Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Monday, October 7, 2013

'Vulture-Fund Billionaire' Paul Singer is big charter backer

Mother Jones overturns a rock and shines a light on neo-con "vulture-fund billionaire" Paul Singer, who has become congressional Republicans' most powerful fundraiser. He's been described as a "fundraising terrorist" for his persistence in twisting arms, a skill that has helped drive a major strategic shift among Big Finance donors, who favored Obama in 2008 but now overwhelmingly back the GOP. Recently, Singer has given sizable sums to the billionaire Koch brothers' dark-money projects as well as to the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that has helped tea partiers oust several mainstream Republicans.

Investigative Journalist Greg Palast uncovered debt manipulation by Singer, who he deems "Vulture Singer." Palast writes that Singer's "modus operandi" is to find some forgotten tiny debt owed by a very poor nation (Peru and Congo are given as examples). Singer then waits for the US and European taxpayers to forgive the poor nations' debts; as well as offers of food aid, medicine and investment loans. At this point Singer grabs at every resource and all the money going to the desperate country. Palast writes that trade stops, funds freeze and an entire economy is effectively held hostage. Singer then demands aid-giving nations pay monstrous ransoms to let trade resume. Singer demanded $400 million dollars from the Congo for a debt he picked up for less than $10 million. Palast writes that if Singer doesn't get his 4,000% profit, he can effectively starve the nation. In Congo-Brazzaville last year, one-fourth of all deaths of children under five were caused by malnutrition. -- Source Watch

But not mentioned in the MJ piece or by Palast, is Singer's backing of public school privatization schemes, union busting, and privately-operated charter schools, including Eva Moskowitz' Success Academy Charter Network. Singer is also on the board of the right-wing Manhattan Institute which works to undermine and privatize public education. He was one of the big backers of Jeb Bush's, Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform, which featured the likes of corporate school "reformers" like Joel Klein, John Podesta, Condoleeza Rice, and Arne Duncan.

In April, the AFT included included Singer and three other billionaires on its “watch list” of money managers that support groups hostile to traditional public pensions. The groups include Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst. --Bloomberg

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