trump’s Crony Cabinet May Look Strong, but They Are Scared – Naomi Klein
Donald Trump’s Executive Order Will Let Private Equity Funds Drain Your 401(k) – David Dayen

Here's How We Prepare to Be Ungovernable in 2017 – Sarah Lazare 
Intercepted Podcast: The Clock Strikes 13, and Donald Trump Is President – The Intercept