Can We Spell “Predatory”?

It’s all about the money…..

Jeff Sessions just reversed an Obama Administration policy that would have ended the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. Studies by the DOJ had concluded that private prisons compared “poorly” to prisons run by the government; one damning report found that privately run facilities were more dangerous than those run by the Bureau.

I’ve previously written about the numerous reasons privatized prisons are a bad idea. For one thing, companies running them actively engage in lobbying for harsh policies and longer sentences.intended to protect and grow their profits.

Government spending on corrections has soared since 1997 by 72 percent, up to $74 billion in 2007. And the private prison industry has raked in tremendous profits. Last year the two largest private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group — made over $2.9 billion in revenue.

According to the Justice Policy Institute, the three main private prison companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts.

The administration is also rolling back enforcement and monitoring of the numerous abuses by predatory for-profit colleges.  Trump has appointed Jerry Falwell Jr., of all people, to head up an effort to “deregulate” such institutions. “Deregulation” will  include new rules on teacher education, a new federal definition of a credit hour, and regulations that require consumer protections for students. Other targets include measures intended to ensure that these schools are actually providing students with marketable skills:  the gainful-employment regulation and the borrower-defense-to-repayment rule. Falwell has a clear conflict of interest, since any reduction in oversight will benefit his own university.

Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos continues to promote educational vouchers– what she euphemistically calls “school choice”–despite mounting evidence that they cheat both children and taxpayers. Doug Masson reports on the research (emphasis mine):

There has really never been strong evidence showing that voucher students do better than students attending traditional public schools. And, recent studies, show that they probably do worse. Given that traditional public schools add value to the community over and above the individual educations they provide to the students who attend, we should conclude and begin unwinding this voucher experiment. To improve public schools, we should look to systems in other countries that are outperforming ours and seek to emulate those things they are doing better…

Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.

The next came from Louisiana where:

They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.

Finally, Ohio, where a study financed by the pro-voucher Waltons concluded, “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools.” Massachusetts seems to have a more successful program than Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio, but it is marked by “nonprofit public schools, open to all and accountable to public authorities. The less “private” that school choice programs are, the better they seem to work.”

In Indiana, the motivating impulse for voucher enthusiasts seems to be a combination of: a) undermining the influence of teachers’ unions; b) subsidizing the preferences of those who would want a private religious education; and c) providing access to that sweet, sweet education money to friends and well-wishers of voucher proponents.

There is overwhelming evidence that private prisons are a dangerous scam. Proprietary colleges rip off taxpayers while obscenely overcharging the students they fail to educate. Vouchers are a thinly-disguised subsidy for religious schools and a profit center for politically-connected “entrepreneurs.”

What’s that song from Cabaret? Money makes the world go ’round.

Welcome to Trumpville.


  1. After reading yesterday’s comments, I feel the need to remind everyone not to feed the troll. You know who it is. I had to self delete a few comments I wanted to make before I realized, oops, I’m playing right into their game. Don’t Feed The Troll!

  2. Can We Spell “Predatory”?

    Trump has become the primary Predator on the media; seeking to obfuscate, cover up and deny all such facts, accusations and White House denials of the above issues and turn the members of the media against one another. It must be a great relief that he has announced he will not attend the White House Press Dinner…IF any members of the press are planning to attend.

    Any thinking American is well aware that the return to using private prisons is to house the victims of Trump’s “roundup of those bad hombres” to protect us. Where are those who have been rounded up; what are the exact charges against them and where are the children of the parents and families caught in the roundups. I am thinking of the picture of the handcuffed 5 year-old, separated from all family members, on the night the immigrants landed and were initially banned from entering the country.

    Trump’s term to “deregulate” school systems became “deconstruction” from the lips of Bannon and fits with DeVos’ outlandish plans for turning our entire school system into “God’s Kingdom”. All of this brought to my mind the final words of W.B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming”:

    “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?”

    Some believe Yeats’ words were a dirge for the decline of European civilization when it was written; it certainly fits the times we in the United States are living through today.

  3. Not only has trump refused to drain the swamp, but he quickly became the most ferocious swamp monster of all and has unleashed a feeding frenzy for his fellow swamp monsters. Everything that is good for the people and the environment is being destroyed so quickly that it is making my head spin.

  4. It’s hard not to succumb to the many appeals for signing on and fund-raising, but we are trying to work with phone calls and e-mails, usually picked by staff rather than our MOC’s. Concentrating on one issue at a time, if possible! Education, health and rights of immigrants and the LGBTQ community seem to be in the forefront for us just now!

  5. Spoons (shovels) are next to worthless for handling bovine excreta. Skid steer loaders are much more efficient. They are going to need to manufacture many,many more skid loaders to take care of Drumpf’s load.

  6. The only guaranteed result of privatization of any kind is profits for some politician’s friends.

  7. Yes, sadly “Trumpville” a great description of what is happening. Besides the song from Caberet, I also recall “Politics and Poker” from the musical Fiorello…. Politics and poker; politics and poker; shuffle up the cards and find the joker. Neither games for children; either game is rough…..

