The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 1025 — January 9 - 23, 2017

Editorial:
Trump’s Poison
–Dividing the Working Class

Jan 9, 2017

Donald Trump is riding into the presidency spouting the same racist garbage that he used during his campaign, bragging about how he’s bringing jobs back to America. Executives at big companies happily play along. Meanwhile, the news media provides a big stage for Trump and his lies, without question – just like they did during his campaign.

No, Trump is not saving jobs.

Look at the much-touted deal that Trump made at Carrier in Indiana that supposedly “saved” a few hundred jobs. Not only did Trump and the corporate executives strong-arm the Carrier workers to accept big pay and benefit cuts, but the federal and state governments gave Carrier huge new “incentives,” such as tax breaks and subsidies. Those government giveaways come from taxes workers pay, creating big deficits, which officials then use as an excuse to slash vital government services and programs... along with lots of public sector jobs.

Workers at Carrier and throughout Indiana are paying a heavy price for every job that Trump claimed to have “saved.”

Other announcements were simply a smokescreen. Trump announced that Ford would now create 700 new high-tech jobs at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan. In reality, Ford had long planned to do that. Ford first announced this back in December 2015.

In some ways, Trump is doing what other politicians and corporate executives have always done. They lie about creating jobs. Remember how George W. Bush and Barack Obama promised to save auto jobs with the massive government bailout of the auto companies in 2008 and 2009? Auto executives turned around and carried out mass plant and dealership closings, while cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs, devastating cities and towns across the country. As for those left working, the companies imposed enormous concessions – all with the blessings of the same politicians and government officials.

But what is different about Trump is his open racist appeals. Republicans, Democrats and union officials have implicitly resorted to those kinds of lies before. But Trump is making them much more openly, spouting a poison that pits workers against each other.

Workers in other countries are not taking jobs from workers in this country. Want proof? Look at any big auto assembly plant. Over the last 30 years, the number of workers has steadily dwindled, as the line speed has ramped up. Total production is higher than ever. And that’s what’s happening in every industry in this country. Factories in the U.S. are putting out twice as much production as they did 30 years ago, with a much smaller workforce. Today, eight million fewer industrial workers in this country are producing twice as much as workers did 30 years ago.

Those jobs have been taken from the workers by the capitalist class in a real class war that has imposed enormous productivity increases. It has done this not just through more automation and technology, but mainly by forcing workers to work longer and harder, through speed-up, increased overtime, the elimination of breaks, etc.

It’s happening not just in the U.S., but all over the world, including in countries like China and Mexico – which people like Trump claim are the ones taking American jobs. In all those countries, workers are facing the same class war. Many of the same U.S. companies cut jobs by imposing speed-up, leading to worsening unemployment in those other countries.

The workers in other countries are our allies, not our enemies, like Trump and the rest of the capitalist gang want us to believe.

Together, workers around the world produce enough wealth to wipe out unemployment and provide all workers with a decent standard of living. But that wealth is in the hands of the capitalist class, through their big companies and banks. To fall for Trump’s lies means that we disarm ourselves in the face of our real enemies.

Pages 2-3

Unaffordable to Rent OR Buy!

Jan 9, 2017

Is it more affordable to rent or buy a place to live? Turns out in Chicago, the answer is – neither!

According to the “rule of thumb,” you are not supposed to pay more than 30 per cent of your income on housing. But according to a study by Attom Data Solutions, the average rent for a three-bedroom home in Cook County is $1569 – 31.4 per cent of the average pre-tax income. Buying is slightly worse, with an average of $1611 a month for mortgage, insurance, and property taxes.

So, if renting and buying are both unaffordable in Chicago, what do they expect a worker to do?

Land Contracts:
Nothing New Under the Capitalist Sun

Jan 9, 2017

Millions of people have been caught up since the recession in an old scheme for selling homes to poorer people, particularly in the Midwest and the Southeast. Almost half may lose their home.

After the housing bubble collapsed a decade ago, mortgage banks cut back on lending to people with low income and bad credit. Poorer people trying to borrow money to buy a home were out of luck.

That's when Wall Street investors began buying thousands of foreclosed, trashed houses and offering them for sale using the “land-contract” scheme from the 1930s. The “investor” lets the client live in the house as long as the client makes monthly payments, makes repairs, and pays property taxes and insurance. But the client doesn't own the home until having paid each and every payment for 20 years or more. If the client misses one payment, the investor can throw them out without going through any long, expensive foreclosure or eviction process.

