Archive for August, 2015

Public Private Partnership Government

August 7, 2015

The news this past week was of the partnership between the United Way (you know them) and LGS Staffing (a temporary labor provider). (Newark Advocate “Bus to New Albany jobs is possible for workers” 8-5-15) All the Grow Licking County success stories are having a bit of a challenge including those residents who reside in the Licking County seat of government. Newark City Government may collect part of the tax revenue from the industrial park workers’ wages in Etna but Newark residents certainly don’t reside there. Living in New Albany while working in their industrial park would be akin to having a champagne taste on a PBRB budget. So the subcontractor LGS Staffing (in partnership with the United Way) wants to sub subcontract public transportation (a bus) provided enough people sign up as temps with them. Quite a commitment, er? Will the bus have wi fi, individual cell phone battery chargers, and an on board restroom? Analysis finds this whole arrangement of precarious workers paying part of their precarious wages to their temporary job agency in order to get them to otherwise inaccessible employment to be rather regressive, to say the least. LGS could just as well have teamed up with some public housing coalition (or administration) to develop a village within the industrial park confines and an LGS company store from which the employee residents could buy all their needs. That would have required a permanent investment (and commitment) in the community, something a temporary agency is definitely not willing (or interested) in making. Besides, company housing and company store are so yesterday. Before the Great War (WWI), workers from Newark rode trains daily to mine coal in Perry County. If it was good enough for great, great grand dad, it’s good enough for me! Analysis finds the entire scheme, by the partnership of United Way/LGS, of charging for transportation to a minimum wage job while insisting that a minimum number of minimum wage workers be on board to be ludicrous. Not only is employment decided and designated by LGS (in terms of who works, when and where much as migrant farm laborers are “managed”) but the entire arrangement is about precarious work to begin with. In addition, although riding the same bus, solidarity between workers is already undermined by each rider continuously being apprehensive, and suspecting (blaming) the other if the arrangement falls through (how could you get pregnant and stop coming to work?). Analysis discovers this regressive (and oppressive) initiative to be not only indicative of the disingenuousness of its creators but also highlights the failure of the public private partnership government of Licking County. On the one hand, there is no end to the job creating success self-promoted by the private segment of the Chamber and its Grow Licking County – never within reach of any city residents. On the other hand, there is the abysmal failure of the public segment of this partnership, the county commissioners who prefer to remain silent partners and eschew any regional public transportation responsibility while actively cutting back on services – all in the name of fiscal prudence. Analysis has repeatedly emphasized the unsustainability of such a public private partnership government, one that favors the private profit at the expense of the public. Analysis doubts San Francisco Google employees contribute 12% of their pay back to Google for a bus ride to work.



August 3, 2015

When the SCOTUS Citizen United decision came down some years ago everyone wondered what impact this would have on democracy, elections. Speculation ran rampant from what the value of an individual vote was (in U.S. dollars) to a government totally independent of the window dressing votes – a politics of high finance. Now the dust seems to have settled and some of the nitty gritty, everyday actualities of this decision are coming to the surface. For one, we have the marketing of government much in the same manner as the marketing of utilities, hospitals or educational facilities. No, we’re not talking about government programs but private enterprises like electric or natural gas providers, hospitals or clinics, public, private, charter elementary schools. The choices are extremely limited and usually “predetermined” (in an accident most injured folks won’t rise up on the gurney and tell the EMS personnel that they want to go to Saint Ann’s and not Grant). Branding is what a large chunk of what private companies’ marketing/promotional budgets strive to establish. With government’s need to act with the speed of business, we see vague, L.L. Bean style feel good ads marketing a political party (“if that makes me one, well, it’s not such a bad thing”). In addition to this, we have the entire creation of entertainment venues in order to “soft sell” (subliminal marketing) the products of that political party – much as Disney or Pixar create animation movies to be able to market Star Wars Light Sabers or Buzz Lightyear PJ’s, or action FX movies with no plot or story specifically created for product placement or rollout (fashions, transportation or technology). Now we have the continuous marketing of Fox’s upcoming reality game show “the First Debate”. Only the top ten will make the stage! Who will it be? All the news sites (including NPR and PBS) have been promoting the roll out of this new entertainment venue much as they do for Harry Potter books or Star Trek releases. To say it is brilliant marketing would be an understatement. The projected summer reality show is cut from the same cloth as American Idol, Ultimate Survivor, Dancing With Cigars and other such “competitive” shows where winning or losing can make or break the entrants careers. And of course, it’s still winner take all! This is what Citizens United looks like in real time where democracy is now “enhanced” by being marketed with value added entertainment for a quality voting experience. These premiums make anything unbranded unsaleable and irrelevant (you can even bundle your vote). Governments create markets (don’t believe it? Check out NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Outlet Mall coming to 36/37 in Delaware county, as well as Newark’s own Canal Market District). With Citizens United we’ve begotten the marketing of democracy with brand loyalty determined to be THE critical issue of any election. Who will make the stage in Cleveland for Murdoch’s Fox network summer block buster? Who will have the most shelf space on stage? The front runner has the highest brand recognition, who will win the tenth spot? What will be Apple’s next tech “must have” differs little from who will make the debate ten. This fall, freedom will be on the ballot in the form of an amendment to the Ohio constitution granting marketing exclusivity to ten, and only ten, brands.