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Archive for March 9th, 2011

A corporate coup d’etat in Michigan

Posted by Charles II on March 9, 2011

From DemocracyNow:

NAOMI KLEIN: … in Michigan, there is a bill that’s already passed the House. It’s on the verge of passing the Senate. And I’ll just read you some excerpts from it. It says that in the case of an economic crisis, that the governor has the authority to authorize the emergency manager—this is somebody who would be appointed—to reject, modify or terminate the terms of an existing contract or collective bargaining agreement, authorize the emergency manager for a municipal government—OK, so we’re not—we’re talking about towns, municipalities across the state—to disincorporate. So, an appointed official with the ability to dissolve an elected body, when they want to.

AMY GOODMAN: A municipal government.

NAOMI KLEIN: A municipal government. And it says specifically, “or dissolve the municipal government.” So we’ve seen this happening with school boards, saying, “OK, this is a failing school board. We’re taking over. We’re dissolving it. We’re canceling the contracts.” …So it starts with the school boards, and then it’s whole towns, whole cities, that could be subject to just being dissolved because there’s an economic crisis breaking collective bargaining agreements. It also specifies that—this bill specifies that an emergency manager can be an individual or a firm. Or a firm. So, the person who would be put in charge of this so-called failing town or municipality could actually be a corporation.

AMY GOODMAN: Whose government they dissolve, a company takes over.

NAOMI KLEIN: A company takes over. So, they have created, if this passes, the possibility for privatization of a whole town by fiat. And this is actually a trend in the contracting out of public services, where you do now have whole towns, like Sandy Springs in Georgia, run by private companies. It’s very lucrative. Why not? You start with just the water contract or the electricity contract, but eventually, why not privatize the whole town? So—

AMY GOODMAN: And what happens then? Where does democracy fit into that picture?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, this is an assault on democracy. It’s a frontal assault on democracy. It’s a kind of a corporate coup d’état at the municipal level.

I do not understand why most blogs are not covering this with great detail. The balance of powers in our Constitution is carefully ordered as a bulwark against the seizure of power by tyrants. States, for example, cannot suddenly declare that they will elect 10 Senators instead of 2. The federal government cannot, except under the conditions of most dire crisis, take control of state functions such as policing the streets. Just so, localities have powers that only a tyrant would wish to tamper with. States cannot order local school boards to close a particular school or to set property taxes at a certain level.

But tyrants are what have bloomed forth from the Republican Party. They are using an artificially created crisis to try to take away rights that were won with blood. They cannot persuade people of the rightness of their causes (such as school privatization) by demonstrating that their ways work better–because, simply, their methods do not work better–so they will now force their methods onto local governments.

Are Michiganders up to resisting this power grab?

Early results are not promising. It’s up at DK (thank you, Jocava), but only a few hundred people are even protesting in Lansing, and it’s not clear they even understand that what is being done is more than an assault on a single right, such as collective bargaining, but represents an attack against the foundations of what make a free people.

Posted in abuse of power, capitalism as cancer, Constitutional crisis, Tea Party | 9 Comments »

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