So Many Lies From Which to Choose: Privatization and Innovation


I guess you know that the largest private employer in the world is WalMart.   Do you know what number two is?  I didn’t either.  But as I was looking into the private prison issue I discovered this fun fact: the UK “global security” corporation G4S is the second largest private-sector employer in the world with something like 630,000 employees.  Hey, do you know what a Public Limited Company is?  That’s what G4S is.  That’s what Pearson is.  Look it up and think on it “American style.”

Interesting, isn’t it?

But more to the point here, what is being discovered, though I’m not sure anyone who makes a difference in politics or in the business of social control cares (that it’s discovered), is that private prisons are a terrible idea generally but even more so specifically in an economic system that works its tail off to make money by cutting costs and seeking out legal loopholes that allow them to cut corners as well.

But it is a MAMMOTH business concern and as such it means that politics plays the game its way.  What’s instructive is that private prisons fail in the very way they find to insinuate themselves into the public acceptance: they claim (and the state governments claim) they are efficient and save money.  They do not save the states or its citizens any money and often cost more while the state even allows them to choose which prisoners they deem able to imprison for a profit.

For the “care” of humans let’s agree that private corporations have no concern.  Or the same concern they have for the care of pigs on the hog farm–just enough to get them to market at a profit.  You might see the callous cynicism of corporate care in this analogy by seeing how it makes use of an “angel” of death like Temple Grandin who coaches the industry on how to care and slaughter cattle so as to make the poor doomed beasts not so scared of their horrific existence.  Happy Pigs Taste Good!

I’m mixing things up a bit, per usual, but I can see the ways they connect.

Look business templates are “systems” approaches.  What works (profits) in one industry, sector, pasture, classroom, can work in other places because all things can be treated as if they were similar large systems.

Here’s the quote that started my thinking today:

Industry-funded studies often conclude that states can save money by using private prisons. However, state-funded studies have found that private prisons keep only low-cost inmates and send others back to state-run prisons.

The “privatization” myth is a kind of template for take-over, not for success (unless success is take-over).   When we hear “efficiency” and “profit” we have been trained to think–“that sounds good!”  But these terms do not serve us.  They serve the system and the tiny cadre of owners who manage those systems.  After students are finally “penned” up for profit rather than “industrialization” we will need to hire Temple Grandin to make them Happy in their Cages.

Another point about “studies”–they choose the factors to be studied and they choose the outcomes by choosing the method and content to be studied.  “Garbage in, garbage out.”


I wrote what follows in response to a post on FB about parents forming “unions” to try to take advantage of proposed “parent trigger” legislation that allows parents to decide whether the public school that serves them should remain “status quo” or should become a Charter organization.  This is the bait and switch of “local control”–you can locally decide to defund your public school if you want–but you will not manage the Charter that replaces it and it will not be accountable to you.  This is just another tactic to co-opt the middle class to turn against government.  As my friend Matt says, “getting parents to do the dirty work.”

You cannot play the game by their rules and manipulate their systems to “win.” What we must realize is that all of these maneuvers have been specifically designed to create a kind of Tea Party response to government. But, I’m sure you are aware that it is via the government that people are encouraged to dislike the government. Parent Trigger is a Tea Party method.

Think of this like the faux GOP “big government” idea. If we believe in a social democracy that means we believe in a welfare democracy where we acknowledge that circumstance is unfair and that only the biggest among us (govt) can offer some kind of balance. GOP says that’s limiting and “nanny”; we all know that govt favors business more and that this is the actual “nanny” now. But the idea persists that govt is giving away “our” money to the shiftless, minority, immigrant, freeloader, etc. That’s the Tea Party; that’s Parent Trigger.

So, “big govt” is “real” in that we agree that the govt SHOULD help balance the circumstantial scales that are continually unbalanced by “capital accumulators” who keep their money rather than putting into our economic and social systems. But, with a Corporate anti-tax strategy of over 40 years in place, with strategies that will become more active as those social failsafes are removed, we have seeded (and ceded) our social democracy with (to) corporate welfare haters. So now, those in charge of government, all of them, believe that the next phase is complete corporate market control, complete domination of the population through the hypnosis of advertising media, complete “elite” control of all public institutions in the form of corporate control and totalizing hierarchy (this is why the church is not up in arms against any of this–it opens the door wide to more opportunity for that hierarchy). A complete destabilization is how they believe capitalism thrives and they are believers in capitalism NOT democracy. And in these harrowing times the cream rises and will survive and if you can’t that’s not their fault. I find it strangely akin to the missionary idea that the word is spread NOT to save souls per se, but to hasten the end…to get the gospel to the whole world is the Rapture Trigger.

Finally, with this kind of legislator in the statehouses, either complicit in the take over or–like the girl scout cookie idiot–simply a useful rube, they have “upped the ante” on “big govt”–in effect they have brilliantly used the mechanisms of the social democratic state to overload the population with useless rules and regulations and tests in order to piss everyone off at Government.

This is government designed to fail for the purpose of corporate control of all aspects of social management.

It is brilliant and it is succeeding.

Further to this point, attacking schools is the way that government (via business systems templates) now attacks the “middle class” in its soul–the middle class is the only class that believes in the “good” society. The upper does not care for public education–doesn’t need it and likely finds it a degrading system beneath them. The lower class hates school and knows that it is not a leveling mechanism–it replicates the society that offers them nothing but “slavery” and entertainment and processed foods.

So, now you are hating government, too. Now you are for “local” control and that the same laws that will allow your schoolhouse rocks idea of the good life are really intended to flood the education market with corporate “competition”–but this is not even real–it’s simply a way to give elites more work and reduce the working class inclusion even further.


Another point to make that seems important in relation to all of this: Innovation is the lie that serves capital.  You’ve been bombarded now with the idea that government smothers innovation and that capital competition promotes it.  What we do not discuss is what kind of innovation?

Innovation is simply novelty.  Capitalism loves novelty–the shiny temptation of the new and improved creates the desire to consume.  Innovation in a capital economy serves the capital economy.

So, and I’ve used this before, like the fortune cookie tag you append (“in bed”) so too you should append “for business profit” to all ideas of innovation.  That means they will not serve your as a general benefit (and are not intended to).

Medical research into diabetes “for profit.”  Easing your pain, incidental and really not even necessary.

Testing students 4 times a year “for profit.”

Fracking “for profit.”

Space travel for profit.

Cancer research for profit–for grant funding–for profit.

Educational software/hardware for profit

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Private prisons/schools (interesting how these are always paired now) for profit.

Innovation serves the frame of profit.  It has one measure–profit.

All else be damned, literally.


Photo Credit: Jo Jakeman

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  1. S.S. February 22, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    As I was reading this I had a thought about our “democratic” system, specifically about our election process. Do you think that by putting a price tag on candidacy we have have allowed the corporate infiltration of government to happen?

    I was trying to think of this causally. Our main forms of media (print and TV) start using advertisements to pay for costs and make profit, so in order to promote yourself as a leader you need money for advertising. Not only do you need to generate money to pay for your advertising, but someone is making a profit off your campaign. This all evolves into corporate sponsorships, which allow both candidate and corporation to profit.

    These systems (government and corporate) have become one and the same – I’m just trying to rewind and understand how this happened!

  2. Douglas Storm February 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    yes…there is nothing democratic about money and our elections are purely fictitious changing of the guard.


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