The Profitable Dismantling of Civil Society

Yesterday Scholars & Rogues featured a pretty ominous look at the serious deterioration of basic American infrastructure. The author, Dr. Denny, points out that our otherwise preoccupied government is normally only moved to action by catastrophes-- like the deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis last year. So that bridge is nearly fixed. They're waiting for a spate of disasters before they do anything preventive. They may not have to wait long and we have far more than "failing bridges to find, fund and fix." Dr. Denny is left cold by the leadership abilities of the current presidential candidates to lead us successfully through a real crisis. Just to keep up, the U.S. would need to spend $225 billion per year for 50 years-- $11 trillion. McCain definitely has a couple wars he'd rather wage. But the country's infrastructure-- not just roads and bridges but also dams, sewage systems, drinking water systems, air traffic control, nuclear plants, electricity transmission lines, levees...-- gets a grade of D. Unfortunately, national politicians don't usually find infrastructure sexy.

Wall Street does, I found out on the radio yesterday. Tens of billions of dollars are coming out of the firms that brought us the real estate and mortgage collapse and going into buying up infrastructure. Alarm bells went off when I heard that the sleazy GOP vulture capital firm Carlisle Group-- whose real estate arm went belly up recently-- is buying up sewer systems and roadways. And they're only one of many.

Republicans want to reduce taxes and let the infrastructure go to hell so that the public supports selling it all off to for-profit companies. Democrats are too cowed to stand up for government functions that have been delegitimized by greed obsessed Republicans (and Blue Dogs and DLC Democrats). So... on to the predators. Today Morgan Stanley-- and I assure you a more unscrupulous and cut throat firm you will never find-- announced that it has raised $4 billion to target investments "that provide public goods or essential services in sectors such as transportation, energy and utilities, social infrastructure and communications." Global Infrastructure Partners (General Electric and Credit Suisse) have capped their infrastructure fund yesterday at $6.5 billion. A new Carlyle subsidiary, Carlyle Infrastructure Partners, formed specifically-- and under heavy political protection-- to rip off American taxpayers and ratepayers is investing $1.5 billion in transportation and water and wastewater facilities, including roads, bridges, tunnels, airport facilities, maritime ports, transit projects and other public benefit infrastructure in the US and Canada. Henderson Investors, CVC Capital Partners, Macquarie (Australia), Rreef, Citigroup, Ferrovial (Spain), Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Alinda are all up to the same thing.

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