PRIVATIZING FIRST RESPONDERS: THE NEW CARPETBAGGERS, By Louise Annarino, October 30, 2012

30 Oct

Privatizing First Responders: the New Carpetbaggers, By Louise Annarino, October 30, 2012

April 22,1970. My friend Daisy Ouwelein saw the fruition of her organizing work on the campus of The Ohio State University as we celebrated the first Earth Day with millions of fellow Americans. Rachel Carson had published SILENT SPRING a year earlier, alerting us to the dangers of DDT and pesticides. In 1969 a massive oil spill despoiled the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Dead rivers carried industrial pollutants to the Great Lakes. Daisy had asked my help to promote and involve others in the day’s activities: Senatorial Candidate and former astronaut John Glenn spoke about his proposed anti-pollution legislation in Hitchcock Hall. Students learned about their “responsibility of the land” from the editor of Field and Stream magazine,Mike Frome, at the Ohio Union. Students walked the polluted Olentangy River which flowed through campus, many students needing medical treatment for rashes and infections after wading or being jokingly thrown in it. Organizing workshops were held on how to handle and fight environmental problems.

Earth Day’s founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media and persuaded Congressman Pete McCloskey, (R-CA)to serve as co-chair. His National Coordinator  Dennis Hayes, with a staff of 85, promoted events across the country. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement. Students nationwide were already mobilized on college campuses in opposition to the Viet-Nam War. At OSU, students were in the midst of protests to end campus racism and establish a Black Studies Department, as well as end the war. The environmental movement became part of our generation’s understanding that the corporate world was using us as fodder for war and profit, with no concern for the destruction of human and environmental ecology.

Today, we see a continuing battle against these forces who refute the overwhelming evidence of climate change, genetically modify our foods, and wage war to seize and control natural and labor resources. They continue to pollute our soil/ air/ water, create disease in our children; and ask us to accept that “based on rates from 2007-2009, 41.24% of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites at some time during their lifetime. This number can also be expressed as 1 in 2 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of all sites during their lifetime.” http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html#incidence-mortality

As I watch events unfold over eastern 1/3 of The U.S. from Hurricane, now Tropical Storm, Sandy I wonder at those who would vote for a candidate who openly attacks environmental regulation and control, is unwilling to maintain and fund FEMA, who seizes and controls labor at home and abroad by outsourcing jobs,and who questions the very existence of climate change.  Presidential candidate Romney states that “it is immoral” for the government to pay for emergency responders, passing on the cost to his grand-children. Instead he argues that emergency response should be “privatized”. I for one do not want to sit in my attic as waters rise, wondering if a private company finds it profitable to rescue me, or if a private fire company thinks my home is worth saving from a fire. Think I exaggerate? It has already happened because of a  Tennessee family’s failure to pay a $75 fee.

Imagine if emergency services had been privatized in New York on 9-11; or today while first responders search and rescue in Atlantic City, NJ and across the Eastern Seaboard. Imagine if the unions of government workers had failed to oppose efforts to eliminate government workers. When there is trouble of this magnitude, when so many lives are threatened and our cities face unimaginable  infrastructure losses, “Who Ya Gonna Call?” Ghostbusters? No, city, county and state workers, the national guard and the coast guard. And who is going to coordinate this effort across geopolitical boundaries? And who is going to assist smaller towns and cities to handle the heavy costs incurred? The federal government, FEMA, and a president who keeps private profit out of the formula to maximize results at lowest possible cost, spread wide to absorb the sticker shock for an individual person or community. This is how it works best. This is what we have learned over time.

Those who ask us to privatize government functions are the new “carpetbaggers”. Like those carpetbaggers who descended upon a broken South when it was at its most vulnerable, to make personal profit as it struggled to restore some economic stability, today’s carpetbaggers have targeted the entire country,perhaps the entire world, as an “easy mark”. I have mentioned before the shell game https://worthingtonforobama2012.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/a-debate-or-a-shell-game-whom-does-romney-think-he-is-kiddingby-louise-annarino-october-1-2012/ being played out during the 2012 election. As you watch events unfold over the next hours and days, keep in mind that increasing environmental threats are real. Our first responders are even more important to our survival and entitled to not only our thanks, but to our financial support for the risks they take to protect us. They come when called out of civic duty; not to profit off our suffering.

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