Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Roads To Riches

by Emi­ly Thorn­ton

Why investors are clam­or­ing to take over Amer­i­ca’s high­ways, bridges, and airports—and why the pub­lic should be ner­vous

Steve Hogan was in a bind. The exec­u­tive direc­tor of Col­orado’s North­west Park­way Pub­lic High­way Author­i­ty had run up $416 mil­lion in debt to build the 10-mile toll road between north Den­ver and the Boul­der Turn­pike, and he was start­ing to wor­ry about the high pay­ments. So he tried to refi­nance, ask­ing bankers in late 2005 to pitch investors on new, low­er-inter­est-rate bonds. But none of the hun­dreds of investors can­vassed was inter­est­ed.

Then, one day last spring, Hogan got a let­ter from Mor­gan Stan­ley (MS ) that promised to solve all of his prob­lems. The bank sug­gest­ed Hogan could lease the road to a pri­vate investor and raise enough mon­ey to pay off the whole chunk of debt. Now Hogan, after being inun­dat­ed with pro­pos­als, is in hot-and-heavy nego­ti­a­tions with a team of bid­ders from Por­tu­gal and Brazil. “We lit­er­al­ly got respons­es from around the world,” he says.

In the past year, banks and pri­vate invest­ment firms have fall­en in love with pub­lic infra­struc­ture. They’re smit­ten by the rich cash flows that roads, bridges, air­ports, park­ing garages, and ship­ping ports generate—and the monop­o­lis­tic advan­tages that keep those cash flows as steady as a beat­ing heart. Firms are so enam­ored, in fact, that they’re begin­ning to con­sid­er infra­struc­ture a brand new asset class in itself.

With state and local lead­ers scram­bling for cash to solve short-term fis­cal prob­lems, the con­di­tions are ripe for an unprece­dent­ed burst of buy­ing and sell­ing. All told, some $100 bil­lion worth of pub­lic prop­er­ty could change hands in the next two years, up from less than $7 bil­lion over the past two years; a lease for the Penn­syl­va­nia Turn­pike could go for more than $30 bil­lion all by itself. “There’s a lot of val­ue trapped in these assets,” says Mark Flo­ri­an, head of North Amer­i­can infra­struc­ture bank­ing at Gold­man, Sachs & Co (GS ).

There are some advan­tages to pri­vate con­trol of roads, util­i­ties, lot­ter­ies, park­ing garages, water sys­tems, air­ports, and oth­er prop­er­ties. To pay for upkeep, pri­vate firms can raise rates at the toll­booth with­out fear of being penal­ized in the vot­ing booth. Pri­va­teers are also freer to exper­i­ment with ideas like peak pric­ing, a mar­ket-based approach to reliev­ing traf­fic jams. And gov­ern­ments are mak­ing use of the cash they’re pulling in—balancing bud­gets, retir­ing debt, invest­ing in social pro­grams, and on and on.

But are investors get­ting an even bet­ter deal? It’s a ques­tion with major pol­i­cy impli­ca­tions as gov­ern­ments relin­quish con­trol of major pub­lic assets for years to come. The aggres­sive toll hikes embed­ded in deals all but guar­an­tee pain for low­er-income citizens—and enor­mous prof­its for the buy­ers. For exam­ple, the investors in the $3.8 bil­lion deal for the Indi­ana Toll Road, struck in 2006, could break even in year 15 of the 75-year lease, on the way to reap­ing as much as $21 bil­lion in prof­its, esti­mates Mer­rill Lynch & Co. (MER ) What’s more, some pub­lic inter­est groups com­plain that the rev­enue from the high­er tolls inflict­ed on all cit­i­zens will ben­e­fit only a hand­ful of pri­vate investors, not the com­mon­weal (see BusinessWeek.com, 4/27/07, “A Gold­en Gate for Investors”).

There’s also rea­son to wor­ry about the qual­i­ty of ser­vice on deals that can span 100 years. The new­ly pri­vate toll roads are being man­aged well now, but own­ers could sell them to oth­er par­ties that might not oper­ate them as capa­bly in the future. Already, the expe­ri­ence out­side of toll roads has been mixed: The Atlanta city water sys­tem, for exam­ple, was so poor­ly man­aged by pri­vate own­ers that the gov­ern­ment reclaimed it.

Such con­cerns weigh on the minds of pub­lic offi­cials like Hogan. He intends to nego­ti­ate aggres­sive­ly with cor­po­rate suit­ors and has decreed that the buy­er must share future toll-hike rev­enues with the local gov­ern­ments that built the high­way. But with the mar­ket for infra­struc­ture still in its infan­cy, every deal is dif­fer­ent. The ide­al blend of up-front pay­ment, toll hikes, and rev­enue shar­ing has­n’t been found.

The nascent mar­ket in roads and bridges in the U.S. fol­lows the shift toward pri­va­ti­za­tion in Europe and Aus­tralia that began with British Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatch­er in the 1980s. It took longer to devel­op in the U.S. because of the $383 bil­lion munic­i­pal bond mar­ket, which has been an effi­cient source of cap­i­tal for gov­ern­ments over the years.

But with the explo­sion of mon­ey flow­ing into pri­vate invest­ments recent­ly, fund man­agers have been explor­ing the fringes of the invest­ing world in search of fresh oppor­tu­ni­ties. Now a slew of Wall Street firms—Goldman, Mor­gan Stan­ley, the Car­lyle Group, Cit­i­group, and many others—is pil­ing into infra­struc­ture, fol­low­ing the lead of pio­neers like Aus­trali­a’s Mac­quar­ie Group. Rob Collins, head of infra­struc­ture merg­ers and acqui­si­tions at Mor­gan Stan­ley, esti­mates that 30 funds are being raised around the world that could wield as much as $500 bil­lion in buy­ing pow­er for U.S. assets.

