The stakes are higher than ever

Publicly-provided services, already weakened by decades of neoliberal policies, are even more threatened in moments of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.  At a time when public revenue is down and demands on government are climbing, profiteers and privatizers have an opening to step in with false solutions to our urgent problems.

We saw “disaster capitalism” at work after Hurricane Katrina, when right-wingers including now-U.S. Vice President Mike Pence used the crisis to promote “Pro-Free Market Ideas,” including rolling back labor protections and giving parents vouchers to use at charter schools. Prior to Katrina, the Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco had already wanted to take over and privatize the school system. Privatization proponents used the hurricane to push through their agenda, and within 19 months New Orleans’s public school system had been replaced by privately-run charter schools funded with public money.

Today, in the time of the pandemic, privatization threatens education, the Postal Service, and other public services nationwide.