February 4, 2011 |
California's treasurer just announced that the state may need to begin issuing IOUs if the governor and legislature can't close the budget gap. And California's not the only place that's hurting. The Great Recession, hit not only businesses and individuals, but governments as well. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that 31 states are facing a combined shortfall for fiscal year 2011 of nearly $60 billion.
So, what's being done? "Cities and states across the nation are selling and leasing everything from airports to zoos -- a fire sale that could help plug budget holes now but worsen their financial woes over the long run," the Wall Street Journal reports. "California is looking to shed state office buildings. Milwaukee has proposed selling its water supply; in Chicago and New Haven, Conn., its parking meters. In Louisiana and Georgia, airports are up for grabs."
If this seems shocking, it shouldn't. For the past 30 years, there has been a deliberate effort to deregulate industry and to choke off federal support for public services and public spaces, paving the way for greater corporate control. The push to privatize is nothing new, it's just that our economic crisis is the latest opportunity. This fire sale is ignited during times of crisis -- what Naomi Klein referred to in The Shock Doctrine as "disaster capitalism," courtesy of Milton Friedman and his Chicago school disciples. "For more than three decades, Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy," she wrote, "waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the 'reforms' permanent."....continued.........