Private Sector


When Public and Private Meet, Extra Care Is Needed

By Donald Cohen

In the Public Interest

Across the nation, private companies are looking to take over public services. A legislative battle in Sacramento over a bill to privatize state trial courts epitomizes the promises and pitfalls of privatization.

Assembly Bill 566 (Wieckowski) would require that before contracting services out, courts must provide proof of cost savings, create employment standards, engage in a competitive bidding process, and undergo regular financial and performance audits bill sits on the governor's desk for signature or veto and the lobbying is intense.

Does Industry Have a Future in the Bay Area?

Zelda BronsteinBy Zelda Bronstein

In recent weeks a broad array of progressives has rallied opposition to Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated proposal to reduce the region's carbon emissions and still accommodate massive increases in jobs and population by encouraging dense infill development close to transit, i.e. Smart Growth. Drafted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Plan Bay Area claims to "be taking equity into account." However, the plan's own assessment concedes that its implementation "could result in residential or business disruption or displacement of substantial numbers of existing population and housing," and that those who cannot pay the "higher prices resulting from increased demand" for new housing and commercial space will be forced out.

Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising Digital Big Brother

Norman SolomanBy Norman Soloman

A terrible formula has taken hold:
warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.

"National security" agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to make Big Brother a reality. "Of the estimated $80 billion the government will spend on intelligence this year, most is spent on private contractors," the New York Times noted. The synergy is great for war-crazed snoops in Washington and profit-crazed moguls in Silicon Valley, but poisonous for civil liberties and democracy.

Digital Grab: Corporate Power Has Seized the Internet

By Norman Solomon

If your daily routine took you from one homegrown organic garden to another, bypassing vast fields choked with pesticides, you might feel pretty good about the current state of agriculture.

If your daily routine takes you from one noncommercial progressive website to another, you might feel pretty good about the current state of the Internet.

But while mass media have supplied endless raptures about a digital revolution, corporate power has seized the Internet - and the anti-democratic grip is tightening every day.

Fixing the Economy's Real Problem

By Robert Reich

"Our biggest problems over the next ten years are not deficits," the President told House Republicans Wednesday, according to those who attended the meeting.

The President needs to deliver the same message to the public, loudly and clearly. The biggest problems we face are unemployment, stagnant wages, slow growth, and widening inequality - not deficits. The major goal must be to get jobs and wages back, not balance the budget.

Paul Ryan's budget plan - essentially, the House Republican plan - is designed to lure the White House and Democrats, and the American public, into a debate over how to balance the federal budget in ten years, not over whether it's worth doing.

The American Dream: A Conspiracy Fact

By Tina Dupuy

I've been assured my in-laws don't read my column. However, because of their mix of shame, guilt and blame, I'll be vague on some details. They've fallen on hard times. No one wants to talk about it, let alone have it written about and syndicated.

But I think their story is illustrative:

My in-laws live in a generic suburb of modest mid-century tract homes in the middle of strip mall sprawl. They have a well-attended lawn; two mid-range cars in the driveway, a loyal Lab mix sleeping on the porch. They both worked in middle management in not-important-enough-to-name small businesses tangentially related to serving the housing industry for over 20 years each. They paid off their mortgage. Their son, my husband, was the first in their family to attend college. During the housing boom they looked at the massive amount their small three-bedroom home was worth and opted not to partake in the equity, but knew it meant they were secure. The future was bright.

In short: They were living every part of the real American Dream. Not the grandiose one where we're all millionaires or soon-to-be millionaires. The one where we all have a job, a home and our kids are better off than we were. My in-laws had that.

Of Biblical Proportions: Inequality and Poverty Wages

By Rev. Jim Conn

My friend pastors a vibrant congregation in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles. Her people reflect the neighborhood and the church worships in both Spanish and English. In a conversation this week I asked her how her folks were doing. Her voice dropped, and she shook her head. "There are no jobs," she said, "and the ones who work can only get part-time hours." With dismay, she said, "I don't know how they are making it."

What Ails American Higher Education?

By Steve Hochstadt

American higher education has some big problems. We still have a world-class network of colleges and universities. Students from less developed and from highly developed nations come to the US to get BAs and advanced degrees. Our teaching practices are copied, our researchers have made English a universal scientific language, and our graduates can compete across the globe.

The hundreds of small colleges scattered across the US represent a unique American contribution to undergraduate education, which is being copied in Europe. Not only has American higher education led the world in the integration of women and minorities into faculties and administration, but American scholars have developed the broadest critique of economic inequality, abuse of political authority, and social discrimination.