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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
10 Feb 2016
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27 Jan 2016
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Privatization: The Road to Hell


Privatization: The Road to Hell

Billionaires are different from you and me, for obvious reasons, including the fact that they buy much pricier baubles than we do.

A sleek car costing $100,000? Why, for them, that's just an easy impulse purchase. A few million bucks for a Matisse original? Go ahead — it'll liven up the hallway. How about throwing a fat wad of cash at a university to get an academic chair named for you? Sure, it's all part of the fun of living in BillionaireLand.

Then there is the top crust of the upper-crust — such megalomaniacal megabillionaires as the Koch brothers. Using money from their industrial conglomerate, their foundation and their personal fortunes, these two far-out, laissez-faire extremists are literally buying public policy. Their purchases of everything from politicians to the tea party help them push the privatization of all things public and the elimination of pesky regulations and taxes that crimp their style.

To advance their plutocratic privatization cause, brother Charles has even gone on a shopping spree for an invaluable bauble that most of us didn't even know was for sale: academic freedom. And it's surprisingly cheap!

For only $1.5 million, Koch bought a big chunk of the economics department of Florida State University a couple of years ago. His donation gives him control of a new "academic" program at this public institution to indoctrinate students in his self-serving political theories.

The billionaire gets to screen all applicants, veto any he deems insufficiently ideological, and sign off on all new hires. Also, the department head must submit yearly reports to Koch about the faculty's speeches, publications and classes, and he evaluates the faculty based on "objectives" that he sets.

Charles has made similar purchases of academic freedom at two other state universities, Clemson and West Virginia. Also, in a May 20 piece at, investigative researcher Lee Fang reveals that Koch has paid $419,000 to buy into Brown University's "political theory project," $3.6 million to establish Troy University's "center for political economy" and $700,000 for a piece of Utah State's Huntsman School of Business, which now has the "Charles G.

Koch Professor of Political Economy."

Imagine the screams of outrage we'd hear from the Kochs if a labor union were doing this.

A recent article in The Onion, the satirical newsweekly, printed a downsize-big-government spoof that Charles and David would love to turn into reality. The parody disclosed that President Obama had come up with a surefire plan to balance the federal budget: Rob Fort Knox! "I've got the blueprints," Obama is quoted as saying, "and I think I found a way out through a drainage pipe."

Unfortunately, with today's political climate dominated by howling winds from the far-right fringe, there's no longer any room in American culture for satire. Sure enough, some laissez-faire extremists at such Koch-funded corporate fronts as Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation are presently howling for the government to sell all of America's gold stored in Fort Knox. Noting that we have billions worth of bullion in the vaults, a fellow from Heritage made this keen observation: "It's just sort of sitting there."

Uh, yeah, professor. Like Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Lincoln Memorial and other national assets — being there is the point.

Yet these ivory tower ideologues are using the current brouhaha over the budget deficit as an opening to push their loopiest fantasies of selling off all of America's public properties, facilities, systems and treasures to create a no-government, plutocratic paradise. Just spread our public goods out on tables, like a flea market from hell, and invite the global rich to buy it all.

For example, a fellow from another Koch-funded front, the American Enterprise Institute, observes that the government could raise billions of dollars to retire that pesky deficit simply by selling our interstate highway system. Americans would then have to pay tolls forever to the corporate owners, but hey, he exclaims, remember that tolls "work for the River Styx, why not the Beltway?"

What a perfect metaphor for privatization! In ancient mythology, dead souls must pay a toll to be ferried across the River Styx and enter the depths of hell.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



8 Comments | Post Comment
First off, I couldn't find anywhere on the Cato Institute's website where they advocate to sell any of Fort Knox's gold, but I can tell you that if they did, they would surely provide a much better reason than yours for keeping it by comparing it to Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon.

Secondly, you can't stand the idea of forever paying tolls to private highway operators (which has already been proven to vastly improve the quality of the roads and services to the users), but approve of forever paying federal gas taxes in your state which then goes to DC to be doled out to other states based on Congressional favoritism???

Here's a newsflash for you: Privatization is ALWAYS a better option than Government-operated. Private industries do EVERYTHING better than the Government, because it is real people's real money on the line. Politicians spend other people's money, so they don't care how well it gets spent. Private industry will always provide better services at a cheaper price than Government could even dream of. If you don't think this is the case, then contact John Stossel here on the Creators website because he owes you some money.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jon
Wed May 25, 2011 6:40 AM
Re: Jon

I for one look forward to a day where the police are privatized, taking orders from an MBA on who to protect, and whether they've paid their safety dues. Lord knows private hospitals kill more patients, but I for one find sick people disconcerting. And prisons! Private ones are by far the most dangerous, but hey I hate prisoners too.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Nick
Wed May 25, 2011 9:03 PM
Mr. Hightower, do you still think we have a chance against these people? They have always been working behind the scenes to undermine our democracy. They are now clearly operating in full view. Do you think it is because they have already destroyed our country and its democracy and we all just don't know it yet? With current decisions by the Supreme Court, and a President elected from the left acting like he never knew us, I think it is over. I know I'm a pessimist here, but things do look grim, don't they?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Carol Crown
Thu May 26, 2011 6:49 AM
Re: Jon
Politicians spend our money but are accountable to us, not so with private. If private is so much better why are private insurance companies bleeding us dry and giving precious little in return. Here in Florida theses crooks bailed out of the state after having to pay for losses in some of the big hurricanes. It was their BUSINESS to play the odds!!! Get the hell out of that business if you can't play by the rules. Private schools are not proving to be any better than public. Some places are finding they will not even account to us for the public money they get. Public money is behind the creation of the internet, behind the development of many new drugs, behind the mighty bailout of your great private businesses. Please get real, Jon, "private" is a fraud.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Carol Crown
Thu May 26, 2011 7:06 AM
Re: Jon If, Hightower was around at the formation of Our Republic, he would have sneered at all of the wealthy Patriots who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, to provide a Country in which Hightower is free to spew lies, distortions and vitriol at the very capitalist system that provides his forum to exercise his 1st Amendment right to speak.
Comment: #5
Posted by: David Henricks
Thu May 26, 2011 2:35 PM
Mr Hendricks do you know what the ulterior motive of the Koch brothers is???Personally idon't believe they are up to anything good.I dare say that you and others like you are naive as hell as to what these people stand for.
Comment: #6
Posted by: ctharwick
Fri May 27, 2011 1:34 PM
Re: ctharwick What ARE the "ulterior motives" of the Koch Brothers. Are you psychotic, I mean psychic (I get those confused)?
Comment: #7
Posted by: David Henricks
Sat May 28, 2011 10:03 PM
This is cool to see smart people debating issues here. Some favor one position and others favor another position, but this political debate might be what the founders wanted. I never watched Bill Moyers but happened to catch his last show and saw Jim Hightower on there. I'm glad I did because I had not been aware of Hightower before.
My idea is that, as Hightower points out, universities are being tampered with. If our university students cannot learn good information, that will hurt the future of our country.
To give the Koch brothers the benefit of the doubt, I would believe their motives are to try to help the country in some way, but it seems to be an aristocratic attitude that suggests people are children who need to be led and controlled by the smart people, the "lords" as they would have been called during the years of our founders. The so called "republic" that people harp about was based on the fact that most citizens in 1776 could not read or write and they did not even have books. Now, we can have a democracy that gives everyone a chance to opine and the only obstacle will be if media becomes corrupt (or the universities become corrupt) thereby limiting information people need to make decisions.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Mike Hayne
Sun May 29, 2011 10:23 AM
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