Members of Congress are living off food stamps for a week to protest Republican cuts. It’s a challenge for them, but GOP cuts would hurt millions of everyday Americans.
Why does this not have more publicity. This needs it!
Prison Labor Exposed: From Starbucks to Microsoft - A sampling of what US prisoners make & for whom
May 21, 2013
Tens of thousands of US inmates are paid from pennies to minimum wage—minus fines and victim compensation—for everything from grunt work to firefighting to specialized labor.
The breaded chicken patty your child bites into at school may have been made by a worker earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners. At the UnionCorrectional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a nearby lower-security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), a privately held non-profit corporation that operates the state’s forty-one work programs. In addition to processed food, PRIDE’s website reveals an array of products for sale through contracts with private companies, from eyeglasses to office furniture, to be shipped from a distribution center in Florida to businesses across the US. PRIDE boasts that its work programs are “designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.”
And Each month, California inmates process more than 680,000 pounds of beef, 400,000 pounds of chicken products, 450,000 gallons of milk, 280,000 loaves of bread, and 2.9 million eggs (from 160,000 inmate-raised hens).Starbucks subcontractor Signature Packaging Solutions has hired Washington prisoners to package holiday coffees (as well as Nintendo Game Boys). Confronted by a reporter in 2001, a Starbucks rep called the setup “entirely consistent with our mission statement.”
Texas inmates produce brooms and brushes, bedding and mattresses, toilets, sinks, showers, and bullwhips.
In Texas, prisoners make officers’ duty belts, handcuff cases, and prison-cell accessories. California convicts make gun containers, creepers (to peek under vehicles), and human-silhouette targets.
A stitch in time: California inmates sew their own garb. In the 1990s, subcontractor Third Generation hired 35 female South Carolina inmates to sew lingerie and leisure wear for Victoria’s Secret and JCPenney. In 1997, a California prison put two men in solitary for telling journalists they were ordered to replace “Made in Honduras” labels on garments with “Made in the usa.”
Open wide: At California’s prison dental laboratory, inmates produce a complete prosthesis selection, including custom trays, try-ins, bite blocks, and dentures.
Constructive criticism: Prisoners in for burglary, battery, drug and gun charges, and escape helped build a Wal-Mart distribution center in Wisconsin in 2005, until community uproar halted the program. (Company policy says, “Forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart.”)
On call: Its inmate call centers are the “best kept secret in outsourcing,” Unicor boasts. In 1994, a contractor for gop congressional hopeful Jack Metcalf hired Washington state prisoners to call and remind voters he was pro-death penalty. Metcalf, who prevailed, said he never knew.
Federal Prison Industries, a.k.a. Unicor, says that in addition to soldiers’ uniforms, bedding, shoes, helmets, and flak vests, inmates have “produced missile cables (including those used on the Patriot missiles during the Gulf War)” and “wiring harnesses for jets and tanks.” In 1997, according to Prison Legal News, Boeing subcontractor MicroJet had prisoners cutting airplane components, paying $7 an hour for work that paid union wages of $30 on the outside.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
CAN FUCKING BURN FOREVER
FOR FUCKING EVER
Who’s Getting Rich Off the Prison-Industrial Complex?
You likely already know how overcrowded and abusive the US prison system is, and you probably are also aware that the US has more people in prison than even China or Russia. In this age of privatization, of course, it’s also not surprising that many of the detention centers are not actually operated by the government, but by for-profit companies. So clearly, some people are making lots and lots of money off the booming business of keeping human beings in cages.
But who are these people?
Using NASDAQ data, I looked through the long list of investors in Corrections Corporation of America andGEO Group, the two biggest corporations that operate detention centers in the US, to find out who was cashing in the most on prisons. When we say “prison-industrial complex,” this is who we’re talking about.
The individual who’s invested the most in private prisons is Henri Wedell, who started serving on CCA’s board of directors in 2000, when the company was struggling with scandals related to prisoner abuse and mismanagement. He now owns more than 650,000 shares in the company, which is far more successful these days. Those shares are worth more than $25 million.
I called Wedell to ask him what it was like to make a fortune from the incarceration of others, and whether it bothered him to profit off a system that puts more people in prison than any other country in the world.
“America is the freest country in the world,” he told me. “America allows more freedom than any other country in the world, much more than Russia and a whole lot more than Scandinavia, where they really aren’t free. So offering all this freedom to society, there’ll be a certain number of people, more in this country than elsewhere, who take advantage of that freedom, abuse it, and end up in prison. That happens because we are so free in this country.”