Many investors think of infra­struc­ture invest­ing as a nat­ur­al exten­sion of the pri­vate equi­ty mod­el, which is based on rich cash flows and lots of debt. But there are impor­tant dif­fer­ences. Pri­vate equi­ty deals typ­i­cal­ly play out over 5 to 10 years; infra­struc­ture deals run for decades. And the risk lev­els are vast­ly dif­fer­ent. Infra­struc­ture is ultra-low-risk because com­pe­ti­tion is lim­it­ed by a host of forces that make it dif­fi­cult to build, say, a rival toll road. With cap­tive cus­tomers, the cash flows are vir­tu­al­ly guar­an­teed. The only major vari­ables are the ini­tial prices paid, the amount of debt used for financ­ing, and the pace and mag­ni­tude of toll hikes—easy things for Wall Street to mod­el. “With each pass­ing week, there are more par­ties express­ing unso­licit­ed inter­est in some kind of a finan­cial trans­ac­tion that will involve one of our assets direct­ly or indi­rect­ly,” says Antho­ny R. Cos­cia, chair­man of the Port Author­i­ty of New York & New Jer­sey.

Firms are even begin­ning to mar­ket infra­struc­ture to investors as a sep­a­rate asset class, safe like high-grade bonds but with stock mar­ket-like returns—and no cor­re­la­tion with either. The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500-stock index has returned about 10% a year, count­ing div­i­dends, since 1926. Bonds have returned about 5%. Firms say infra­struc­ture will beat both, and with­out hav­ing to sweat out mar­ket dips along the way. That’s a huge sell­ing point at a time when stock, bond, and com­mod­i­ty mar­kets around the world are becom­ing increas­ing­ly inter­con­nect­ed.

Investors can’t get in fast enough. They recent­ly del­uged Gold­man Sachs with $6.5 bil­lion for its new infra­struc­ture fund, more than twice the $3 bil­lion it was seek­ing. “We’re using [infra­struc­ture] as a fixed-income proxy,” says William R. Atwood, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Illi­nois State Board of Invest­ment, who plans to invest $600 mil­lion to $650 mil­lion, or 5% of its port­fo­lio, in infra­struc­ture funds over the next three years. “We’re hop­ing to get 11% to 12% returns and low­er risk.” Pen­sion funds in par­tic­u­lar like the long-term invest­ment hori­zons, which match their fund­ing needs well. Infra­struc­ture “deliv­ers sim­i­lar yield expec­ta­tions to high-yield bonds and real estate, with less risk,” says Cyn­thia F. Steer, chief research strate­gist at pen­sion con­sult­ing firm Roger­scasey.

On the oth­er side of the bar­gain­ing table from the invest­ment firms sit strug­gling gov­ern­ments sud­den­ly amenable to the idea of sell­ing con­trol of assets to solve short-term prob­lems. The bur­den of main­tain­ing roads, bridges, and oth­er facil­i­ties, ma
ny built dur­ing the 1950s, is becom­ing dif­fi­cult to bear. Fed­er­al, state, and local gov­ern­ments need to spend an esti­mat­ed $155.5 bil­lion improv­ing high­ways and bridges in 2007, accord­ing to trans­porta­tion offi­cials, up 50% over the past 10 years. And that’s hard­ly the only obsta­cle they face. In 2006 alone, states increased their Med­ic­aid spend­ing by an esti­mat­ed 7.7%, to $132 bil­lion. And state and local gov­ern­ments could be on the hook for up to $1.5 tril­lion in retiree lia­bil­i­ties, esti­mates Cred­it Suisse. At the same time, politi­cians find it dif­fi­cult to raise tax­es. Chicago’s for­mer chief finan­cial offi­cer, Dana R. Lev­en­son, sums up the sit­u­a­tion: “There is mon­ey to be had, and cities need mon­ey.” U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cha­ka Fat­tah, a Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­c­rat who is run­ning for may­or of Philadel­phia, pro­pos­es to pri­va­tize the Philadel­phia Inter­na­tion­al Air­port and use the pro­ceeds to fund pover­ty programs—a much eas­i­er sell than a tax increase.

The com­bi­na­tion of eager sell­ers and hun­gry buy­ers is shak­ing loose pub­lic assets across the coun­try. The 99-year lease of the Chica­go Sky­way that went for $1.8 bil­lion in 2005 was the first major trans­ac­tion. Last year came the Indi­ana deal. Now states and cities are explor­ing the sale of leas­es for the turn­pikes in New Jer­sey and Penn­syl­va­nia, a toll road in Texas, Chica­go Mid­way Air­port, and sev­er­al state lot­ter­ies. Sud­den­ly politi­cians around the coun­try are won­der­ing how much cash they might be sit­ting on. Based on the going rate of about 40 times toll rev­enues, the icon­ic Gold­en Gate Bridge could prob­a­bly fetch $3.4 bil­lion were Cal­i­for­nia inter­est­ed in sell­ing. The Brook­lyn Bridge? If per­mis­sion were grant­ed by New York City to charge the same tolls as the George Wash­ing­ton Bridge, a pri­vate own­er might shell out as much as $3.5 bil­lion for it.

But there’s a down­side to the quick cash: planned toll hikes that are usu­al­ly quite aggres­sive. Chicago’s Sky­way could see car tolls rise from $2 in 2005 to $5 by 2017. For some per­spec­tive, if a sim­i­lar scheme were applied to the Penn­syl­va­nia Turn­pike dur­ing its 67 years of exis­tence, the toll for trav­el­ing from the Delaware Riv­er to the Ohio bor­der would be as much as $553 now instead of $22.75. Mac­quar­ie, which teamed up with Spain’s Cin­tra to pur­chase the Chica­go Sky­way and the Indi­ana Toll Road, under­scored the gov­ern­men­tal trade-off dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion at the recent White House Sur­face Trans­porta­tion Leg­isla­tive Lead­er­ship Sum­mit: “More Mon­ey or Low­er Tolls.” In an extreme sce­nario, gov­ern­ments could begin to sell prop­er­ties that aren’t tolled to pri­vate own­ers who will impose fees.

Of course, tolls won’t go to the moon if they result in dra­mat­ic reduc­tions in traf­fic. For exam­ple, invest­ment firm NW Finan­cial Group esti­mates that if the Chica­go Sky­way pric­ing scheme were applied to New York’s Hol­land Tun­nel over its 80 years, it would cost $185 to trav­el through it instead of the cur­rent $6. “No one will pay that much,” says Mur­ray E. Bleach, pres­i­dent of Mac­quar­ie Hold­ings (USA) Inc. “It’s just not going to hap­pen.”

