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PA Greens Oppose Privatization of Public Assets

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Chris Robinson
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Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. David Ochmanowicz, Jr, secretary of the Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA, www.greenpartypa.org), sees it this way, "With the agenda of streamlined privatization of all of our citizen-owned assets on the table in Pennsylvania, the Green Party has become the only political party to take a vigorous stand against privatization."

On January 19, Governor Thomas W. Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley told the press, "The governor is a proponent of bold privatization. That has been his consistent position from day one - and it hasn't changed." In line with this philosophy, Corbett has proposed to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery, and the state's wine and spirit shops.

Jay Sweeney, chair of the GPPA (Wyoming County), responded: " Governor Corbett's privatization philosophy is reprehensible! Privatization is turning public assets over to corporations. We do not need middlemen extracting profit from Pennsylvania residents with Commonwealth assets.  The Governor should end this practice and develop a fair taxation policy that gets the money from those who have it, rather than taking it from those that can't afford it. He certainly knows where to find the money when it's time to fund his campaigns."

While Corbett is a Republican, he is following in the footsteps of Governor Edward Rendell (a Democrat), who proposed the privatization of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and initiated the privatization of public schools and state prisons. Rendell also began the privatization of Pennsylvania's parks and forests by leasing them to corporations for gas drilling (aka fracking).

The Green Party has long been opposed to the looting of public assets by private business for the purpose of enriching the business owners at the expense of the public. The Green Party's national platform as early as 2004 said that Greens " stand firmly opposed to privatization and contracting-out of public services. A government that works for us would provide critical goods and services that should not be run for profit.". .

Because of their political analysis, the Green Party has supported campaigns against the privatization of public education, water supplies and other natural resources, parks and recreation, the military and police, libraries, broadcast airwaves, prisons and Social Security. This includes the Green Party of Luzerne County which took a stand against privatization of parking lots in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

In August 2011, GPPA came out against the privatization of PA Wine and Spirit Shops. Then-Chair of the Green Party I.K. Samways (Allegheny County) said, "The Green Party is leading the opposition to Republican control of our Commonwealth, and I am very pleased that the Green Party will stand firmly against this anti-union legislation." Vivek Ananthan, treasurer of GPPA and then chair of the Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP, www.gpop.org), said at that time, "Privatization at every level has been a failure in this country. Why would privatization of liquor stores be an exception? Rampant capitalism is the cause of our Himalayan-like deficit."

In May, 2012, The Green Party of Philadelphia published its own plan to save the city's troubled public education system. The second of four points in the Green Party's Proposal for Philadelphia's Public Schools reads " The Green Party is unalterably opposed to the dissolution of public schools and the privatization of education. Therefore, our second task is to end all attempts to privatize education, which have been sweeping Philadelphia under the direction of the SRC and their appointed superintendents. We maintain that public education is a public responsibility and that all relevant decisions must be made by community stakeholders and their representatives. We oppose all schemes for corporations to pursue private profits at the expense of public schools and their students and teachers. Studies have shown that privatized schools cost more to run and do not provide an educational benefit to the students."

Then in June 2012, the Green Party of Philadelphia came out against the privatization of the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) by Democratic Party Mayor Michael Nutter. "Privatization of basic utilities is the most egregious example of erring on the side of profit for the few at the expense of the needs of the many," said Belinda Davis, then GPOP Treasurer. "After the most recent examples of corporate greed and its disastrous effects, why would the city even think of selling PGW, except as a short-term budgetary fix? This is short-sighted in the extreme, and the residents of Philadelphia will have to pay for it."

At the PA kickoff for the Green Party's presidential ticket in September 2012, Carl Romanelli, then-chair of GPPA, explained that Greens demand an end to the privatization of mass incarceration. Romanelli said, "It is wrong for people to be put in jail just to service the prison-industrial complex. Our country (with five percent of the world's population) now has 25 percent of the world's prisoners. The presidential candidates from the two corporate parties refuse to talk about this."

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Chris Robinson is a graduate of Central High School (#219) in Philadelphia, PA. He lives in Germantown and was been a member of the Green Party of Philadelphia (www.gpop.org) City Committee from 2011 thru 2017. Chris Robinson is also a member of (more...)

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