The Free (but Chained) Market

The return of the Gilded Age and cheap, chain-gang labor. It's the American Dream!

"These [private prison] companies can, in most states, lease factories in prisons or prisoners to work on the outside. All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses or manufacturing textiles, shoes and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.

Rarely can you find workers so pliable, easy to control, stripped of political rights and subject to martial discipline at the first sign of recalcitrance — unless, that is, you traveled back to the 19th century when convict labor was commonplace nationwide. Indeed, a sentence of “confinement at hard labor” was then the essence of the American penal system. More than that, it was one vital way the United States became a modern industrial capitalist economy — at a moment, eerily like our own, when the mechanisms of capital accumulation were in crisis."

Private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America and G4S (formerly Wackenhut) lobby to privatize prisons, get lucrative contracts, lobby for more stringent incarceration laws, then lease out sub-minimum wage captive labor at a hefty profit (and at a hefty savings for the Fortune 500 companies that make use of it). It's a win-win for everyone ... right? Except for the prisoners (who can't effectively complain about labor mistreatment, especially in a privatized system) or the non-prisoners who lose the jobs that get outsourced to convict labor.

But at least Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T and IBM (not to mention CCA and G4S) are making money, so that's the important thing. (via +Brandon Sergent) #ddtb
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