Still, Indi­ana leg­is­la­tors became so alarmed by promised hikes that they changed the terms before the toll road lease was com­plet­ed. The state set aside $60 mil­lion to pay the dif­fer­ence in tolls for up to two years or until the buy­ers install elec­tron­ic tolling equip­ment. After that, the fee for cars with elec­tron­ic toll cards will rise to $4.80 over the full 157 miles, while the fee for cars with­out the cards will soar to $8. After 2010, both rates will rise each year by 2%, the pace of infla­tion, or the rate of eco­nom­ic growth, whichev­er is high­est.

The cer­tain­ty of future toll hikes does­n’t jibe with the uncer­tain­ty of ser­vice qual­i­ty. Assets sold now could change hands many times over the next 50 years, with each new buy­er feel­ing increas­ing pres­sure to make the deal work finan­cial­ly. It’s hard­ly a stretch to imag­ine ser­vice suf­fer­ing in such a sce­nario; already, the record in the U.S. has been spot­ty. In 2003 the city of Atlanta end­ed a lease of its water sys­tem after receiv­ing com­plaints about every­thing from billing dis­putes to water-main breaks. The city wres­tled with the own­er, Unit­ed Water Inc., over basics like the per­cent­age of water meters it should mon­i­tor. Both par­ties acknowl­edge that the con­tract lacked specifics. In the end, “we did­n’t believe we were get­ting per­for­mance,” says Robert Hunter, com­mis­sion­er for Atlanta’s Dept. of Water­shed Man­age­ment. “I don’t believe the city will ever look at pri­va­tiz­ing essen­tial ser­vices again.” Unit­ed Water says the con­tract was­n’t finan­cial­ly fea­si­ble because Atlanta’s water sys­tem was in worse shape than the city had rep­re­sent­ed.

States are wrestling with oth­er pub­lic pol­i­cy issues, too. Bankers say New York could reap a com­bined $70 bil­lion for long-term leas­es on a bunch of assets, includ­ing the state’s lot­tery, the Tap­pan Zee Bridge, and the New York State Thruway. New York state offi­cials have looked into the option of leas­ing the lot­tery, which itself might com­mand $35 billion—a sum that could sub­stan­tial­ly upgrade, say, New York’s high­er edu­ca­tion sys­tem. The down­side? The state would prob­a­bly have to remove con­straints on the lot­tery’s mar­ket­ing designed to dis­cour­age peo­ple from gam­bling more than they can afford. If the state insists on keep­ing the con­straints in place, it could reduce the val­ue of sell­ing it.

Chicago’s expe­ri­ence shows the pos­si­bil­i­ties and the pit­falls of pri­va­ti­za­tion. For­mer CFO Lev­en­son has been one of the move­men­t’s biggest cham­pi­ons. He was an archi­tect of the Sky­way deal, which kicked off the mar­ket. Then he sold con­trol of park­ing garages to Mor­gan Stan­ley for $563 mil­lion. Next, he start­ed shop­ping around a lease for Mid­way Air­port that could fetch as much as $3 bil­lion. And soon the city hopes to auc­tion off rights to oper­ate some recy­cling plants. Lev­en­son dis­miss­es crit­ics who argue that he has dumped prized assets. “This is not like where a per­son goes in and buys a loaf of bread from a store and walks out with that loaf of bread,” he says. “Some enti­ty, we expect, will make an offer to lease the Mid­way Air­port for 75 to 99 years, and the fol­low­ing day I’m pret­ty sure it will still be there.”

Wear­ing a crisp suit and styl­ish eye­glass­es, Lev­en­son looks like the Wall Streeter he once was, work­ing for Bank One Corp. and Bank of Amer­i­ca Corp. (BAC ) before tak­ing the Chica­go city job in 2004. In April he returned to bank­ing: As a man­ag­ing direc­tor at the Roy­al Bank of Scot­land Group (RBS ), he now beats the bush­es for infra­struc­ture deals. Lev­en­son does­n’t under­stand how local gov­ern­ments can afford not to put pub­lic works up for sale. Thanks to the 99-year lease for the Sky­way, Chica­go has paid off its debt and hand­ed over $100 mil­lion to social pro­grams like Meals on Wheels. Plus, says Lev­en­son, it’s earn­ing as much in annu­al inter­est on the $500 mil­lion it has banked from the trans­ac­tion as it used to earn from run­ning the Sky­way ($25 mil­lion).

In some ways, Lev­en­son argues, the city still has con­trol over the high­way. The agree­ment with the new own­ers spells out guide­lines in mind-numb­ing detail, dic­tat­ing every­thing from how quick­ly pot­holes must be filled (24 hours) to how rapid­ly squir­rel car­cass­es must be removed (8 hours). If Mac­quar­ie and Cin­tra vio­late those con­di­tions, the city can take back the road.

So far, the buy­ers have strict­ly adhered to the rules. At 7 a.m. on a Wednes­day in March, five work­ers begin anoth­er day at the Chica­go Sky­way’s Snow Com­mand. On their to-do list are pot­holes to be checked and cracks to be sealed. Juan Rodriguez used to patrol the free­way for Chica­go city. Today, he cruis­es the road for pri­vate own­ers. He dis­cov­ers some pot­holes have grown unac­cept­ably large because of salt that was spread the pre­vi­ous night. There’s some tire debris that must be removed, and a dis­abled vehi­cle hold­ing up traf­fic.


In the past, Rodriguez says, he had to write out a tick­et for each prob­lem, which would be added to a long list of chores. Address­ing prob­lems often took days, Rodriguez recalls. But by 10:25 a.m., all of this morn­ing’s issues on the Sky­way’s 7.8‑mile stretch of pave­ment are resolved. “The new own­ers are tak­ing the Sky­way to a whole new lev­el,” he says.

They’ve cer­tain­ly spent mon­ey on improve­ments. The mes­sage “a clean work­place is a hap­py work­place” is scrawled on a white­board in a fresh­ly paint­ed and ven­ti­lat­ed garage where work­ers meet. There’s elec­tron­ic tolling, which did­n’t exist before. A bunch of new lanes are under con­struc­tion. The invest­ments seem to be pay­ing off: Since tak­ing over two years ago, the Sky­way’s oper­a­tors esti­mate traf­fic has risen 5%.

