Anyone else troubled by this?
Listen, since Citizens United (where the conservative, activist Roberts court declared corporations to be citizens), we've known that America is now run by companies, not the people. The Tea Party, far from being a populist movement of citizens claiming their rights, is a cynical manipulation by anti-government billionaires.
And the prison industry is now one of the big players. To the point where they are writing the legislation.
Late last year, a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held a meeting in D.C. for its members, which include state lawmakers, assorted organizations like the NRA, and powerful corporations like ExxonMobil. The billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America was also on hand, and connected with state Sen. Russell Pearce (R), who's spearheaded anti-immigrant efforts in Arizona.Again, this is not government by the people. This is government by corporations buying off representatives. It is absolutely corrupt.
A business model was born. As the report explained, "According to Corrections Corporation of America reports reviewed by NPR, executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market."
So, at the ALEC event, members discussed and debated language, and sent Pearce back to Arizona with a proposal in hand. Four months later, NPR's piece noted, "that model legislation became, almost word for word, Arizona's immigration law."
In case this doesn't appear quite nefarious enough for you, also note that most of the co-sponsors of SB1070 were attendees to the ALEC event. The Corrections Corporation of America quickly hired a powerful new lobbyist, and 30 of the 36 co-sponsors received donations from prison lobbyists or prison companies.
Even though crime rates are relatively steady, we lock up increasing numbers of people. There's profit in it: we have a private industry based on profiting off the misery of others. It's an unholy alliance with powerful prison guards' unions who also support increased incarceration. We lock up immense numbers of people for victimless drug crimes, due to hysterical politicization of crime. We never met a prison we didn't like.
In 1970 one in 400 American adults was behind bars or on parole. As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it's one in 31. The number of people behind bars for drug crimes has soared from 40,000 in 1980 to about half a million today. States today spend one of every 15 general fund dollars on maintaining their prisons. citationStates like California eviscerate their education budget to keep prisons funded. And now, the prison companies making a fortune out of this misery are writing laws that will ensure a steady stream of victims, and profits, to come.
This country locks up more people than any other Western democracy.
I hope I'm not the only one completely revolted by this.
Of course, it's not just immigration policy that is set by the companies. Read this New Yorker article for an explanation of how the White House and the Senate between them screwed up any chance of meaningful movement on climate change, which is almost entirely dictated by corporate interests.
Look, I'm not anti-company. But a nation out-of-balance in how it treats business interests is out of balance in the role of government. We have one political party that is committed to feathering the nest of rich corporate oligarchs. And as a result, our infrastructure is crumbling and our education lags behind our economic competitors. Our citizens' health is among the worst in the Western world (in infant mortality we're number 42) and as a rail commuter, I'll tell you we can't even run a train on time.
America, Republican-style. And we just voted the bastards back into office.