John Tirman, executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, writes that “The worldview of Trump and those he’s bringing into government is one in which seeking private interest is paramount, not only as a business aspiration but as a governing ideology.”
In other words, Trump wants to privatize everything. Trump didn’t invent this idea of course. Tirman points out that,
“There has long been an ideological divide in U.S. politics in which liberals see the production and protection of public goods as a rightful — though not exclusive — function of government, while conservatives deplore interference in the free, private market.”
So yes, Republicans have been dutifully applying this impulse for awhile now, trying to privatize things for awhile now, particular our public schools, and the objective there, as noted above, is to make money for the people involved.
And of course, we all know very well their plans for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Trump promised not to eliminate them, a fact which Bernie Sanders has helpfully brought to the president-elect’s attention.
The problem, of course, is that we don’t get to vote for a corporation’s board of directors or for CEOs. Privatization – putting the public good in the hands of corporations, is a blow to democracy. Political power no longer derives from the will of the governed but from unelectable corporate hierarchies.
The consequences to the governed are, to say the least, unpalatable, as America becomes a capitalist playground, a source of unending wealth, monetized and returned not to us, but to those same unelectable corporate hierarchies.
Tirman provides an example:
Turning over public lands to the states would in many cases result in “development” — commercial enterprise, resource extraction, grazing, roads and sell-offs of land — far beyond what is already granted on federal lands. The rationale for doing so can be gleaned from the Bundy family’s notorious confrontations with federal officials, first over nonpayment of grazing fees on public lands near their ranch in Nevada, then the armed occupation with a few others of an Oregon wildlife refuge. In each case the Bundys and their cohort insisted they wanted to “return” lands to the people from the unjust ownership of the federal government.
It was rarely noted at the time that “the people” already do have sovereignty over those lands, with the Park Service or the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management — public agencies — as their stewards. There are no other “people” to “return” the lands to, unless one counts indigenous tribes, but of course the Bundys and their kind aren’t thinking that way. A radical change in status of public lands is a blow to the idea of America being in part a “commonwealth” — natural resources that are shared by all.
This is likely why Jason Chaffetz’s opposition to what he characterizes as President Obama’s “imposition” of the “unwanted” Midnight Monument in Utah. If those acres are a national monument, they are not available to be economically exploited, in other words, parceled off for über-capitalistic development of one kind or another, including mining a pristine tract of land that belongs to all Americans.
In fact, Chaffetz explains this is precisely his complaint, citing what he says is Obama’s disregard for “the economic development and multi-use provisions necessary for a balanced compromise.”
Tirman concludes as I do here, that “If the trajectory of 2016 continues through Trump’s presidency, the “commons,” the public sphere and the values of shared responsibility, will be tested as never before.”
Eventually, it is possible our government could be privatized. Arguably, with the election of Donald Trump, that has already happened. It is not that far-fetched. Republicans love eliminating government-run programs in order to privatize them, and Republicans in Congress have already shown they work for corporate interests rather than “we the people.”
Trump will hold the executive branch, the GOP controls the legislative, and once Trump begins his term, together they will parlay their unconstitutional act of not voting on President Obama’s nominee, the Judicial as well.
There will be very little then stopping them from carrying out their grand capitalist plundering exercise at the public’s expense.