It’s all encour­ag­ing, except that Chica­go “prob­a­bly could have got­ten more with­out pri­va­tiz­ing,” accord­ing to Den­nis J. Enright, a prin­ci­pal and founder of NW Finan­cial. His fir­m’s analy­sis shows that Chica­go could have done a lot bet­ter by han­dling the whole deal itself. It could have raised tolls and sold tax-exempt munic­i­pal bonds backed by the sched­uled hikes. That would have giv­en the city the up-front cash it need­ed while pre­serv­ing some of the income from the toll hikes. Instead, that mon­ey will go to Mac­quar­ie and Cin­tra.

Mean­while, the high­er tolls will take a big bite out of low­er-income peo­ple’s wal­lets. “You have to ask your­self if you want roads that used to be con­sid­ered a pub­lic ser­vice to be rationed by income class,” says Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor Uwe E. Rein­hardt. Chica­go says it has­n’t received any for­mal com­plaints from cit­i­zens, though two dif­fer­ent dri­vers recent­ly went to extremes to avoid tolls, says Sky­way main­te­nance man­ag­er Michael S. Lowrey. When the new own­ers intro­duced free tow­ing for bro­ken-down vehi­cles, the dri­vers called the Sky­way for help, claim­ing to be strand­ed. After work­ers hauled the vehi­cles past the toll­booths, they hopped in their cars and sped away.

For work­ers, the pri­va­ti­za­tion wave has wrought many changes. Sky­way toll tak­ers used to be full-time city employ­ees with rich ben­e­fits. Now most are part-time inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors with­out ben­e­fits. Bri­an Rainville, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Chica­go Team­sters Joint Coun­cil 25, helps man­age the union’s pen­sion fund. When he lis­tened to a recent pitch from a pen­sion con­sul­tant about infra­struc­ture funds, it sparked a real­iza­tion: The returns he might gen­er­ate for his pen­sion­ers could be can­celed out by the union’s shrink­ing num­ber of con­trib­u­tors. “It’s pret­ty obvi­ous that it’s not sound fis­cal pol­i­cy for the [pen­sion] fund to under­cut the peo­ple it’s serv­ing,” Rainville says.

Push­back against pri­vate investors is now play­ing out in dif­fer­ent ways else­where. In Penn­syl­va­nia, the state turn­pike com­mis­sion is going head-to-head with pri­vate bid­ders for the right to oper­ate the state’s 537-mile toll road. Penn­syl­va­nia des­per­ate­ly needs cash to repair its near­ly 6,000 struc­tural­ly defi­cient bridges. Some pun­dits expect­ed Penn­syl­va­nia Gov­er­nor Edward G. Ren­dell to pro­pose hikes in gas tax­es and oth­er fees to fund the projects. But in Decem­ber, Ren­dell unex­pect­ed­ly announced plans to pri­va­tize the turn­pike. Tim­o­thy J. Car­son, vice-chair­man of the com­mis­sion, scram­bled to sub­mit an expres­sion of inter­est for the turn­pike to con­tin­ue to run itself. His pro­pos­al is being judged against many oth­ers, includ­ing those from big Wall Street firms.

Car­son isn’t dis­suad­ed by argu­ments that investors are bet­ter qual­i­fied to run turn­pikes prof­itably. “There’s no mag­ic here,” he says. “These [deals] are large­ly dri­ven by one fac­tor: the per­mit­ted toll increas­es.” Car­son says the state does­n’t need to hand over the turn­pike to pri­vate own­ers. His­tor­i­cal­ly, he says, the state want­ed the turn­pike to col­lect only enough mon­ey to break even. But it could just as eas­i­ly adopt its own toll-hike sched­ule. The state could also charge tolls on more roads. In oth­er words, the pub­lic could remain in con­trol sim­ply by chang­ing the turn­pike’s mis­sion. That would ensure that the ben­e­fits of the toll hikes were spread through­out the pop­u­lace, says Car­son.

Penn­syl­va­ni­a’s isn’t the only turn­pike author­i­ty explor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of bid­ding for roads. The North Texas Toll­way Author­i­ty cal­cu­lat­ed in March that it would have val­ued a par­tial­ly con­struct­ed 25-mile stretch of high­way near Dal­las 26% more than a pri­vate investor had bid. Now it’s con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a for­mal bid. And on Apr. 11, the Texas House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed an amend­ment by a vote of 134 to 5 to impose a two-year mora­to­ri­um on pri­va­tiz­ing state toll roads. “We need to put the brakes on these pri­vate toll con­tracts before we sign away half a cen­tu­ry of future rev­enues,” said rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lois W. Kolkhorst, who pro­posed the bill. A sim­i­lar bill was passed in the state sen­ate on Apr. 19.

With so much mon­ey at stake and so many options avail­able to states, it’s impos­si­ble to know how the great infra­struc­ture craze may play out. But this much is cer­tain, says Penn­syl­va­ni­a’s Car­son: “Peo­ple are will­ing to pay more than they are cur­rent­ly being charged. The only ques­tion is to what extent you’re will­ing to take advan­tage of that.”

Thorn­ton is as asso­ciate edi­tor for Busi­ness­Week.


2 comments for “Roads To Riches”

  1. FYI, man­age­ment of the Oak Ridge Ceme­tery that holds Abra­ham Lin­col­n’s tomb is pos­si­bly going to be out­sourced to a pub­licly trad­ed cemetary-man­age­ment ser­vice. It sounds like it’s a “go get­ter” com­pa­ny that pays a nice div­i­dend (although it does­n’t have a par­tic­u­lar­ly high cred­it-rat­ing).

    If hot stock tips about the pri­va­ti­za­tion of nation­al mon­u­ment man­age­ment does­n’t strike one as an espe­cial­ly pos­i­tive piece of news, note that the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the Oak Ridge Ceme­tery isn’t a done deal. There are oth­er financ­ing options:

    WICS NewsChan­nel 20
    Oak Ridge Pri­va­ti­za­tion at Com­mit­tee of the Whole
    It was the sub­ject of closed-door dis­cus­sion the week pri­or at City Coun­cil, but Oak Ridge Ceme­tery took cen­ter stage at Tues­day night’s Com­mit­tee of the Whole meet­ing.
    Wednes­day, Novem­ber 13 2013, 12:06 PM CST

    The ceme­tery requires hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in sub­si­dies to stay afloat, and the city is con­sid­er­ing putting it under pri­vate man­age­ment. Sev­er­al peo­ple showed up tonight to urge against doing that, and they were sup­port­ed by at least one alder­man.

