Saturday, November 6, 2010

Selling America to Big Business: the corporate strategy behind Arizona's SB1070

The disgusting "breathing while brown" anti-immigrant law in Arizona turns out to be heavily inspired by for-profit prison companies. An exposé on NPR reveals that the private prison industry is trying to develop more aggressive anti-immigrant laws to populate their prisons. They see detention for women and children to be a particular growth area.

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.

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.
Again, this is not government by the people. This is government by corporations buying off representatives. It is absolutely corrupt.

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. citation
States 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.


Bob Sloan said...

An interesting companion to the chart's presented would be one showing the increase between the rate of prison labor positions and the declining private sector positions.

Many of the same huge U.S. Corporations backing CCA, Geo Group and funding ALEC, also are involved in prison industries nationwide. Companies like Boeing, Microsoft and BP have closed private sector manufacturing and services and, immediately re-opened the same operations behind prison fences and walls - replacing private sector employees and union workers with prisoners.

I believe statistics would show prison industries have increased at a similar rate as the escalating incarceration rate. It is happening as we speak, only the numbers are hard to nail down. Most corporations using inmate labor try to hide it by using sub-contractors to actually employ inmates or purchase prison made products for the larger corporation.

Oversight for PIECP and prison industries, have been outsourced to the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA). The NCIA's membership is made up of prison industry administrators and their suppliers and vendors. Just as ALEC has corporations and lawmakers determining new laws for us to live by, the NCIA has the backing of ALEC's supporters and financiers and control of the inmate labor pool used as a profit tool by the very same corporations belonging to or funding ALEC.

Read more here on prison labor, ALEC, and corporate interests here:

Robert Sloan
Prison Industries Consultant
Indianapolis, In. - USA

JCF said...

Remember, if we don't give them (Teabaggers) what they want, they'll always turn to Second Amendment remedies anyway!

Yup, Malcolm X agreed: "the Ballot or the Bullet" (though he was just speaking about African Americans getting to vote, NOT a guarantee of the outcome!)

Damn my stupid commitment to Gospel nonviolence! Time to turn my corporate overlords the other cheek again. Sigh.

Karen said...

I am speachless. Outraged and then some.

Grandmère Mimi said...

The Republican politicians are bought and delivered to the corporations, and the Democrats are well on their way.

The Tea Party is not a grassroots movement. The groups are funded by the corporate class and the wealthy, who care not at all about the members of the Tea Party, but are concerned only with maintaining and bettering their positions of privilege. The Tea Partiers are their dupes, for they will not benefit from the policies that they think they want.

I'm afraid that the situation will get much worse before it gets better.

MarkBrunson said...

I'm never absolutely sure that there is a call to nonviolence in the Gospel, except to defend ourselves personally.

I've begun to suspect that it may actually be irresponsible and inexcusable to dither about nonviolence when the future of the populace of the U. S. is in danger.

It's all very well to talk about what we "know" is the reason behind the Tea Party's position and the reprehensible for-profit rationale, but the fact is, it is a huge mass of wilfully-ignorant and violent people who make the causes into the effect. They won't be stopped by words or goodwill, but by force. You have to straitjacket a rampaging psychotic before you can begin to cure him.

JCF said...

Nope, Mark. Can't go there. Won't.

huge mass of wilfully-ignorant and violent people

You could well be correct . . . and then we get the Cross (but also what follows the Cross!)

I could never be a Christian, on the basis of "S/He who dies w/ the most toys, wins."

We're not promised toys.
We're not promised rights.
We're not promised Earthly victory.

We're promised resurrection. (Something no "Second Amendment Remedy" can deliver!)

MarkBrunson said...

That's fine . . . for you, JCF.

But, it's not the only "Christian" perspective. Sorry.

I'm not talking about toys, either, so please, don't patronize or belittle me, which is what you are doing, consciously or not. I'm talking about placing the well-being of the future, and others in the present, above my own well-being, even my own psycho/spiritual well-being.

I could never be a Christian on the basis of waiting for Jesus to ride in and fix it all - we were called to serve, not wait; to bring the Kingdom, not to tell folks it's better after you die. If all we're doing is waiting, then we are a corpse, not the Body of Christ.

JCF said...

If all we're doing is waiting, then we are a corpse, not the Body of Christ.

Well, that's (obviously) not what *I* am saying, so "Don't patronize me" BACK ATCHA!

No, nonviolence isn't the only "Christian" perspective. "Just War" attracts most adherents (even if it's never been followed as Augustine laid it out. Even if it's rather impossible in an age where Total War is both possible and, in human experience, likely).

Or, one can follow the Southern Baptists in worshipping (war-shipping) this Jesus (alleged).

Nope, the Nonviolent Jesus has never been very popular (since Constantine). Just a few crazy Quakers, and Martin Luther King Jr (odd and sundry "Peace Fellowships" within various Mainline denominations).

But he's the one I find (subjectively, of course) via Scripture, Tradition and Reason, so he's the only one available to *me*. Being Episcopalian, I don't like to evangelize---but I have faith that this Jesus saves (neither apart from human action, nor dependent on human action, either. Paradox.)

Oh, and per Louie Crew: this Jesus loves Absolutely Everybody! (That's the main thing)

Peace be with you, Mark.

MarkBrunson said...

Of course Jesus saves - through us.

And I didn't say that you said anything, so back atcha back atcha (Back atcha is verbal violence, btw, and, according to Jesus, that's as bad as doing it).

I find nothing in what Louie Crew says to refute my position. Of course Jesus loves everybody - what's that got to do with this?

Peace doesn't come cheap or individually-wrapped.

David G. said...