Liberals Are Back

FITE Newsletter #28

After suffering more than a decade of attacks for their belief that government services in private hands is bad for Americans, the tide is probably turning for liberals. That is a conclusion we draw from a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. (subscription only) More Americans now self identify as Democrats than Republicans after two years in which the opposite was true. But more astonishing, in only ONE MONTH the percentage of people self identifying as liberals has increased by nearly one third, from about 15% to 20%.

This is all the more astonishing given that the right wing has managed with relentless propaganda during the last 15 years make liberal into a curse word. It got so bad that even liberals themselves were afraid to call themselves that.

This reemergence of self described liberals together with the 2-years-long growth of self-described Democrats strongly suggests that Americans are getting fed up with right wing attempts to gut vital government services.

We can probably thank the fact that the right wing was given nearly dictatorial power in Washington to implement their radical program of privatizing all essential government functions. It is now possible for the public to clearly see that privatization of government services is mostly, maybe even always, is simply by another name.

It was, after all, a privatized security personnel that implemented the Abu Ghraib atrocities. In the interests of quickly fattening their bottom line, they recruited people with no experience in interrogation. They even hired a truck driver in one case who earned $1,000/day to “interrogate” prisoners who the Red Cross says were mostly innocent. (Coalition forces told Red Cross officials that 70% to 90% were innocent.)

On the home front CBS News broadcast this week an equally shocking revelation. It is now clear that Enron, a corporation that made billions privatizing the utility industry, knew it was actually savaging California grandmothers four years ago when its traders engineered astronomical increases in electric rates. Tapes from the trading room document the conversations of traders cursing the fact that they might have to give back the money they stole:

“They’re f——g taking all the money back from you guys?” complains one trader.

“All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?”

“Yeah, grandma Millie, man”

“Yeah, now she wants her f——g money back for all the power you’ve charged right up, jammed right up her a—— for f——g $250 a megawatt hour.”

And the tapes appear to link top Enron officials Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling to schemes that fueled the crisis.

It wasn’t just Enron. Citibank and others who funded Enron with endless millions knew – or should have known – the effects of Enron policies on the people of California. But quarterly profits took precedence.

The lesson Americans are now learning is that when private corporations perform public functions, corporate interest wins at the expense of the public good.

Charles Palson

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