From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Cuomo is Letting Billionaires Plan New York's Future. It Doesn't Have to be This Way
Date May 22, 2020 2:26 AM
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[ The New York governor is replacing elected representatives with
private, unaccountable monopolists, and lawmakers across the US are
doing the same thing. Too many decision-makers are ceding their policy
to corporate power and private sector privileg]
[[link removed]]

CUOMO IS LETTING BILLIONAIRES PLAN NEW YORK'S FUTURE. IT DOESN'T HAVE
TO BE THIS WAY   [[link removed]]

 

Zephyr Teachout and Pat Garofalo
May 14, 2020
The Guardian
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_ The New York governor is replacing elected representatives with
private, unaccountable monopolists, and lawmakers across the US are
doing the same thing. Too many decision-makers are ceding their policy
to corporate power and private sector privileg _

`Lawmakers are notably MIA in the middle of a pandemic - and by all
accounts Cuomo likes it that way.', Photograph: Lev Radin/Pacific
Press/REX/Shutterstock // The Guardian

 

Last week, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced that Bill
Gates would be responsible for “reimagining” New York’s
education system. Cuomo also asked former Google chief executive Eric
Schmidt [[link removed]] to lead
a panel planning New York’s post-Covid tech infrastructure.

As Naomi Klein writes
[[link removed]],
the appointments of Schmidt and Gates represent a “Pandemic Shock
Doctrine … that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile
up [and] treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful
necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent
– and highly profitable – no-touch future”.

As she points out, the two billionaires have disastrous records in the
precise areas of public policy they are charged with leading. The
Gates Foundation was the driving force behind high-stakes testing
regimes and the Common Core fiasco. And Schmidt’s vision of the
future is Black Mirror
[[link removed]] with
a bow on it: mass surveillance plus public investment in companies in
which he has a stake.

Even if Schmidt and Gates had good policies, Cuomo’s knighting of
them is offensive to American self-government. Nobody voted for them
and they are accountable to no one. Cuomo, often accused of being too
close
[[link removed]] to
big campaign donors, is tripling down: he is simply allowing
billionaires to plan our future directly, taking out the middlemen.

In case you had any doubt that this is a new form of government
worming its way into our old democratic ways, Cuomo anointed these
tsars at the exact same time that he took vast new powers
[[link removed]] away
from the state legislature, which has not been holding regular
legislative hearings since 1 April. Lawmakers are notably MIA in the
middle of a pandemic – and by all accounts Cuomo likes it that way.

Turning away from locally-elected representatives, and towards
billionaires with no accountability, represents a terrible erosion of
democratic decision-making: Cuomo is quite literally replacing elected
representatives with private, unaccountable monopolists. And too many
other lawmakers across the US are doing the same thing.

From California
[[link removed]] to Florida
[[link removed]],
states are turning
[[link removed]] to big
corporations
[[link removed]],
CEOs and trade associations to not only decide when and how these
states should “reopen”, but also what the post-virus economy
should look like. The various taskforces and panels states have
convened to chart a way forward are populated by executives from
Pepsi, Dell, Disney and other corporations.

The White House has trotted out a steady stream of Wall Street
bankers
[[link removed]], pharma
executives
[[link removed]],
and big-box store CEOs
[[link removed]] to
make promises about pandemic recovery measures. (Which haven’t been
kept – for instance, weeks later, the promised Target and Walmart
parking lot testing sites hadn’t materialized
[[link removed]].)

Meanwhile, the Cares Act, Congress’ coronavirus rescue package, is
an authoritarian, top-down, big business restructuring of the already
monopolized American economy. It gives extraordinary powers to the
treasury secretary to reshape manufacturing, retail and banking in
America, with almost no oversight, via easy access to trillions of
dollars
[[link removed]] from
the Federal Reserve.

Too many decision-makers are ceding their policy to corporate power
and private sector privilege.

Even before this pandemic, turning to big businesses and their wealthy
owners was a common condition of policymaking

Even before this terrible pandemic, turning first to big businesses
and their wealthy owners was a common condition of American
policymaking. When federal lawmakers want to juice the economy, they
pass tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy. When state and
city lawmakers want to promote economic development, they dole out
giveaways to big companies, providing them a leg up over smaller, more
local competitors, often without letting constituents know until the
contracts have all been signed.

When those deals become well-publicized enough – like Amazon’s
HQ2 deal
[[link removed]] with
New York – local communities have shown they can fight back and
stop them
[[link removed]].
These battles aren’t just about subsidies and inequality, they are
about democracy: who governs us?

Deference to big business isn’t smart. The extremely concentrated,
too-smart-to-fail medical industry failed; monopolization and bad
trade policy, championed by the very men who now want to govern us,
has led to mass death and suffering. The medical system couldn’t
take the shock of the pandemic, thanks to outsourced supply chains
[[link removed]] and
a rotting for-profit hospital system
[[link removed]].

Coronavirus has created a constitutional crisis of sorts, one where
the rules of representation, power and decision-making are up for
grabs. As during the Great Depression, the fundamental facets of power
– who has it, what constrains its use – are changing before our
eyes. Monopolists are seizing power and market share for themselves,
setting themselves up as the arbiters of our collective futures.

The pandemic has revealed just how far apart the incentives of big
business and workers and community members are: big business wants to
acquire power and profit. Owners get to stay at one of their many
homes, sanitized, safe, while employees face terrible choices about
the risks they create for their family members by going to work. The
stock market is booming while low-wage, and disproportionately female
[[link removed]] and
minority
[[link removed]],
employees get sick and die in the name of economic recovery.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We must build a post-pandemic
economy that is not only more resilient to external shocks but also
fairer for the workers who bear the brunt of downturns. That’s a
lesson everyone - from the president to Andrew Cuomo
[[link removed]] to your local city
council member – needs to learn, fast.

_[Zephyr Teachout is an associate professor at Fordham Law School
[[link removed]] and the author
of Break ’Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and
Big Money [[link removed]]._

_Pat Garofalo is director of state and local policy at the American
Economic Liberties Project and the author of The Billionaire
Boondoggle: How Our Politicians Let Corporations and Bigwigs Steal Our
Money and Jobs
[[link removed]].]_

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