The Republican Party is consolidating behind Donald Trump and, on May 12th, House Speaker Paul Ryan kissed the ring of the party’s presumptive presidential candidate, thus sending a signal to other party hacks to get in line. And the line is getting longer every day. Remarkably missing from the Trump-Ryan powwow was any mention of potentially contentious issues of Social Security and Medicare, federal “entitlement” programs. Ryan has long led the effort among Republicans to kill off these programs. He’s repeatedly called for the privatization of Social Security by creating what he calls “voluntary retirement accounts,” essentially private investment accounts run by bankers or other money managers. In similar fashion, Medicare would be privatized so people could purchase a private insurance plan. Trump has strongly supported the two programs, thus raising one of his most contentious positions challenging Republican orthodoxy. During a March 29th interview with a Wisconsin radio station, WROK, he strongly objected to Ryan plan: But I disagree with him [Ryan] on this. You know, Paul wants to knock out Social Security, knock it down, way down. He wants to knock Medicare way down. And, frankly – well, two things. Number one, you’re going to lose the election if you’re going to do that. That’s going to be easy. I was watching Bernie and Hillary debating, and they can’t give enough on that. So you’re going to lose the election. So that’s not the purpose of it. We have to do what is right, but you will lose the election if you do that. But more importantly, in a sense, I want to keep it. These people have been making their payments for their whole lives. I want to keep Social Security intact. Now, I want to get rid of waste, fraud, and abuse. I want to do a lot of things to it that are going to make it much better, actually. But I’m not going to cut it, and I’m not going to raise ages, and I’m not going to do all of the things that they want to do. But they want to really cut it, and they want to cut it very substantially, the Republicans, and I’m not going to do that. How long will Trump hold to his commitments on Social Security and Medicare is an open question as the campaign drags. As he staffs-up his campaign team with far-right economists, policy wonks and politicians, he may become just another conservative Republican but with more provocative flare. The attempt to privatize Social Security and Medicare are but two of a growing number of campaigns underway to privatize key aspects of public or social life. These efforts range from local water services, schools and healthcare insurance as well as prisons and the military. And this says nothing about the effort by private corporations to control the postal service and the telecommunications superhighway. With privatization comes increased cost, the deterioration of quality, the increased power of the 1 percent and America’s deepening social crisis. Water: The Flint, MI, water crisis shined a spotlight on the growing crisis of water supply in America. Is water a public utility, a basic social requirement of life, or merely just one more commodity to be exploited by opportunist corporations? The nonprofit Food & Water Watch conducted a study of 500 of the largest community water systems and found that private, for-profit companies charged households an average of $501 a year for 60,000 gallons of water — $185 more than what local governments charged for the same amount of water. Often overlooked, private corporate sewer services typically charge 63 percent more for sewer service than local government utilities; increased rates for private sewer services ranged from 7 percent in West Virginia to 154 percent in Texas. Equally disturbing, failures or abuses of water service have been documented by for-profit operators in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Education: Private schools have long been the privilege of those who either could afford to send their children to a “better” school or a religious school. Over the last quarter century, the charter school movement of quasi-public schools has emerged. The schools are primarily tax-payer funded and do not permit teachers to be members of a union. In 2015, there were an estimated 6,000 such schools in the US with an enrollment of about 2.3 million. In New Orleans, for example, most schools have been privatized. In a revealing article in the Atlantic, Bruce Fuller discussed how during the 1990s liberal Democrats championed the charter movement. Ember Reichgott, a Democratic Minnesota state senator, proposed the nation’s first charter school law in 1991; the following year, Gary Hart, a California liberal, promoted charter schools as an alternative to vouchers; and in ’93, the recently-elected president, Bill Clinton, backed federal funding for charter school as part of his campaign to “reinvent government.” In the mid-2000s, a New York group of hedge-fund hustles, Democrats for Educational Reform, took up the cause. Today, charter schools are embraced by mega-moguls like the Gates Foundation, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad and Mike Bloomberg. They are a pet project of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Mega hedge-fund magnets like Joel Greenblatt (Gotham Asset Management), Charles Ledley and James Mai (Cornwall Capital) and David Einhorn (Greenlight Capital) are a few of the 1 percenters backing charters.