    “The Fire Depart­ment does­n’t break even,” Ward 7 Alder­man Joe McMe­namin said. “That’s a $30 mil­lion sub­sidy. The Police Depart­ment does­n’t break even. The library does­n’t break even.”

    Penn­syl­va­nia-based ceme­tery man­age­ment com­pa­ny StoneMor Ceme­tery Prod­ucts con­tact­ed the city ear­li­er this year about pri­vate man­age­ment.

    The city’s bud­get direc­tor said a “request for pro­pos­al” will be going out, but that does not guar­an­tee the city will end up turn­ing man­age­ment over to a pri­vate com­pa­ny. There was also dis­cus­sion over oth­er ways to cut costs, includ­ing hir­ing sales­peo­ple for bur­ial plots.

    In the mean­time, the ceme­tery’s direc­tor said he’s been work­ing to cut costs . He said the ceme­tery can receive up to $400,000 in sub­si­dies this fis­cal year. So far it has used about $220,000.

    Any­one inter­est­ed in invest­ing in a final rest­ing place near Lin­coln? Unlike most pub­lic sec­tor fire sales, this one might actu­al­ly ben­e­fit the pub­lic.

    In oth­er news...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 13, 2013, 10:59 pm
  2. Mark Ames has a great new piece on the pri­va­ti­za­tion of law enforce­ment in Mis­souri and the role played by the “Show-Me Insti­tute”, Mis­souri’s pro-pri­va­tize-every­thing ‘think tank’:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    FOUND: Fer­gu­son May­or bragged about pri­va­tized law enforce­ment ser­vices months before Brown shoot­ing

    By Mark Ames
    On March 7, 2015

    Fer­gu­son may­or James Knowles is not hap­py with the Depart­ment of Justice’s report about his city. Respond­ing yes­ter­day to the DOJ’s claims of wide­spread abus­es of pow­er and process by Ferguson’s police and courts, May­or Knowles railed to the St Louis Dis­patch:

    “Their asser­tion is it hap­pens reg­u­lar­ly. Based on what? I’m not sure yet.

    “Do they have a sta­tis­tic that tells me that they’ve exam­ined every arrest that we’ve made for the past four years and that half, or all, or 10 per­cent, or 5 per­cent are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al or with­out cause? They do not have that. They have not exam­ined at that lev­el that I know of at this point.”

    Cer­tain­ly if the DOJ’s find­ings accu­rate­ly reflect a seri­ous prob­lem in Fer­gu­son then Knowles should have known about it. This, after all, is a man who has long boast­ed of his obses­sion in “dis­rupt­ing” how his city is run to ensure max­i­mum effi­cien­cy. Which is to say, max­i­mum prof­itabil­i­ty.

    In ear­ly 2014, just a few months before the city of Fer­gu­son explod­ed in street protests after the shoot­ing of Michael Brown, May­or Knowles, gave an inter­view to Missouri’s lead­ing lib­er­tar­i­an think-tank, the Show-Me Insti­tute. In that inter­view, embed­ded below, May­or Knowles explained the many won­der­ful ben­e­fits of pri­va­ti­za­tion. When asked if there was any­thing he would not con­sid­er pri­va­tiz­ing in Fer­gu­son, May­or Knowles answered:

    “Real­ly there isn’t much that we haven’t explored that we didn’t see was a good idea.”

    And while Knowles did tell the Show-Me Insti­tute inter­view­er that he wasn’t in favor of pri­va­tiz­ing the police force itself, he explained that he was active­ly work­ing to pri­va­tize law enforce­ment ser­vices:

    “Even though I say law enforce­ment shouldn’t be pri­va­tized, there are many aspects of law enforce­ment that can be pri­va­tized, and again can offer assis­tance to law enforce­ment. We have red light cam­eras in the city of Fer­gu­son. We have a speed cam­era which they’re installing cur­rent­ly. It’s been wide­ly crit­i­cized that we have a sit­u­a­tion where pri­vate indus­try will make a por­tion off the tick­ets that are issued.

    Indeed, as the DOJ report and oth­ers have dis­cov­ered, much of Ferguson’s “offend­er-fund­ed” crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and munic­i­pal bud­get begins with exor­bi­tant mov­ing and park­ing vio­la­tions that then spi­ral into a ruinous cycle of debts, fines, and fees.

    Ferguson’s pri­va­tized red-light and speed­ing cam­eras, which were chal­lenged and crit­i­cized by Fer­gu­son res­i­dents, were installed under dubi­ous legal and con­sti­tu­tion­al means, as even May­or Knowles acknowl­edges in his inter­view. For one thing, they tick­et the own­er of the car, rather than the dri­ver of the car. There is also evi­dence all over the coun­try of how the pri­vate com­pa­nies that oper­ate traf­fic vio­la­tion cam­eras bribe offi­cials, sub­vert democ­ra­cy by suing to stop local anti-cam­era vot­er ini­tia­tives, tweak stop lights in order to increase tick­et­ing (and pri­vate prof­its), and tar­get low-income com­mu­ni­ties.

    The com­pa­ny that con­tracts out Ferguson’s red light cam­eras, Amer­i­can Traf­fic Solu­tions, set­tled a class action law­suit in Mis­souri forc­ing it to refund 20 per­cent of all 900,000 tick­ets the com­pa­ny issued in the state since 2005. Missouri’s state Supreme Court is expect­ed to rule this year on the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of the pri­va­tized red-light and speed­ing cam­eras.

    And yet, in his inter­view with the Show-Me Insti­tute, May­or Knowles held up pri­va­tized red light and speed­ing cam­eras as one of the best exam­ples of pri­va­tized law enforce­ment ser­vices.

    As I wrote last year, the blue­print for Ferguson’s “offend­er-fund­ed” crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem was first pro­posed by one of the men most respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the mod­ern lib­er­tar­i­an move­ment and tak­ing it to local gran­u­lar munic­i­pal pol­i­tics: Rea­son magazine’s Robert Poole. Poole ran Rea­son mag­a­zine in the 1970s—a time when Rea­son ran overt­ly racist arti­cles defend­ing South Africa’s white-suprema­cist apartheid rule, and ran a spe­cial issue in 1976 pro­mot­ing “the who’s who of ear­ly Amer­i­can Holo­caust deniers” in the words of Holo­caust expert Deb­o­rah Lip­stadt.