The investor makes the most profit by contracting the same house to one client after another, which gives them an incentive to make this happen.

Developed 80 years ago, this same kind of exploitative scheme goes on – because capitalism goes on.

No Sanctuary in the City of Chicago

Jan 9, 2017

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the mayors of other big cities in proclaiming that Chicago was a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants, and that he would not cooperate with any mass deportation plans implemented by Donald Trump.

How hypocritical!

Trump’s threats are certainly disgusting. But while Trump so far offers disgusting words, Rahm Emanuel has ACTUALLY helped craft mass deportation policies. As a U.S. Representative, Emanuel reportedly encouraged many Democrats in Congress to vote for the Sensenbrenner bill in 2005 – the last time a “mass deportation” bill was seriously threatened. And as Obama’s chief of staff, Emanuel helped craft Obama’s immigration policy – which included mass deportations! Emanuel said that any attempt to legalize the undocumented in this country would be like touching a “third rail,” and encouraged Obama not to push any kind of immigration “reform.” Instead, Obama has deported more immigrants than any president in history – more than 2.5 million!

As for the immigrants who live in Chicago, Emanuel has overseen the closure of schools in their neighborhoods, the decline in public services immigrants and other workers rely on, and a massive shift of wealth from all the working class and poor neighborhoods, immigrant ones included, to the wealthy neighborhoods. This includes gentrifying many neighborhoods which used to be full of immigrants, but which are increasingly full of middle class white people, thanks in large part to policies Emanuel has carried out.

Some sanctuary!

Maryland:
Taking from the Poor to Give to the Rich

Jan 9, 2017

Maryland’s Republican governor and Democratic leaders of the legislature are all warning that state budget cuts are coming soon that will hurt social programs. Yet at the same time, they just made a deal that will give 20-million-dollar subsidies to Northrop Grumman Corporation and Marriott International.

Grumman is the largest manufacturing company in Maryland and one of the largest military contractors in the country. It is very profitable. Marriott runs a world-wide chain of hotels from its headquarters in Bethesda, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C.

The governor and legislative leaders claim that state subsidies to these companies are necessary to guarantee they don’t move their operations out of state. But neither company has even been threatening to do that.

Their bi-partisan deal to fork over millions of dollars to each of them while cutting programs ordinary people need shows they are ready to take from working and poor people to give even more to the rich.

Budget Cuts Bring Bedlam to Maryland State Mental Hospitals

Jan 9, 2017

On Thanksgiving Day, patients rioted in a Maryland state mental hospital, injuring two employees. Several employees huddled in an office at the Springfield Hospital Center while patients threw chairs, knocked over filing cabinets, and poured cooking oil over the floors to make them slippery. The bedlam lasted about five hours before a SWAT team was sent in.

The Springfield riot is the latest in a number of violent incidents at Maryland psychiatric hospitals. In 2013, a consultant for the state health department documented serious assaults on hospital staff members at the Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, and two patients were killed by fellow patients at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup. In 2015, there were 551 patient assaults on staff members in Maryland's state psychiatric facilities.

Maryland's psychiatric hospitals have suffered budget cuts, the same cuts seen throughout state governments in recent years. According to state budget documents, the department's Behavioral Health Administration, which operates most of the hospitals, has 100 fewer full-time employees in its institutions than it had in 2015.

At the same time, according to the report to the legislature, the number of adults admitted to state psychiatric facilities has risen more than 10 percent to over 1,000. Most of them are considered “forensic” patients – meaning criminal and court-ordered to the facility.

The situation is now more dangerous for the workers and worse for the patients as well, with overcrowding and less attention for their needs – in other words, the very conditions that led patients to rebel in the first place.

The state is aware of the deficiencies in patient care and worker training and salaries. Even after recommendations for changes in August, nothing has changed.

The situation continues to become more untenable for patients and workers.

Silicon Valley:
Poverty amidst Plenty

Jan 9, 2017

Silicon Valley, the center of California’s wealthy high-tech industry, is also home to widespread homelessness. About 1,150 children in East Palo Alto – that is, more than one out of three students in the school district that includes East Palo Alto – are officially homeless. They live in shelters, RVs or share homes with other families because their parents can’t afford their own housing.

As elsewhere, many of the homeless families of East Palo Alto have at least one member who is working. But the low wages, combined with rapidly increasing house prices and rents, have pushed families into the street.