  8. I have been in jail and prison but as a visitor and not officially, thank goodness. Lawyers often visit clients who can’t make bail and those incarcerated after trial and when I was in the practice there were no private prisons to visit. I thought that jails and prisons run by direct public funding were the best we could make out of admittedly negative situations – and still do.

    Private prison business is just that – a business – where the return to shareholders is of primary concern rather than the rate of recidivism of inmates, for instance. Recidivism would, on the contrary, be welcomed by those in the business who are always looking for new business. Contributions to state politicians and lobbying for making speeding a near capital offense (when we are already suffering from over-incarceration due to heavier sentencing guidelines upon conviction for minor crimes) coupled with lobbying for even heavier penalties are all indicative of the business side of the private prison industry, always gussied up for the masses, of course, with flag-waving calls to “get tough on crime” as a cover for enhanced shareholder return.

    I am of the opinion that the private prison industry (which represents one more example of the burgeoning corporate takeover of America), like HMOs and buggy whips, has seen its day, and that government should be in charge of doing things government should be doing, like in matters of fair taxation, healthcare, regulation of financial and environmental activities, and yes, staffing of jails and prisons.

    Recidivism is costly to taxpayers, and parole boards who gather their information on inmates from those who want to keep them in jail so they can make more profit suggests constitutional issues. Inmates are still citizens, most will return to society and mistreatment and malnourishment and longer sentences for such citizens are, in my opinion, likely to increase the rate of recidivism even as their jailer’s profits balloon, and this all aside from humane considerations and the taxpayers’ wallet. “Smaller” government vigorously pursued by some is a fiction in which government functions continue as before at higher cost but with less accountability to the public since such functions are performed sight unseen. Given dictatorial power, I would end the private prison industry. Period.

  9. The basis of neolibralism is that there are haves and have nots and that applies to wealth but should also apply to power. If the have nots are ignored and rendered powerless they will disappear.

    Or, they chose have notism and therefore can choose haveism. Like the choice of gender preference according to Pence.

    Of course that also describes slavery culture. And aristocracy/serf society.

    It’s a repeal of the great enlightenment.

  10. Trump has first hand experience with for-profit ‘higher ed’ called Trump University. The fox wants unfettered access to henhouses.

  11. This has nothing to do with today’s topic. Did taxpayers foot the bill for v-p pence to fly to Texas on Air-Force 2 ? He took his wife and daughter and two veterans to prevent being booed I think.
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 Irvin Korean Vet

  12. ALG is right. You’re feeding the troll or trollette, and he/she is getting his/her jollies out of cranking you up. Don’t play the game. Female Gopper, most likely.

  13. It makes me sad. Just sad. I’m not a lawyer. I don’t play one on TV, but even I can tell that for profit prisons are a bad idea. However I will not give up. In all my thirty seven years I have never seen more people politically engaged than now.

  14. Wouldn’t it be possible to send Face President Donald Trump to a private prison for six months and to a government prison for another six months so that he’ll have something meaningful to talk about? And maybe one prison or the other would do something about his hair … like shave it off.

  15. It’s all about funneling taxpayer money to campaign contributors. Paying taxes is mandatory. Making a profit in business is risky, so let’s eliminate the risk. It seems that virtually every business these days tries to find some way to put its fat fingers into the public till–whether it’s a building project, restaurant, whatever, demanding tax subsidies, government grants, tax abatements, or businesses trying to find a way to take over government services. The fact that we taxpayers don’t benefit, and in fact, receive a poor return on the money taken from us is irrelevant. The fact that a lot of the “profit” the profiteers derive is by denying a living wage, insurance, retirement and other fringe benefits to their employees, which then adds to the burden for the rest of us by lower amounts paid into Social Security, and for things like food stamps because some of them don’t make a living wage, is likewise irrelevant.

    This has to stop, but don’t hold your breath–Republicans ignore facts, other than the amount of profit they can make by getting their hands on taxpayer money. Why aren’t people marching in the streets with torches and pitchforks?

  16. late comment: I realize that the public-governmental -educational complex want to control this massive slush fund, very closely related to the Democratic party, but most PUBLIC educational systems could not withstand any scrutiny. Recently PBS WFYI had a special on Crispus Attucks School. They danced very delicately around the actions of IPS (city schools) AND IU. IU foundation owned much of the near west side, made obscene profits on outhouse equipped rentals (see the 2 story outhouse) let rats, disease etc. because no city agency would enforce against a state related agency. And of course the school bussing under S. Hugh Dillon dug up shameful actions by the INDPLS PUBLIC school board. ALSO Many private proprietary schools deal with students who are 1st gen. college students, woefully unprepared, aiming at modest improvements and reasonable goals. Public colleges have very poor performance records, but are subject to very modest scrutiny. N.B. consider the mistreatment of adjunct faculty nation wide.

Comments are closed.