Episode

5/25 The Scourge Of Private Equity; Coal Miners’ Health Crisis w/ Brendan Ballou & Kim Kelly

May 25, 2023

It’s an EmMajority Report Thursday! She hosts Brendan Ballou, federal prosecutor and former Special Counsel for Private Equity in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, to discuss his recent book Plunder: Private Equity’s Plan To Pillage America. Then, she talks to freelance journalist Kim Kelly to discuss her recent piece in In These Times entitled “The Young Miners Dying Of An ‘Old Man’s Disease.'” First, Emma runs through updates on Ron’s DeBacle on Twitter Spaces as Trump’s lead grows, dwindling faith in Dianne Feinstein, the GOP’s repeal of Student Debt relief, January 6th sentencing, Medicaid coverage, and reports on Ken Paxton and from Ken Klippenstein, before diving into the incredible disaster that was Ron DeSantis’ presidential announcement on Twitter Spaces yesterday, from the unsurprising technical difficulties of Elon’s Twitter to DeSantis’ somehow overemphasizing his lack of charisma. Brendan Ballou then parses through what the hell private equity is, including their reliance on mass quantities of borrowed money, the quick turnover of the companies they purchase, and the ubiquitous presence of private equity across myriad industries, including those most central to our every day life (healthcare, infrastructure, communication). Next, Ballou walks through a few case studies of the decay wrought by private equity, looking at the Carlyle Group’s acquisition of ManorCare nursing homes and Sun Capital’s acquisition of Friendly’s, to demonstrate how private equity simultaneously cripples the capacities of the companies they purchase and shirk any accountability for the issues that come (whether that be the well-being of workers and patients or defaults and financial mismanagement). Wrapping up, they tackle the particular exploitation of pension funds by private equity groups, discuss private equity in relation to other labor issues in the US, and explore what can be done to push back. Kim Kelly then dives right into the rampant reemergence of Black lung amongst coal miners in central Appalachia, tackling why the disease disappeared after the 1977 mine safety act, and why the continuation of environmental and labor exploitation in the region has slowly exposed West Virginia and Kentucky miners to mass amounts of silica. After looking at the federal push for greater regulation, Kelly and Emma tackle the impact of union-busting in pushing these issues onto central Appalachia and wrap up by tackling what is being done to fight back.

And in the Fun Half: Emma is joined by Brandon Sutton and Matt Binder as they parse through the absurdly predictable failure that was Ron DeSantis’ campaign launch, and the incredible fodder it provided for Trump and his social media team. They also watch Jimmy Dore go all-in on the crypto-hawking game (just a few years late), Jason from Columbus has the Crew tackle a few important topics, and Emmit from Cleveland dives into the Supreme Court’s attack on environmental regulation. They also cover Nikki Haley’s floundering presidential campaign, and the hilarity coming out of the Texas statehouse, plus, your calls and IMs!

Check out Brendan’s book here: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/brendan-ballou/plunder/9781541702103/?lens=publicaffairs

Check out Kim’s piece here: https://inthesetimes.com/article/coal-miners-black-lung-young-dying-old-mans-disease-kim-kelly

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