Only a freeway separates East Palo Alto from wealthy Palo Alto. Often called “the birthplace of Silicon Valley,” Palo Alto is home to the headquarters of Hewlett-Packard, Tesla Motors and Stanford University. Working-class residents of East Palo Alto do much of the work that makes Palo Alto and its high-tech industry run. And yet, more and more working-class families in East Palo Alto are pushed out of their homes because of the gentrification that has spilled out of Palo Alto into their neighborhoods.

Silicon Valley is a symbol of the level of technology humanity has achieved, and a showcase for the fabulous wealth the tech industry generates. But Silicon Valley also shows us what the capitalist system makes out of this wealth. While a small number of capitalists and their cronies get to enrich themselves and live in luxury, workers are deprived of the fruits of their own labor, and more and more working-class families are thrown into poverty.

Illinois Electricity Rate Hike

Jan 9, 2017

As their session for 2016 wound to a close, the last thing the Illinois legislature voted on was to authorize a big rate hike for the electricity company, which the governor approved. As one legislator put it, “we are talking about a multibillion dollar corporate bailout for one of the most profitable energy companies in the state.”

When they voted on this law, Illinois still didn’t have a budget. Schools, roads, public services are in shambles. State workers don’t have a contract, and are faced with demands for massive concessions. Democrats who control the legislature blame the Republican governor, while he blames the Democrats.

But there is ONE thing they can all agree on: helping the big corporations!

Pages 4-5

Rights of Women:
Jacqueline Sauvage Finally Free

Jan 9, 2017

The following article was translated from the January 4 issue of Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers group of that name.

Francois Hollande finally decided to completely pardon Jacqueline Sauvage on December 29, and she was freed the same evening, after having spent four years in a cell.

This 69-year-old woman was sentenced to ten years in prison for having killed her husband in 2012. For 47 years, she was a victim of domestic violence. Two of her daughters were raped by the father, and her son, equally a victim of violence, committed suicide a few hours before the death of the father.

Her liberation is the result of the fight of her support committee and of feminist groups who denounced this injustice, and of all those who joined in protesting her imprisonment. One petition got more than 400,000 signatures. This mobilization pushed Hollande to give her a partial pardon in January 2016. Because of his political cowardice, Hollande was content with this half measure that let the judicial system decide if Jacqueline Sauvage could be released.

On two separate occasions, mid-August and the end of November, the judges decided to leave her in prison, invoking as an excuse that she maintains a “discourse of victimization.” In November, the judges justified their decision by explaining that Jacqueline Sauvage did not express a “real and authentic feeling of guilt” and had shown “poor and limited reflection.”

Persisting in this attitude at the announcement of the presidential pardon, Virginie Duval, president of the main union of judges, denounced “a new attack on the independence of the justice system by the executive.” But this avoids the fact that the judicial apparatus barely pretends to protect women who are victims of domestic violence. In France, a woman dies of violence at the hands of her husband or partner every three days. Two hundred and twenty-three thousand women are victims of serious domestic violence. Of these, just 14 per cent dare to lodge a complaint, terrified at the idea that their abuser will not be stopped and that they will face reprisals. At her trial, this was the principal reproach that the judges aimed at Jacqueline Sauvage: she never lodged a complaint. But they know the statistics; they knew very well that women are confronted by cops who minimize the problem.

The case of Jacqueline Sauvage shows that, faced with the hypocrisy of the reactionaries, the indifference of the judicial institutions and the cowardice of the political class, in order to reduce sexist violence and more generally to defend their rights, women can only count on their own mobilizations.

Mentally Ill Prisoners in Michigan

Jan 9, 2017

Republicans in the Michigan House have the nerve to raise concerns about the amount of money that will be spent for mentally ill inmates.

They are right that there are huge numbers of mentally ill people in prison and jail. There has been a 14 percent increase since 2012 in the number of mentally ill inmates in prison, so that today, 23 percent of all prisoners in Michigan have a mental illness. In the county jails, it’s even worse: up to 64 per cent have a mental illness, according to Governor Snyder’s office.

But these politicians are the ones who created the problem! Republican Governor Engler eliminated all the facilities for mentally ill people years ago. Under Democrat Granholm and Republican Snyder, funding for mental health services has continued to get cut further and further, so that huge numbers of people do not get the treatments they need and instead cycle in and out of the criminal justice system.

