WAll Street’s infrastructure racket, Rahm Emanuel

10 May

From Salon, on the corpstate at its best, Chicago-style:

Here is how the “infrastructure trust” works: the city pays for upgrades to its roads, rail or schools with dollars pooled by Emanuel’s friends from the banking and investment world. Meanwhile, the city retains “ownership” of the infrastructure, though this comes at the cost of having to ensure a revenue stream for the fund. Emanuel’s favorite example is his $225 million pet project to green-retrofit some of the city’s older buildings. The savings on energy usage stemming from the renovations are then extracted and used to pay off investors. Of course, the city could also sell municipal bonds to raise necessary funds, and then use the savings in energy costs to pay the loan back at a much lower cost to taxpayers. But then Emanuel’s friends (and campaign donors) would not be the richer for it.

While the mayor bills his plan as “bold” and “innovative,” the reality could not be further from the truth. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been around for decades in various forms and their track record is replete with delays, cost overruns and prolonged legal battles. What’s more, the beneficiaries of these investment mechanisms are the same rapacious Morgan Stanleys and Goldman Sachs that gave us the mortgage-backed securities scandal and the ensuing recession. Using the economic malaise they created as cause, they have ratcheted up their advocacy of PPPs as a means of helping cash-starved public entities finance capital-intensive projects.

The upshot is that they are holding us hostage all over again. They are using infrastructure built over decades with public monies as collateral to extract profit off of the back of taxpayers. A cursory look at some past projects of this nature demonstrates that PPPs are often inefficient, overly costly and inherently unjust.

Examples: the London Underground, Orange County’s privatized HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane, and an expressway from San Diego to Mexico.

 

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