Disaster Capitalism: Coming Soon to a Bridge Near You!
It’s estimated that it would take $225 billion annually for the next 50 years (11 trillion dollars) to fix all the problems just in our surface transportation systems. That doesn’t even touch dams, levees, or our drinking water systems. Our infrastructure has been allowed to crumble, and who’s waltzing in to sweep it up at bargain basement prices? Well, the Carlyle Group and other civic-minded capitalists, of course.
Republicans want to reduce taxes and let the infrastructure go to hell so that the public supports selling it all off to for-profit companies. Democrats are too cowed to stand up for government functions that have been delegitimized by greed obsessed Republicans (and Blue Dogs and DLC Democrats). So… on to the predators. Today Morgan Stanley– and I assure you a more unscrupulous and cut throat firm you will never find– announced that it has raised $4 billion to target investments "that provide public goods or essential services in sectors such as transportation, energy and utilities, social infrastructure and communications." Global Infrastructure Partners (General Electric and Credit Suisse) have capped their infrastructure fund yesterday at $6.5 billion. A new Carlyle subsidiary, Carlyle Infrastructure Partners, formed specifically– and under heavy political protection– to rip off American taxpayers and ratepayers is investing $1.5 billion in transportation and water and wastewater facilities, including roads, bridges, tunnels, airport facilities, maritime ports, transit projects and other public benefit infrastructure in the US and Canada. Henderson Investors, CVC Capital Partners, Macquarie (Australia), Rreef, Citigroup, Ferrovial (Spain), Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Alinda are all up to the same thing.
The Blue Dog mantra these days is "offsets" — they want to know where the money is coming from (for everything but the war in Iraq) before they’ll vote anything. I suppose Hurricane Katrina was a "fiscally responsible" event. The result? Deterioration, leading to mass privatization.
McCain, Clinton and Obama each have plans to deal with our crumbling infrastructure, but as Scholars & Rogues notes, all are woefully inadequate to the scope of the problem. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius is increasingly being mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential candidate, and her op-ed suggesting that public pension funds be used to buy and build infrastructure argues well for her consideration for that job. By cutting out ravenous, bottom-line feeding private profiteers, private pension funds "could buy and build infrastructure, putting the profits to work for the retirement of workers, not for the benefit of Wall Street CEOs."
Or, we could sit around and wait for disaster to strike, and then give the Carlyle Group money to fix the Carlyle Group’s bridges and dams. Can’t wait to see them do for our drinking water systems what their entry into the nursing home business did for old people.