Legislating Corporate Rule: The Michigan Edition

I haven’t been able to track down the specific bill, but, if this report about legislation in Michigan is true, this is essentially a corporate coup d’├ętat (italics mine):

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I just found out about this last night, and like I said, there’s so much going on that these extraordinary measures are just getting lost in the shuffle. But in Michigan, there is a bill that’s already passed the House. It’s on the verge of passing the Senate. And I’ll just read you some excerpts from it. It says that in the case of an economic crisis, that the governor has the authority to authorize the emergency manager–this is somebody who would be appointed–to reject, modify or terminate the terms of an existing contract or collective bargaining agreement, authorize the emergency manager for a municipal government–OK, so we’re not–we’re talking about towns, municipalities across the state–to disincorporate. So, an appointed official with the ability to dissolve an elected body, when they want to….

NAOMI KLEIN: A municipal government. And it says specifically, “or dissolve the municipal government.” So we’ve seen this happening with school boards, saying, “OK, this is a failing school board. We’re taking over. We’re dissolving it. We’re canceling the contracts.” You know, what this reminds me of is New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, when the teachers were fired en masse and then it became a laboratory for charter schools. You know, people in New Orleans–and you know this, Amy–warned us. They said, “What’s happening to us is going to happen to you.” And I included in the book a quote saying, “Every city has their Lower Ninth Ward.” And what we’re seeing with the pretext of the flood is going to be used with the pretext of an economic crisis. And this is precisely what’s happening. So it starts with the school boards, and then it’s whole towns, whole cities, that could be subject to just being dissolved because there’s an economic crisis breaking collective bargaining agreements. It also specifies that–this bill specifies that an emergency manager can be an individual or a firm. Or a firm. So, the person who would be put in charge of this so-called failing town or municipality could actually be a corporation.
AMY GOODMAN: Whose government they dissolve, a company takes over.
NAOMI KLEIN: A company takes over. So, they have created, if this passes, the possibility for privatization of a whole town by fiat. And this is actually a trend in the contracting out of public services, where you do now have whole towns, like Sandy Springs in Georgia, run by private companies. It’s very lucrative. Why not? You start with just the water contract or the electricity contract, but eventually, why not privatize the whole town? So–
AMY GOODMAN: And what happens then? Where does democracy fit into that picture?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, this is an assault on democracy. It’s a frontal assault on democracy. It’s a kind of a corporate coup d’├ętat at the municipal level.

Someone once said, “Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” This would be a usurpation of the democratic process, and replacement of the will of the people (as stupid as it might or might not be) by a corporation accountable, not to the people, but its owners.
We’re so fucked.
Related information: AP News here. No idea what the language changes in the reconciliation bill involve.

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6 Responses to Legislating Corporate Rule: The Michigan Edition

  1. Joel says:

    Rome has burnt.

  2. Mel Holloway says:

    Is Halliburton lobbying for this?

  3. Rob Jase says:

    “We’re so fucked.”
    And I didn’t even enjoy it!

  4. dean says:

    That’s about right. There are many interesting features in the proposals our new Michigan governor has put forward.
    * Massive cuts in funding to public school districts – possibly above $500 per student. There are concerns that several small districts, now only marginally getting by, would not be able to meet budgets. But that’s okay because
    * Proposals like the one mentioned above are moving through the legislature to allow for the state to install a school system controller (like Detroit has now) but with broader powers. “It’s just a coincidence that the funding cuts and the new bill are arriving at the same time”
    * massive cuts to public colleges and universities: they could start at about 15%, with the possibility of another 7 or 8% more IF a college (so total of 22% cut), to make up for shortfall, raised tuition more than 7%. This seems to be facing some resistance but is still expected to pass
    * slightly more contentious is a proposal that would eliminate the tax credit currently available when people make donations to a public college or university
    * Our new governor is a little different than many republican governors: he is raising some taxes. He proposes to begin taxing pensions of retirees, eliminating some tax breaks for senior citizens
    The prediction is that these actions, if enforced, will bring slightly more than $1.7 billion dollars.
    Of course, Snyder’s also proposing tax breaks of $1.8 billion to businesses around MI so, at the end of the story, he’s not doing squat to help Michigan’s money problems.
    He’s got his aim on teachers and public employees too, but hasn’t gotten specific with his plans.

  5. CC says:

    Yep. This bill is for real. HB 4214.
    Want to know the even more insidious part? Snyder is proposing a $500 per pupil cut to K-12 schools (never mind that the taxes expressly raised for K-12 funding would post a “profit” next year to the tune of $140 million if funding was kept at this years levels) in order to balance other parts off the budget.
    This will effectively make every district in “need” of a financial manager. Did you know that part of the bill will allow the managers to cancel any contract in their way?
    Woooooooooooo Hooooooooooooo.

  6. Clam says:

    And now will the U/S please stop lecturing the rest of the world about democracy?
    (u/s – unserviceable)

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