“See no evil, hear no evil” principle applies to slavery in the US. People smile indulgently and allow that a few thousand sex workers (many underage) in this country are a problem but that is the extent of human exploitation. Some might even throw in child labor and migrant workers. Still peanuts, they say.
How about half a million (conservative estimate)? Got your attention now? Many decades ago miners lived in company towns and paid for lodging, food, and supplies back to the employer. They were paid in tokens and it was slavery in all but name. At the end of the month you were either even or owed the company money – the system was rigged against the workers.
Welcome to American prison, circa 2012. Drug war and the recession have filled the pens to capacity and the whips are cracking; debtor’s prison is back with a vengeance. From Ancient Greece’s debt bondage to Roman Nexum, Medieval Europe’s indentured servants, Britain as seen thru the eyes of Charles Dickens, and arriving today with unemployed fathers locked up under draconian child support laws.
Big government and business are exploiting prison labor. With the inmate population just south of two million and costs to cut, plus complicit bureaucrats, it is a practically a gold rush. The all-important “made in America” tag on products seals the deal, ironic in view of “made in China” mirroring ours, except they use political opponents and ethnic minorities. Quibbles aside, all slaves.
Spurred by the decline of incarceration for violent offenses, and concurrent increase in nonviolent offenders, the pace has picked up recently, thou the problem has existed for decades. The Shawshank Redemption, set in the late 1940’s, has Andy launder the profits from such an operation. Back then was small potatoes; today it’s a multibillion dollar industry.
The prisoners are coerced and extorted to work. They earn mere cents on the dollar for a hard day’s work. Sure, some goes to the victims and to pay their obligations. Most is swallowed by administration and corporations. Outside the walls, politicians pass tough laws (three strikes) and inside them, for-profit prisons benefit. In the freest nation on earth, we are back to the 1800s and company towns. America: the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the furniture made by domestic slaves. Discuss in FORUMS.
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