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Est. April 5, 2002
February 15, 2018 - Issue 729

It’s No Surprise that Trump
Privatizing the United States


"When Trump's destruction of social programs to
save money for his military and defense is complete,
he will have a much bigger purse to hand over to
the private corporations, which are waiting in the
wings to take over only the most lucrative functions
of government.  The military is one of the biggest
and he is making that purse bigger."

This week, commentators are concentrating on Donald Trump’s plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure, with his fervid hope that Corporate America will take up its opportunity to do well by doing good, taking a big part in improving the systems that make the nation livable.

As one columnist noted, Trump’s plan is no plan at all. Instead of $1.5 trillion for infrastructure, he has set aside $200 billion, which barely scratches the surface of repairing, rebuilding, or renovating such things as roads, bridges, railroads, public transportation, water systems, sewage treatment systems, airports and airline services, and agencies that see to the protection of the environment. At least one economist estimated that it would cost some $20 trillion to improve just rail transportation to the level enjoyed by the Chinese in 2018.

Over the past three or four generations, often without anyone noticing, there has been an inexorable trend toward privatizing anything in the government that contains a large pool of money: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the U.S. Postal Service, anything to do with military or defense, education at all levels, the prison system at all levels, and anything that smacks of social services or anything that is a benefit to the people.

Under the Trump Administration, this has only become a little more obvious. In the case of infrastructure, his paltry $200 billion could be an effort to allow the government (his government) to throw up its hands and say that there isn’t enough money to do all that work, so most of it must be privatized.

What does privatize mean? It means any function of government that can be done by a private contractor, which would be doing the work solely for making a profit. These functions would be carried out by corporate contractors that often can do business under the radar of either federal or local laws or under the U.S. Constitution.

Two of the most obviously abused are the military and the vast U.S. prison system, from the county jail, to the federal prisons. And, we can even include the operation of the prison of a most weird status, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Look for everything that can be privatized being privatized. Even though this is not the express thrust of Trump’s rule, he has turned out to be a rather orthodox Republican of the right-wing stripe, with great animus to human beings who, if they do not exist to be exploited, what are they for? It has been the philosophy of the GOP for many decades to ensure the welfare of the rich and the corporations, leaving the people, especially the impoverished and the working poor, to survive on their own.

Since Trump does not have a clue (nor does he care to know) about how the majority of more than 300 million live in America, the piteous welfare of millions will never show up in a report on Trump’s desk. For him and most of the GOP, they might as well not exist. That must be the reason he could suggest this week that the food stamp program that allows citizens who need them should be overturned in favor of a program that would provide the needy with a basket of canned goods.

In other words, no fresh food for those folks who shouldn’t even exist. They will just have to take what is given them out of a box of “unperishable” foods, which means that most of it will provide little in the way of nutrition that will allow adults to maintain health or children to grow into healthy and productive adults. The president has suggested this in the wake of his having increased the military-defense budget to about $700 billion, to what he claims will begin to restore the strength of the military.

He seems to be obsessed with things military, even though he escaped the draft in the Vietnam War era, by claiming bone spurs. Since then, however, he has somehow found his courage to send other people’s sons and daughters into harm’s way in endless and pointless wars (unless, of course, you are talking about protecting the assets and resources of Corporate America that happen to lie in the earth in countries around the world). He seems to love the idea of war and winning wars again and even wants to host a mighty military parade to show off his weaponry, just like the rulers of aggressive nations of the 19th Century and early 20th Century. He may not get his parade, because most, including thoughtful generals, are against it.

Although he is not the first president by a long shot to use the military for economic purposes, his impulses lean toward putting his money into war and preparation for war. It’s a dangerous combination for any country. It’s essentially what happened to the Soviet Union. In trying to keep up militarily with the U.S. during the long Cold War, it impoverished its people and no nation has been able to survive the impoverishment of its people. Trump is moving the U.S. in that direction, sooner rather than later.

When his destruction of social programs to save money for his military and defense is complete, he will have a much bigger purse to hand over to the private corporations, which are waiting in the wings to take over only the most lucrative functions of government. The military is one of the biggest and he is making that purse bigger.

By the time he’s through, the social programs will not be anything that the corporations want, because they will have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves. The money will not be there, so they’ll leave those to government agencies. What’s left will be the piles of the most money: military and defense, education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the postal service, and hugely expensive systems like transportation (rail, airports, and highways).

Trump is the real capper in America’s impulse, mostly driven by GOP philosophy of governing over the past half-century, to hand over whatever is possible to the corporations. He is a moderately successful businessman who was elected president largely on that basis, even though he is nowhere near as successful as he has claimed to be. He knows nothing about governing and more of the same Trump policies are sure to plunge the nation into disaster. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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David A. Love, JD
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