The Fox in the Henhouse

How Privatization Threatens Democracy

Si Kahn (Author) | Elizabeth Minnich (Author)

Publication date: 10/27/2005

The Fox in the Henhouse

Privatization has been on the right-wing agenda for years, but now it has the power of the Bush administration behind it. Health care, schools, Social Security, public lands, the military, prisons--all are considered fair game. But does privatization really serve the public good? Or is it a payoff to powerful corporations intent on replacing the government with a 'private profit culture," in which there is no meaningful public accountability and the bottom line rules all? In this powerful book, legendary activist Si Kahn and public philosopher Elizabeth Minnich argue that privatization is a threat whose seriousness few appreciate.

Kahn and Minnich expose the damage privatization has done in several specific areas of society, as well as to society as a whole. They argue that corporations are, by their very nature, unable to effectively fulfill what have traditionally been the responsibilities of government. Some things that are worth doing simply can•t, indeed shouldn•t, be done purely for profit. Unless there is a balance between the public and private sectors, vulnerable populations will be chronically underserved and critical public functions will be under-funded to the point of virtual elimination.

Privatization is usually dealt with in dry economic terms, but Kahn and Minnich take an unusual and lively approach to the issue. Combining stories, analysis, impassioned argument, and even song lyrics, they discuss how the concept of privatization has evolved and look at the different forces that work for and against it, emphasizing the extreme anti-government ideology motivating many privatization advocates. And they outline principles and practices for combating privatization and its proponents.

The Fox in the Henhouse makes a powerful case that the market is not the measure of all things, and that a vital public sector is an indispensable component of a healthy democracy.

  • Read a transcript of Amy Goodman's interview with Si and Elizabeth on Democracy Now!
  • A legendary activist and a distinguished public philosopher address a timely but complex issue in a way that is accessible and compelling
  • Evaluates privatization not just economically, but in social, political, and human terms
  • Offers principles and practices for creating alternatives to privatization and strengthening the public sector

Read more and meet author below



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Overview

Privatization has been on the right-wing agenda for years, but now it has the power of the Bush administration behind it. Health care, schools, Social Security, public lands, the military, prisons--all are considered fair game. But does privatization really serve the public good? Or is it a payoff to powerful corporations intent on replacing the government with a 'private profit culture," in which there is no meaningful public accountability and the bottom line rules all? In this powerful book, legendary activist Si Kahn and public philosopher Elizabeth Minnich argue that privatization is a threat whose seriousness few appreciate.

Kahn and Minnich expose the damage privatization has done in several specific areas of society, as well as to society as a whole. They argue that corporations are, by their very nature, unable to effectively fulfill what have traditionally been the responsibilities of government. Some things that are worth doing simply can•t, indeed shouldn•t, be done purely for profit. Unless there is a balance between the public and private sectors, vulnerable populations will be chronically underserved and critical public functions will be under-funded to the point of virtual elimination.

Privatization is usually dealt with in dry economic terms, but Kahn and Minnich take an unusual and lively approach to the issue. Combining stories, analysis, impassioned argument, and even song lyrics, they discuss how the concept of privatization has evolved and look at the different forces that work for and against it, emphasizing the extreme anti-government ideology motivating many privatization advocates. And they outline principles and practices for combating privatization and its proponents.

The Fox in the Henhouse makes a powerful case that the market is not the measure of all things, and that a vital public sector is an indispensable component of a healthy democracy.

  • Read a transcript of Amy Goodman's interview with Si and Elizabeth on Democracy Now!
  • A legendary activist and a distinguished public philosopher address a timely but complex issue in a way that is accessible and compelling
  • Evaluates privatization not just economically, but in social, political, and human terms
  • Offers principles and practices for creating alternatives to privatization and strengthening the public sector

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Si Kahn

Si Kahn has worked for forty-five years as a civil rights, labor, and community organizer and musician. He began his social justice career in 1965 with SNCC, the student winf of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. During the 1970's, he worked with the United Mine Workers of America on the Brookside Strike in Harlan County, Kentucky, and with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union on the J.P. Stevens campain. In 1980, he founded Grassroots Leadership, a southern-based national organization that works to abolish for-profit private prisons, jails, and immigrant detention centers, as a step towards establishing a system of justice that is truly just and humane.

Si has previously written two organizing handbooks, How People Get Power and Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders, plus The Fox in the Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy, couathored with feminist/public philosopher Elizabeth Minnich, his long-time partner and spouse.



Visit Author Page - Elizabeth Minnich

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Table of Contents



Foreword by Troy Duster
Foreword by Amy Goodman
Preface

Introduction: A Road Map

Part One: Public, It’s Ours; Private, It’s Theirs
Chapter 1: ‘Morning in America?’
Chapter 2: Drawing the Line: Private Versus Public Goods
Chapter 3: Introducing Corporations
Chapter 4: Forms of Privatization

Part Two: Privatization at Work

Chapter 5: A Worst-Case Scenario: For-Profit Private Prisons
Chapter 6: Tracking and Backtracking Politicians
Chapter 7: Keep the Paying Guests Coming: Filling Up the Prisons
Chapter 8: We Love This Problem: Lives for Sale
Chapter 9: Don’t Fence Me In: Private Walls and Public Rights
Chapter 10: Privatizing Against Equality
Chapter 11: Minds for Sale
Chapter 12: Privatizing Social Security: A Case Study of Ideology, Strategy, Tactics

Part Three: The Great Divide

Chapter 13: The Two Cultures of the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 14: Appreciating the Public Sector
Chapter 15: A Fable, and a Fabulous True Story
Chapter 16: An Offer No Corporation Could Refuse

Part Four: Freedom, Revolution, Progress
Chapter 17: The American Dream – Always at Risk
Chapter 18: Differing Visions, Conflicting Values
Chapter 19: ‘Tricking Down’ into the 1980s and 1990s
Chapter 20: Methods that Affect Our Lives
Chapter 21: Resistant Strengths

Afterword

Notes
Bibliography
Index
Resources

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Endorsements



"While we stare at 'American Idol,' the privatizing corporations and their right-wing political buddies are running the Constitution through a paper shredder. Like this excellent and timely book says, these days the foxes aren’t just guarding the henhouse—they’re on the inside. Unless we want to be devoured by the corporate foxes, we chickens better get organized. This book is a great place to start."

--Jim Hightower, New York Times bestselling author and publisher of the populist newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, Founder, Center for Ethical Leadership


"If you care about your children's education, the quality of the air you breathe and the water you drink, affordable health care or Social Security, you need to read The Fox in the Henhouse. Kahn and Minnich have given us a blueprint of how to organize now to protect our country and our future."

--Jan Schakowsky, U.S. House of Representatives

“Few books manage to do what The Fox in the Henhouse does. It provides analytic tools for challenging corporate America's sale of democracy, honors legacies of resistance, and moves us to a vision of hope and action challenging the privatization of our lives and dreams."

--Chandra Talpade Mohanty, educator and author of Feminism Without Borders

"Inspiring to read, this book will be of great value to organizers, activists, and citizens of conscience...Nothing less than our democracy is at stake when extremists want to roll back our hard-earned rights. It offers a spirited blueprint for all citizens who care about renewing America's best and most generous traditions."

--Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor, The Nation

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