These disgusting politicians have nothing to offer society’s most vulnerable, mentally ill people except the brutality of prison and jail. And all they can think to complain about is the cost!

Migrants:
The Damned of the Earth

Jan 9, 2017

The following article was translated from the January 4 issue of Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the French revolutionary workers group of that name.

On January 1, a thousand migrants stormed the fence at Ceuta, in Spain, which is the land border between Africa and Europe.

To stop the refugees from reaching Europe, a double barrier 20 feet tall, reinforced by barbed wire and surveillance has been erected. Only two migrants made it into Spain, the others were driven back to Morocco. This assault was particularly violent; the migrants were armed with iron bars, shears, and rocks to confront the forces of order.

The number of migrants who flee war and poverty has only grown these last years. There were 320,000 Syrian refugees in 2012, and five million in 2015. In total, the UN’s High Commission for Refugees counts 21 million refugees and 65 million uprooted people in the world.

The poorest countries have taken in the biggest numbers of these refugees. Refugees make up a quarter of the population of Lebanon. Kenya has many refugee camps, and the biggest, Dadaab, has 640,000 refugees. Turkey has taken in 2.5 million refugees and Pakistan 1.6 million. These men, these women, these families, are crammed in for years, without a future, most with no possibility of working, without a chance to really take care of or educate their children.

Europe has only taken in 6% of the total of refugees. The richest countries that have the greatest means to welcome people close their borders, raise higher and higher walls ... and condemn millions of people to keep on risking their lives.

Nestlé Takes Michigan’s Water for Profit

Jan 9, 2017

Nestlé has water wells in Evart, Michigan in Osceola County. It is pumping 400 gallons per minute of ground water out of Michigan in order to bottle it and sell it for profit.

In the decade from 2005 to 2015, Nestlé has withdrawn an estimated 3.4 billion gallons of water from its well fields in Michigan.

What does Michigan get in return? Nestlé pays $200 to pump approximately 210 million gallons out of the ground. In other words, the state gets one dollar for every million gallons plus.

At the same time, there are water shutoffs in Detroit and totally destroyed water in Flint.

The state of Michigan is giving essentially free water to Nestlé so they can make profit. But, they can’t afford to deliver bottled water to the homes of all the residents in Flint? For starters, let Nestlé provide free bottled water to the residents in Flint!

We Are Paying Companies to Shelter Their Profits in Other Countries

Jan 9, 2017

Not only do U.S. companies shelter their overseas profits in other countries to avoid paying taxes to the IRS, but we, the tax payers, pay these companies to keep these profits overseas.

For example, Apple has a holding company located in Ireland. Apple’s foreign sales, which account for 60% of Apple’s profits, are not brought to the U.S., but are kept in Ireland through this subsidiary. Otherwise, Apple would have paid a 35% tax on their profits to the IRS. Apple’s Irish holding company pays no taxes to Ireland to keep this money there. This is perfectly legal under U.S. tax laws.

Also, as “icing on the cake,” the U.S. government pays Apple to keep its money in Ireland, according to Bloomberg. To do this, Apple takes advantage of another U.S. tax code, which states companies can repatriate income without paying a penny in taxes—as long as it is used to buy Treasuries or other U.S. securities like stocks and corporate bonds.

According to this additional tax evasion scheme, Apple uses its money kept in Ireland and purchases U.S. government bonds. In return, the Treasury Department pays interest to Apple. This interest amounted to at least $600 million and possibly much more over the past five years. This money comes out of our taxes paid to the IRS each year.

Apple is not alone in taking advantage of U.S. tax payers. Many of the biggest U.S. companies have exploited the same U.S. tax law. The top 10 U.S. companies alone hold more than $100 billion of U.S. government bonds, according to Bloomberg.

So, we pay taxes each year on or before April 15. On the other hand the companies evade paying taxes through various schemes, and we also pay these companies to evade their taxes. After all, the companies control the U.S. government which writes such tax laws beneficial for them.

The U.S. Should Know About Foreign Interference!

Jan 9, 2017

U.S. intelligence agencies are crying foul, claiming the Russians hacked into computer networks and released emails in order to interfere with the U.S. election. The U.S. is complaining about foreign interference? The U.S. wrote the book on foreign interference!

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries. The U.S. has made at least 81 attempts between 1946 and 2000, according to Carnegie Mellon University.

This influence included funding campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation, training only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, making public pronouncements or threats against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid. Two-thirds of these acts were carried out in secret. In 59 percent of these cases, the side that received assistance came to power.