    At the same time, Poole worked for a DARPA spin­off in San­ta Bar­bara tasked with study­ing pri­va­tiz­ing local gov­ern­ment. Why the Pen­ta­gon would pay Amer­i­cans to study pri­va­tiz­ing Amer­i­can cities is some­thing that has yet to be answered, but in any event, in 1978, Poole used what­ev­er knowl­edge he gained work­ing for DARPA to set up (with Koch mon­ey) the Rea­son Foun­da­tion: The first Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed sole­ly to pri­va­tiz­ing local gov­ern­ment.

    Many peo­ple includ­ing Poole’s sup­port­ers say that Robert Poole either invent­ed “pri­va­ti­za­tion” pol­i­tics, or at the very least, is respon­si­ble for pop­u­lar­iz­ing an idea that was as obscure as it was frowned upon and mar­gin­al­ized.

    Even before Rea­gan moved into the White House, Poole pub­lished “Cut­ting Back City Hall”—a how-to neolib­er­al primer on pri­va­tiz­ing local gov­ern­ment that some of Thatcher’s top advis­ers cred­it­ed with influ­enc­ing the Thatch­er Rev­o­lu­tion. In 1983, the Anglo-Amer­i­can world was going so fast in Poole’s direc­tion that he could right­ly boast:

    “Four years ago when I was writ­ing Cut­ting Back City Hall, the edi­tor winced at my use of the term ‘pri­va­ti­za­tion.’ Today, the term appears in the title of a book endorsed by peo­ple such as David Stock­man, and nobody bats an eye.”

    Under Poole’s edi­tor­ship in the ear­ly 80s, Rea­son mag­a­zine pub­lished a big fea­ture arti­cle head­lined “The St. Louis Solu­tion” call­ing for pri­va­tiz­ing city streets, side­walks and ser­vices, just as some of St. Louis’ rich­est and most seg­re­gat­ed town­ships have done since the post-Civ­il War era.

    Some 35 years lat­er, it’s remark­able to con­sid­er the state of Fer­gu­son today and how close­ly it resem­bles Robert Poole’s lib­er­tar­i­an blue­print in 1979.

    For exam­ple, Poole’s pol­i­cy pro­pos­al for pri­va­tiz­ing the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem called for exact­ly the sort of rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing sys­tem that Fer­gu­son uses today. Some choice quotes from Poole’s pri­va­ti­za­tion primer near­ly four decades ago:

    “Make the users (i.e., the crim­i­nals) pay the costs, wher­ev­er pos­si­ble.”

    “[L]aw enforce­ment, like any oth­er ser­vice, is essen­tial­ly a busi­ness activ­i­ty.”


    And for­get any hope that the awful events in Fer­gu­son might cause a major rethink by May­or Knowles and those who share his view of pri­va­ti­za­tion-as-panacea. Two months after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Fer­gu­son police offi­cer, Sil­i­con Valley’s lib­er­tar­i­an hero Rand Paul flew into Mis­souri for a $5000-a-seat round table event to raise mon­ey for the Show-Me Institute’s “Pri­va­tize Mis­souri” cam­paign.

    All all the dis­turb­ing things in that arti­cle, per­haps it’s the fact that Robert Poole devel­oped his ‘pri­va­tized local gov­ern­ment’ scheme as part of his work for a DARPA spin­off that might be the most dis­turb­ing, espe­cial­ly since so much of the GOP’s behav­ior over the last four decades has seemed almost like an intel­li­gence-run oper­a­tion using advancedy mil­i­tary psy­op tech­niques intend­ed to pre­pare the US pub­lic for the even­tu­al relin­quish­ment of its own democ­ra­cy into the hands of an inter­na­tion­al group of oli­garchs. You have to won­der what oth­er soci­ety-destroy­ing plans were devel­oped at DARPA spin­offs from that era and how many of them were put into place.

    Also don’t assume that the “Show-Me Insti­tute” lim­it­ed its dam­ag­ing advice to Mis­souri. That would have been nice, but no, Mis­souri’s top oli­garch, “King Rex” Sin­que­field­’s Show-Me Insti­tute has been show­ing Kansas how to slit its own throat for years. And that’s why Kansas gov­er­nor Sam Brown­back recent­ly had a show-and-tell at the Show-Me Insti­tute: He need­ed to show off all the bud­get-bust­ing tax cuts and tell every­one how great things are going:

    Brown­back takes tax cut mes­sage to Mis­souri
    Wealthy polit­i­cal activist seeks to bring Kansas rates to Show-Me state
    Post­ed: March 5, 2015 — 1:51pm

    By Jonathan Shorman

    ST. LOUIS — Gov. Sam Brown­back had been tak­ing ques­tions for sev­er­al min­utes when a polo-clad man in the front row raised his hand.

    Brown­back had just fin­ished a speech to an inti­mate crowd here Thurs­day morn­ing as a cou­ple of dozen peo­ple lis­tened while chew­ing on pas­tries. He had lam­bast­ed the media and down­played the state’s mas­sive rev­enue short­fall — expect­ed to total more than $1 bil­lion over the next two fis­cal years.

    The man asked how large Kansas’ cur­rent year bud­get deficit is. The vis­it­ing gov­er­nor lis­tened intent­ly and respond­ed that he had made allot­ments to deal with the $600 mil­lion cur­rent deficit.

    But the man ask­ing the ques­tion was not just an ordi­nary Mis­souri cit­i­zen, but Rex Sin­que­field — one of the rich­est and most pow­er­ful indi­vid­u­als in the entire state.

    Sin­que­field, a St. Louis busi­ness­man and phil­an­thropist, has estab­lished him­self as a dom­i­nant play­er in Mis­souri pol­i­tics over the past sev­er­al years, fun­nel­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to advo­ca­cy groups and polit­i­cal can­di­dates.

    Even as Brown­back faces a grim bud­get sit­u­a­tion that will prob­a­bly require a com­bi­na­tion of tax increas­es and spend­ing cuts, he is push­ing a counter-nar­ra­tive in Mis­souri about what his income tax-slash­ing poli­cies have pro­duced. How the gov­er­nor is per­ceived in the Show-Me state holds impli­ca­tions for his nation­al lega­cy — help­ing to deter­mine whether the for­mer U.S. sen­a­tor and one-time pres­i­den­tial candidate’s mod­el is export­ed to Mis­souri and oth­er states.

