Synopses & Reviews
America’s leading defender of the public interest and a bestselling historian show us how to prevent the private takeover of our cherished public resources
“An essential read for those who want to fight the assault on public goods and the commons.” —Naomi Klein
As people reach for social justice and better lives, they create public goods—free education, public health, open parks, clean water, and many others—that must be kept out of the market. When private interests take over, they strip public goods of their power to lift people up, creating instead a tool to diminish democracy, further inequality, and separate us from each other.
The Privatization of Everything, by the founder of In the Public Interest, an organization dedicated to shared prosperity and the common good, chronicles the efforts to turn our public goods into private profit centers. Ever since Ronald Reagan labeled government a dangerous threat, privatization has touched every aspect of our lives, from water and trash collection to the justice system and the military.
However, citizens can, and are, wresting back what is ours. A Montana city took back its water infrastructure after finding that they could do it better and cheaper. Colorado towns fought back well-funded campaigns to preserve telecom monopolies and hamstring public broadband. A motivated lawyer fought all the way to the Supreme Court after the State of Georgia erected privatized paywalls around its legal code.
The Privatization of Everything connects the dots across a broad spectrum of issues and raises larger questions about who controls the public things we all rely on, exposing the hidden crisis of privatization that has been slowly unfolding over the last fifty years and giving us a road map for taking our country back.
"The book demonstrates why racial justice is a foundational principle for our democracy and how the racialized dismantling of the public is an attack on our core values as a nation. Racial justice and democracy are inextricably intertwined, and we cannot have one without the other. Both require robust public institutions driven by our values. The authors provide compelling, detailed and unassailable history and case studies on how privatization impoverishes our government and divides our people from each other. It is a powerful call to end these practices and build our public institutions through an equitable vision. We would be wise to heed that call." Glenn Harris, president, Race Forward
"[An] impassioned and well-informed cri de coeur that the decades-long trend of privatizing public services in the U.S. has been a disaster for the average citizen." Publishers Weekly
"A strong, economics-based argument for restoring the boundaries between public goods and private gains." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Donald Cohen is the founder and executive director of In the Public Interest, an Oakland, California–based national resource and policy center on privatization and responsible contracting. His opinion pieces and articles have appeared in the New York Times, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, and the New Republic, among others. He lives in Los Angeles. Allen Mikaelian is an editor and the bestselling author, with Mike Wallace, of Medal of Honor. He lives in Washington, DC.