Throughout the cold war and after in Haiti, the Middle East, Egypt, Israel, Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia, to name just a few places, the U.S. intervened in the elections of other countries.

Under President Bill Clinton, Russia was targeted. In 1996, with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and the Russian economy failing, Clinton endorsed a 10.2 billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund linked to privatization and other measures that would move Russia toward a capitalist economy.

Now the U.S. is crying because Russia decided to follow suit. As the saying goes: what goes around, comes around!

Michigan Robs the Unemployed

Jan 9, 2017

On January 5, the State of Michigan removed the director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency. An agency spokesperson announced a “top-to-bottom review.”

The state admitting to problems was a dramatic reversal. Ever since 2013, thousands of applicants for unemployment benefits have had their wages and tax returns wrongly seized over false fraud accusations. One distraught claimant reportedly committed suicide.

Previously Michigan’s attorney general had fought to dismiss a class action lawsuit brought by the unemployed, claiming no harm had been done to them.

Problems for the unemployed began when Michigan implemented a new computer system in the fall of 2013. An automated program called MiDAS started wrongfully convicting unemployed applicants of fraud. What the computer was calling “fraud” were mostly typing and clerical mistakes. Making a bad situation horrible, one third of employees in the Unemployment Agency were laid off – right before this automated program went on line. So there was not enough staff to deal with the massive errors the new program was generating.

Over time, the unemployed began to fight back. They got legal help and they were able to get media attention. Their efforts led to investigations. A state audit last year and a federal audit this year both found the same thing. The computer was wrong 93 percent of the time! Almost all of the unemployed who were fined up to 400 percent and faced aggressive collections were innocent.

According to a state spokesperson, in 2,571 cases, Michigan has now refunded money adding up to 5.4 million dollars.

But according to news reports, more than 50,000 cases of wrongful fraud determinations were made before the state stopped using the automated MiDAS system.

The massive fraud that DID happen was NOT the unemployed filing false claims but Michigan seizing wages and tax returns from as many as 50,000 innocent unemployed workers!

Where is ALL that wrongly seized money? According to Fox 17 News in West Michigan, at least 150 million dollars is sitting in the “Unemployment Insurance Agency Contingent Fund” – largely from these penalties.

And in related news, Michigan’s Governor Snyder has a bill sitting on his desk that would use 10 million dollars from the “Unemployment Insurance Agency Contingent Fund” to plug a hole in the state budget. THAT money belongs to the wrongly accused unemployed. Give it back now!

Pages 6-7

New Attacks Coming on Social Security

Jan 9, 2017

Congress is signaling that a renewed attack on the Social Security system is coming. The Congressional Budget Office just issued a report that claims the system will run out of the funds necessary to continue current benefits in 2031 and that benefits would then have to be cut by 31 percent!

Every government since the Reagan administration has raised alarms about how Social Security will run out of money – decades in the future – and declared that we need to raise Social Security tax rates, cut benefits now and/or privatize the whole system. Wall Street would dearly like to get its hands on the nearly one trillion dollars in the Trust Fund!

But even if the latest projections are accurate, one thing is sure: Social Security could be fully funded for another 75 years or more by simply requiring wealthy people to pay Social Security taxes on all their earnings. Currently earnings more than $127,200 a year are not taxed.

This would eliminate any excuse for proposals to increase Social Security tax rates, cut benefits or privatize the system. But that is not what we see when the goal is to take more from the working class and give it to Wall Street!

Baltimore Workers Know Wilbur Ross Very Well

Jan 9, 2017

Wilbur Ross, proposed by Donald Trump as the next secretary of commerce, made his millions buying bankrupt companies.

He turned these bankrupt companies into properties worth billions by laying off thousands of workers, refusing to pay into their pension funds, and ending medical coverage for retirees and their families.

Ross bought Bethlehem Steel in 2001, including the Sparrows Point plant on the outskirts of Baltimore, which had once employed 30,000. At the point Ross bought Bethlehem, it still had about 4,000 workers in Baltimore. Ross’s group spent about 450 million dollars to buy Bethlehem. Three years later, Ross sold it to another steel company for four and a half billion dollars – 10 times what they spent!

Bethlehem Steel continued its steep decline under Ross and subsequent management. Layoffs continued, pensions were cut and workers had to pay the medical costs they had once been promised in retirement.

