You’ve heard that Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos is from the billionaire DeVos family, heirs of the Amway fortune. She’s a big supporter of ‘school choice’, charter schools, vouchers, etc. But this doesn’t quite capture who the DeVoses are. In terms of scale of wealth and intergenerational devotion to laissez-faire conservative ideology that are right up there with the Kochs – with activism ranging from breaking unions to opposing LGBT equality on basically every front. In fact, Betsy DeVos and her family are parts of the network of conservative donors the Kochs have assembled in recent years.
With all that said, I think the best way to look at DeVos’s appointment is as part of a thoroughgoing movement to breakup the public sector – schools, social insurance, roads and infrastructure, public sector unions – and basically privatize everything. With that in mind I wanted to refer you back to our series on privatization. We’ve published three pieces, with one more still to come. 1st: The history of the privatization movement. 2nd: The private prison industry. 3rd: Public-private partnerships – largely dealing with infrastructure and the privatization of municipal services and public goods. If you’ll pardon a publisher’s sense of pride, this is a really good series, capturing the privatization movement not just in its individual dimensions (which are each important) but as an overarching ideological movement which has had an immense impact on American society and looks set to have much more.
I believe that left to his own devices Trump isn’t terribly ideological about most issues and has few settled views and little policy knowledge. But he’s not left to his own devices. He’s surrounded himself with hardcore rightwing ideologues. And that’s been borne out by every appointment to date. Privatization on every front looks to be the order of the day in the Trump administration.