    Sin­que­field, per­haps the most impor­tant per­son in the audi­ence Thurs­day for Brown­back, can help shape how the gov­er­nor and his sig­na­ture pol­i­cy are per­ceived in Mis­souri by a wield­ing a seem­ing­ly unlim­it­ed bank account to bring his eco­nom­ic vision across Kansas’ east­ern bor­der.

    “Kansas is lead­ing the whole nation and is set­ting the exam­ple for every­body,” Sin­que­field said in an inter­view with The Tope­ka Cap­i­tal-Jour­nal.

    A robust defense

    Brown­back may already have Sin­que­field on his side, but the gov­er­nor made his best case Thurs­day any­way.

    Brown­back spent much of his hour­long pre­sen­ta­tion to the Show-Me Insti­tute (a Sin­que­field-fund­ed group) defend­ing Kansas’ tax pol­i­cy.

    The Repub­li­can gov­er­nor said the pri­ma­ry objec­tive of all his eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy has been to reverse Kansas’ pop­u­la­tion decline as a per­cent­age of the country’s entire pop­u­la­tion — an accom­plish­ment that would boost the state’s pow­er and influ­ence rel­a­tive to the rest of the Unit­ed States.

    Brown­back dis­missed the furor sparked by the state’s rev­enue short­fall. In response to low­er rev­enue, he has pro­posed a bud­get that calls for increas­es in tobac­co and liquor tax­es and would pause addi­tion­al income tax rate cuts pend­ing rev­enue growth.

    “The yelling about it is far greater than the pain that’s here,” Brown­back said.

    Just this week, K‑State Pres­i­dent Kirk Schulz bemoaned a $3.1 mil­lion cut rec­om­mend­ed by a Sen­ate com­mit­tee.

    “Con­tin­ued cuts in high­er edu­ca­tion have a harm­ful effect on the oppor­tu­ni­ties we can pro­vide to the stu­dents and cit­i­zens of Kansas,” Schulz said. “At a time when we see increas­ing enroll­ment, the amount of state sup­port con­tin­ues to remain in flux. We had agreed to man­age a flat bud­get for the next two fis­cal years, and the pro­posed change in this agree­ment is dis­ap­point­ing.”

    The gov­er­nor said, as he has said before, that he is seek­ing to move Kansas from a state that depends on income tax­es to one that uses con­sump­tion tax­es. In response to a ques­tion from an audi­ence mem­ber, Brown­back said he doesn’t know at what lev­el the state’s con­sump­tion tax­es would have to be set to off­set a zero income tax rate.

    Kansas state and local sales tax­es are already high­er than all but one of its neigh­bors, how­ev­er. Accord­ing to the Tax Foun­da­tion, in 2014 Kansas had a com­bined state and local sales tax aver­age of 8.15 per­cent — the 12th high­est in the coun­try. Only Okla­homa ranked high­er, at 8.72 per­cent for 5th place.

    Brown­back said his poli­cies are help­ing, if the objec­tive is to grow the econ­o­my and cre­ate an envi­ron­ment friend­ly to small busi­ness. But, he said, it takes time.


    But crit­ics aren’t so sure that is always hap­pen­ing. Annie McK­ay, direc­tor of the Kansas Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic Growth, has expressed con­cern that mon­ey saved by busi­ness own­ers and oth­er indi­vid­u­als from low­er tax­es isn’t always being rein­vest­ed back into their busi­ness­es, or even into the Kansas econ­o­my gen­er­al­ly.

    In data released this week in con­junc­tion with the Kansas Eco­nom­ic Progress Coun­cil, the group says the governor’s own eco­nom­ic bench­marks show the state trail­ing behind the region in sev­er­al key indi­ca­tors. Accord­ing to their analy­sis, Kansas lags behind a six-state region in pop­u­la­tion growth, over­all pro­duc­tion of goods and ser­vices, pri­vate indus­try employ­ment growth and pri­vate indus­try wage growth.

    “While oth­er states in our region are expe­ri­enc­ing supe­ri­or eco­nom­ic growth, Kansas con­tin­ues to strug­gle to pay its bills and meet basic needs as a result of the unaf­ford­able tax cuts passed in 2012 and 2013. Kansans are hav­ing to pay an unprece­dent­ed tab for the failed exper­i­ment with lit­tle to noth­ing to show for it in our econ­o­my,” McK­ay said.

    Mis­souri watch­es

    As Kansas’ fis­cal dra­ma has played out over the past few years, its neigh­bor to the east has been watch­ing intent­ly.

    Mis­souri passed its own tax cut pack­age last year. The bill, which was passed into law by a Repub­li­can-con­trolled leg­is­la­ture over the objec­tion of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov. Jay Nixon, reduces the top per­son­al income tax rate from 6 per­cent to 5.5 per­cent by one-tenth of a per­cent each year begin­ning in 2017. But rev­enues must grow each year for the reduc­tion to take place.

    In addi­tion, a 25 per­cent indi­vid­ual income tax deduc­tion for busi­ness income will also be phased in.

    While the Mis­souri cuts aren’t like the sweep­ing cuts in Kansas, some observers still think they spell trou­ble for the state. Amy Blouin, direc­tor of the Mis­souri Bud­get Project, a non­par­ti­san group that was crit­i­cal of the tax leg­is­la­tion, includes some ele­ments of what she calls Kansas’ failed pol­i­cy.

    “Last year dur­ing the leg­isla­tive ses­sion in Mis­souri, law­mak­ers already start­ed to dis­so­ci­ate them­selves with Kansas, try­ing to make claims that the tax cuts they were pass­ing were not the same thing,” Blouin said.

    Pol­i­cy­mak­ers in Mis­souri are already aware of Kansas’ fis­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, Blouin said, though Brown­back on Wednes­day gave his side of the sto­ry. At a lun­cheon in Jef­fer­son City, the state cap­i­tal, he said his tax pol­i­cy had plant­ed the “seeds of growth” in Kansas.

    Dozens of Mis­souri law­mak­ers attend­ed the Wednes­day lunch to lis­ten to Brown­back­’s ideas, The Asso­ci­at­ed Press report­ed, includ­ing some of Mis­souri’s lead bud­get writ­ers, Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Tom Dempsey and House Speak­er John Diehl.

    Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee chair­man Sen. Kurt Schae­fer of Colum­bia told the AP the gov­er­nor had “some real­ly com­pelling num­bers.”

    “I’m not say­ing this is the way for peo­ple to go. It is a way to move for­ward,” Brown­back said Thurs­day of his poli­cies.

    Sin­que­field, who poured resources into lob­by­ing for a failed tax cut effort in 2013 and the suc­cess­ful 2014 leg­is­la­tion, wants the state to keep mov­ing clos­er to Brownback’s vision. In a brief inter­view, he enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly threw his sup­port behind the Kansas governor’s efforts.

    “Peo­ple on the left who like to crit­i­cize me, I say gloat now and gloat fast because your gloat­ing days are soon going to be over when Kansas starts real­ly grow­ing and join­ing the ranks of the no-tax states, that’s going to be the killer argu­ment. This is a live exper­i­ment that every­body gets to watch right now,” Sin­que­field said.

    Sinquefield’s use of the term “live exper­i­ment” to describe Kansas comes after Brownback’s now infa­mous remark dur­ing an MSNBC inter­view in 2012.

    “We’ll see how it works. We’ll have a real live exper­i­ment,” Brown­back said then of his tax pol­i­cy.

    The com­ment was crit­i­cized at the time and Democ­rats and oth­ers crit­i­cal of the pol­i­cy have since latched onto it, declar­ing that the exper­i­ment has failed. But at least for Sin­que­field, the results are not yet in.

    He has also set his sights on re-cre­at­ing the exper­i­ment in Mis­souri. He appeared con­fi­dent that the major expect­ed guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­dates will pur­sue low­er tax­es.

    Sin­que­field indi­cat­ed that both Repub­li­can Cather­ine Han­away and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Attor­ney Gen­er­al Chris Koster sup­port decreas­ing tax­a­tion. Sin­que­field has been pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar fund­ing to Hanaway’s cam­paign and had donat­ed at least $900,000 by the end of 2014.

    Mis­souri has no lim­its on cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. The oth­er Repub­li­can expect­ed to run for gov­er­nor, State Audi­tor Thomas Schwe­ich, had decried what he viewed as Sinquefield’s sway over the state’s pol­i­tics. A week ago, how­ev­er, Schwe­ich shot him­self dead in his sub­ur­ban St. Louis home.

    “If Cather­ine Han­away gets elect­ed, we’ll move at a Kansas pace because she said the income tax has to go. And Chris Koster, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, has told me that the tax on busi­ness­es and pass-throughs, which right now in Mis­souri with the new law when it takes effect will be 4.5 (per­cent) said it should go to three imme­di­ate­ly. And he’s a Demo­c­rat. So the air is ripe in Mis­souri for big tax cuts,” Sin­que­field said.

    Sin­que­field didn’t appear con­cerned about Kansas’ rev­enue loss, and asked rhetor­i­cal­ly what peo­ple expect when tax­es are cut.

    Brown­back didn’t appear over­ly con­cerned, either, dur­ing his St. Louis speech.


    “Sin­que­field didn’t appear con­cerned about Kansas’ rev­enue loss, and asked rhetor­i­cal­ly what peo­ple expect when tax­es are cut.” Uh, well they may have expect­ed the tax cuts to pay for them­selves if they were fool­ish enough to lis­ten to Art Laf­fer when he was telling then that’s what would hap­pen.

    So it will be inter­est­ing to see how Sineque­field sells future Kansas-style tax cuts to the peo­ple of Mis­souri since he clear­ly agrees with sane peo­ple that taxs cuts cut rev­enues too. And yet, as we saw above:

    Sin­que­field, who poured resources into lob­by­ing for a failed tax cut effort in 2013 and the suc­cess­ful 2014 leg­is­la­tion, wants the state to keep mov­ing clos­er to Brownback’s vision. In a brief inter­view, he enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly threw his sup­port behind the Kansas governor’s efforts.

    “Peo­ple on the left who like to crit­i­cize me, I say gloat now and gloat fast because your gloat­ing days are soon going to be over when Kansas starts real­ly grow­ing and join­ing the ranks of the no-tax states, that’s going to be the killer argu­ment. This is a live exper­i­ment that every­body gets to watch right now,” Sin­que­field said.

    Sin­que­field is clear­ly intent on bring­ing the Kansas mir­a­cle (of tax cuts for the rich and tax hikes for the poor) to Mis­souri so he’s also clear­ly intent on con­vinc­ing Mis­souri that every­thing is going swim­ming­ly in Kansas, where there’s “a live exper­i­ment that every­body gets to watch right now”. So either Kansas is about to expe­ri­ence some sort of sur­prise eco­nom­ic boom that solves its bud­get woes or some­how Sin­que­field­’s media machine is going to have an even more chal­leng­ing Big Lie to tell than nor­mal.

    As Mark Ames sug­gests above, “for­get any hope that the awful events in Fer­gu­son might cause a major rethink by May­or Knowles and those who share his view of pri­va­ti­za­tion-as-panacea”. And as we just saw, we should also for­get any hope that the Kansas dis­as­ter will cause a major rethink of Rex Sin­que­field­’s sup­ply-side ide­o­log­i­cal non­sense. And real­ly, why would there be a rethink when these ini­tia­tives have been so suc­cess­ful so far? Sure, it’s only suc­cess at cut­ting tax­es for the rich and cut­ting pub­lic ser­vices but that’s the whole point! More for the rich and less for every­one else has clear­ly the meta-objec­tive for the right-wing oli­garchy for decades. Robert Poole was just ahead of his time back in the 70’s.

    And just imag­ine how far ahead of its time Mis­souri will be in realm of pri­va­tiz­ing every­thing once Sin­que­field man­ages to con­vince Mis­souri to fol­low­ing the Brown­back vision. Pri­va­tiz­ing Mis­siouri will be like tak­ing can­dy from a baby at that point.

    So it’s real­ly just a ques­tion of what type of over­whelm­ing psy­op is Sineque­field going to unleash on the peo­ple of Mis­souri in order to con­vince the mass­es that Brown­back­’s s@!t does­n’t stink before the full-spec­trum pri­va­ti­za­tion of Mis­souri can real­ly get under­way. Maybe DARPA can help.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 9, 2015, 6:53 pm

Post a comment