Executives, of course, didn’t talk of the expensive debt accumulated when plants changed hands, nor the tremendous productivity gains that allowed one steelworker to produce as much steel as had three steelworkers a generation earlier. It was always easier for the bosses to blame “foreign” steel, with lower-paid workers.

Ross used the bankruptcy courts before other bosses did – in purchasing textile companies, steel companies and later coal companies, then shedding any obligation to laid-off and retired workers. That is how Ross and others like him became billionaires.

Page 8

Fights like Those Led by Dr. King Are Needed Again

Jan 9, 2017

On January 16 workers around the country will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The holiday symbolizes the tremendous fight made by an earlier generation – a fight that brought gains for all working people around the country.

More and more, however, those gains are being reversed, and in many ways the conditions faced by the black population are worse today than those the black movement stood up against. If certain things changed for a period, the gains are now mostly enjoyed by a more sizable black middle class, not by the black working class and the poor.

Segregation laws may no longer be present, but segregation in fact still widely persists. Black people still suffer from a lack of access to jobs, which increasingly have been moved out of the inner cities where large portions of the black working class reside. Education and training needed for those jobs has also been drastically slashed in black communities. Social programs won by the movements of the sixties and earlier periods providing at least a weak approximation of a safety net for people without a job have also been slashed.

American capitalism’s answer to the lack of decent jobs and quality education for the black population has become mass imprisonment. Democrat and Republican politicians together passed crime bills establishing more lengthy prison sentences for crimes committed by the poor. Black people are disproportionally pulled over for minor traffic violations or arrested for shoplifting or minor drug offenses and wind up spending the rest of their lives in prison.

These laws created what’s been called a “playground-to-prison pipeline,” providing cheap prison labor to big corporations and huge profits for companies contracting to build and provide services to the prison system. As a result, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, which is highest in the black community.

There may not be much of a Ku Klux Klan today, without the same kind of public lynchings, but the cops do many of the same things in their place. They kill more black people today than occurred during most of the period of the Klan.

American capitalism depends on racism. It maintains a black working class available to work at lower wages. This situation, in turn, harms the entire working class, whether or not the white working class realizes it. When the black population can be forced to live and work under worse conditions, so can white workers.

There is no other answer to the situation than the one carried out by the original black movement. The gains that were won came through fights led first by leaders of the pacifist civil rights movement, later by others with a more militant stance, but particularly by the urban rebellions that took place all across the country.

But to win real, permanent change that benefits the black working class and the working class in general, the fight this time cannot stop halfway, as the black movement and others it inspired did, leaving in place a class system, with racism at its very base. A new fight by the black population could pull behind it other parts of the working class, which need to see their interests lie in a common struggle. It will have to go all the way to socialist revolution.

Betsy DeVos:
A Choice for Gutting Public Schools

Jan 9, 2017

Donald Trump’s choice for Education Secretary is Betsy DeVos.

For 30 years DeVos has pushed for the privatization of public schools in the state of Michigan. And she has had the support of Democratic governors, as well as Republicans. She pushed for charter school laws in Michigan that are the loosest in the country, opening the door for 80 percent of Michigan charters to be run by for-profit corporations. Michigan now sends a billion dollars to those charter schools every single year – money being drained away from public school districts, especially those in Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids.

And she helped block any attempt to regulate those charters, allowing them to stay open even when they are shown to be poor.

Michigan’s rank has plummeted on national reading and math test results.

Even more than charters, DeVos is a big supporter of school vouchers, which would very directly allow public school money to be taken and used for private school tuition. She poured money into a Michigan ballot initiative to establish vouchers in 2000, which voters overwhelmingly voted against.

DeVos presents herself as a defender of choice for children’s education. No, she’s anti-choice! The people of Michigan chose. They voted her proposal down. But that doesn’t matter to her.

DeVos is hostile to public education in part because she thinks it has “displaced” the church as the center of communities. She sees the fight against public schools as part of her battle to “advance God’s kingdom.” Her school choice plan would especially benefit religious schools, which could then get public money to push their agendas.

In order to push her religious agenda and make money off the schools, DeVos wants to privatize education. And that fits perfectly with Trump’s goals. Candidate Trump proposed taking 20 million dollars in federal funding and steering it into a nationwide voucher system. The 20 million dollars most likely would come from Title I money that goes to districts serving the country’s poorest children.

So much for caring about what would be good for people. Trump and DeVos only care about what will be good for business and for a narrow religious agenda.