Presumably, when he’s referring to all the freedom Americans have, he’s not including the 80,000 inmates in 60 prisons operated by CCA.
What if Millennials’ aversion to car-buying isn’t a temporary side effect of the recession, but part of a permanent generational shift in tastes and spending habits? It’s a question that applies not only to cars, but to several other traditional categories of big spending—most notably, housing. And its answer has large implications for the future shape of the economy—and for the speed of recovery.
Read more. [Image: Kagan McLeod]
It’s safe to say that a decent number of Tumblr users are a part of the Millennial generation. So, tell us: Do you own a car or house? If not, why?
IT’S BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO DISPOSABLE INCOME YOU THUNDERING IDIOTS. Fucking preference has nothing to do with it. 50% of college graduates have no job! They all have the most student loan debt ever! What are you asking this question for?!
Also: housing is a good bit more expensive now.
My parents got a 15-year mortgage on a new house in the mid-70s. The house was $32,000. Average home price in that area now? $190,000.
So, home prices went up. Food prices went up. Health care prices went WAY UP. Rent prices went up. Higher education went up so damn high that some of us forgo that all together. Energy prices went up. Car prices went up.
Prices of prices went up.
We also pay cell phone bills, internet bills, data plans, text plans, online subscriptions, cable/satellite tv, netflix, DVR subscriptions — bills that didn’t even exist 30-40 years ago. We also use computers and smartphones and microwaves and other consumer electronics that didn’t exist 20-50 years ago.
We need medications and doctors and contact lenses and tampons and maxi pads and other things that cost money just to be alive and keep us healthy.
Most of us can’t afford to:
- Get married and have a “Traditional” big wedding
- Buy a house
- Buy a new car
- PLAN to have children
- Take two, consecutive weeks of vacation.
Jobs that paid 50k in the late 1990s now pay between 30-35. Interest rates that favor consumers have gone down.
So I say, no. We are not choosing not to buy homes. We’re not choosing to take the bus in cities where there’s no good public transit. WE ARE NOT CHOOSING TO LIVE WHAT SOCIETY DEEMS AS AN UNDESIRABLE LIFESTYLE.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that these two people in the picture are young white hipsters. Young black and brown folks have been forgoing homeownership and buying new cars for decades, this shit isn’t new, pal. You’re just acting like this shit is new because it’s hitting white folks.
anyway, my point is: We are fucking broke.
“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.” ― Thomas Jefferson
Capitalism treats deaths in the line of business as an unfortunate consequence.
* also the same Texas fertilizer was looking forward to their court hearing against Monsanto that they sued months ago… hmm
* The Lethal Irony of Playing the Russian Roulette with Your Brain.
Cheney’s Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War
The accounting of the financial cost of the nearly decade-long Iraq War will go on for years, but a recent analysis has shed light on the companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels.
Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops.
Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to an analysis by the Financial Times that was published Tuesday.
The No. 1 recipient?
Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007.
The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg.
Who were Nos. 2 and 3?
Agility Logistics (KSE:AGLTY) of Kuwait and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Together, these firms garnered $13.5 billion of U.S. contracts.
As private enterprise entered the war zone at unprecedented levels, the amount of corruption ballooned, even if most contractors performed their duties as expected.
According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies.
Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying governement employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved. No-bid contracting - when companies get to name their price with no competing bid - didn’t lower legitimate expenses. (Despite promises by President Barack Obama to reel in this habit, the trend toward granting favored companies federal contracts without considering competing bids continued to grow, by 9 percent last year, according to the Washington Post.)
Even though the military has largely pulled out of Iraq, private contractors remain on the ground and continue to reap U.S. government contracts. For example, the U.S. State Department estimates that taxpayers will dole out $3 billion to private guards for the government’s sprawling embassy in Baghdad.
The costs of paying private and publicly listed war profiteers seem miniscule in light of the total bill for the war.
Last week, the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University said the war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in immediate benefits owed to veterans of the war and the lifetime benefits that will be owed to them or their next of kin.
In 2008, anti-capitalist campaigner Enric Durán borrowed €492,000 ($642,306) from 39 different financial entities with absolutely no hope or intention of paying it back. But—as you might expect from an anti-capitalist campaigner—he didn’t spend it…