Jeremy Mohler of “In the Public Interest” has advice for you. You should consider subscribing to its website, which keeps tabs on the privatization movement, which is attacking every part of the public sector in hopes of monetizing it.

Like anything involving extended family, Thanksgiving can turn into a combat zone at the first mention of privatization. Just the words “public-private partnership” can send grandma out the door for a cigarette. Is this the year your nephew drops “neoliberalism” at the dinner table?

Here’s some advice to calm the inevitable tension this time around.

You never want to jump right in to explaining that privatization is a key part of the neoliberal project to enrich corporations while attempting to solve nearly all social problems with private markets.

So, try saying stuff like:

Privatization goes hand-in-hand with cutting taxes for Wall Street and corporations.

Companies that contract with the government to provide things like water, trash pickup, and school janitorial services often argue that they’re more efficient than the “bureaucratic” public sector. But evidence of this is mixed at best. For example, private water corporations charge 58 percent more than those that are publicly owned.

But all the talk about efficiency and cutting costs helps support the idea that the government is wasteful and taxes are bad. Meanwhile, contractors and private investors pocket gobs of our public money by lowering service quality, cutting jobs and wages, and sidestepping protections for the environment.

Tell grandpa that Wall Street needs to pay more in taxes, or his water rates might soon be going up.

Without private prison corporations, it would be much harder for Trump to fulfill his racist promises.

The two largest private prison corporations, CoreCivic and GEO Group, currently detain two-thirds of people arrested and held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE.

Without help from these two publicly traded corporations — whose owners also receive a massive tax break because they call themselves real estate companies — the Trump administration would be scrambling for detention space for its immigration crackdown.

Charter schools are not a progressive policy — they are a form of privatization.

While some privately operated charter schools provide services like dual language programs not available in some public school districts, many simply replicate — and attempt to replace — traditional, neighborhood schools.

Meanwhile, billionaires, private investors, and real estate developers are spending cash nationwide supporting political candidates who want to increase the number of charter schools, take autonomy from teachers, and limit what the public can see about charter school spending.

Having too many charter schools actually hurts students in neighborhood schools. Last year, charter schools cost Oakland’s school district $57.3 million, helping force cuts at neighborhood schools to academic counselors, school supplies, and, even, toilet paper.

Stopping privatization fights inequality.

Water, transportation, education, and other public goods are the foundation of our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Continuing to hand them over to corporations and private investors, the same people who continually lobby for lower taxes, will only make things worse for most of us.

Privatization has been particularly harmful to women and people of color, as nearly 60 percent of public sector jobs are held by women and one in five black workers are public workers.

As a key component of the conservative (and neoliberal) argument for “limited government,” privatization helps hide the fact that the government is in fact “big” when it comes to things like war-making, prisons, and controlling women’s bodies.

Good luck! And watch out for those public-private partnerships, they’re usually more private than they are public.

Thanks for reading,

Jeremy Mohler
In the Public Interest

In the Public Interest
1305 Franklin St., Suite 501
Oakland, CA 94612
United States