TSA Cuts Yield Understaffing, Long Lines, Calls to Privatize… Sound Familiar?
This morning I read articles about Oklahoma’s decision to cut over $38 million from public schools, a WA state superintendent suggesting public schools should close in protest to their legislature’s decision to not meet his State’s constitutional mandate to fund schools, and the continuing budget battles in several state legislatures and county districts. The “starve the beast” theory seems to be working in public education the same way Yves Smith described the process in her introduction to an Alternet article in yesterday’s Naked Capitalism blog:
The TSA is a perfect target for privatization, since even at the best of times, it is not well liked. Who wants to be subjected to security theater like taking your shoes off? But this article provides an important overview of how various government functions are made incompetent by cutting their budgets without reducing their duties. That plays into the popular narrative that of course the private sector would be more “efficient” when the evidence is strongly supports the view that private sector contractors treat privatization as an opportunity for looting (contracting in the Iraq War was an extreme case, but there are plent of others, such as privatization of parking meters in Chicago and toll roads).
In the case of public education, its budgets are being cut while its duties and expectations are being increased! And, as endless posts on this blog and even more posts on Diane Ravitch’s blog report looting is continuing apace in public education and especially in the for-profit post-secondary schools where students are encouraged to charge their schooling on credit cards and required to sign agreements stating they cannot participate in class action suits. And in case you haven’t figured it out, here’s the privatization playbook as told to Alternate writer Michale Arria:
Noam Chomsky once described what he considered to be the standard technique of privatization: “defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.” Writing about the fight against TSA unionization in 2011, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine cited Scott Walker’s battle against Wisconsin workers as a valuable insight into how airline fights would go down:
1) Manufacture a fake budget crisis in order to frighten the state’s residents; 2) PR the false-crisis hard enough until it breaks out of the right-wing/libertarian pipeline and into the mainstream media; 3) Blame the fake crisis on a fake villain—“greedy” state employee unions—thereby pitting the public against state workers. That way, when Republicans pass new laws destroying teachers and firefighters unions, they’ll come off as heroes defending the public from greedy unions, rather than as sleazy mercenaries carrying out their corporate sponsors’ dirty work.
To many, it seems that’s the blueprint currently at work. On May 26, CNN ran an op-ed California Representative Darrell Issa calling for the privatization of the TSA. Issa wrote that:
“Ultimately, allowing private companies to take over administration of our airports’ security, under the TSA’s guidelines, would unleash the markets’ power of innovation to improve customer service and undo years of bureaucracy that has squandered billions of dollars dedicated to airport security and done much to make traveling more miserable.”
If this playbook sounds familiar, you HAVE been paying attention to the legislators behind the curtain who are doing everything possible to make public education look incompetent while propping up for-profit privatized services that do the job no better but cost less.