1/5 The Fight To Defeat Privatization w/ Donald Cohen

January 5, 2022

Sam hosts Donald Cohen, founder and executive director of In the Public Interest, to discuss his recent book The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back that he co-wrote with Allen Mikaelian, on how neoliberal policies have cut up the public sphere, dividing its profits between a narrow subset of people, while turning the rest of us into competing consumers rather than communal citizens. Cohen and Sam begin by walking through how private companies take over public goods, first looking at the cautionary tale of Chicago Parking Meters LLC, originally a public good before being frantically sold for just over a billion dollars to offset the red in the city’s budget, only to see the cost of parking in Chicago skyrocket as the city realized it had undersold for fractions of the potential profits. However, solely focusing on parking drastically undersells the issue, as they explore how, beyond distributing wealth to further stratification, the privatization of public goods often ends up putting necessities in the hands of corporations, including access to clean water, education (both schools and libraries), and, of course, healthcare, resulting in the most central elements of our society turning towards the market over the community. Donald Cohen dives into this privatization of community, working through the disastrous effects of charter schools and private schools on our education system, before taking a step back in scale to discuss how socialized medicine gave us all of the benefits of the vaccines, while the privatized profits have contributed to all of the horrors of the variants, and what the privatization of the judicial system has looked like. They wrap up the interview by touching on how we can push back against rampant privatization, focusing on pressuring our local and federal governments on legislative and policy issues, and reminding the public of the surface of the state that protects us in everyday life.

And in the Fun Half: Eric Adams moves his claim over the NYPD to be one over every worker in New York City, Coby from Utah calls in to discuss the healthcare provider shortage, and Robert from Tampa follows that up with a discussion on municipal ownership of utilities. El Camino Chavez finally gets his chance to debate Sam, only to blow it out his mask, Dana Perino reminds us that if we want to conquer the elements, we need tanks, or, ya know, farming equipment. Manchin is done with shutting things down, the MR Crew admires Ted Cruz’s and Senator Hawley’s foresight on last January 5th, and Tyler from Indianapolis explores white supremacy and the military, plus, your calls and IMs!

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