Magazine article In These Times


Magazine article In These Times


Article excerpt

Urban asset harvest

I keep wondering why privatization ever seems like a money-saving option ("Is There Detroit After Bankruptcy?," September). When a public asset like trash removal goes into private hands, it switches from being a not-for-profit motivated entity to a profitmotivated one, with the possibility of becoming a publicly traded entity with a definite interest in progressive revenue growth.

A profit is made in one of two ways: innovation or cost control. Hence, a city selling its assets for pennies on the dollar ends up with a maintenance bill much higher than the one it had to begin with, and loses almost all means of directly intervening if expenses get out of control.

The transition to emergency managers is not analogous to a doctor making the tough call of amputating this or that limb in order to save the patient. Rather, it's analogous to taking the patient out of the hospital into some dark alley where a street doc will assess which organs can be harvested for a quick buck. In other words, its going to get worse before it gets a lot worse.

Alex Richard

Montreal, Canada

Hostile takeover

The media's complicity in downplaying the war on women, while happily covering female sexuality, should be contextualized ("Girls Don't Just Want to Have Fun," September). The war on women is linked to the war on workers and unions, the war on voters, and the war on public schools and the public generally. Mussolini explained that the corporate state is the essence of fascism, and this is where we're heading: the union of giant corporations and governments (federal and state and local). …

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