Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Continuing Revolution of Authoritarian Capitalism

Is the Cultural revolution coming to America? Via BoingBoing:

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office has offered Occupy protesters a get-out-of-jail card: all they need to do to skip their court dates is pay $355 for private "free speech lessons" where they will be taught a highly selective version of Constitutional law that holds that the First Amendment doesn't include the kind of protest they enjoy.

It's like they combined traffic school with Maoist "self-criticism sessions" from the Cultural Revolution to make something worse than both combined.

Here's another similarity with China that shows where we are headed - the use of forced prison labor in the economy is continuing to expand rapidly, this time in the name of "saving taxpayers money". Expect this to become more common, since the United States has a quarter of the world's prisoners:
RACINE, Wis.—When Racine finally gets measurable snowfall, county officials plan to use inmates to shovel snow from downtown sidewalks and crosswalks.

Sheriff Chris Schmaling says the only inmates who can participate are those jailed for non-violent offenses, considered low risk and on work release.

A Journal Times of Racine report ( ) says work-release inmates have already been used to shovel snow from the courthouse steps and to mow grassy medians.

Snowplowing crews concentrate on city streets first, so crosswalks in the business district don't get immediate attention. Devin Sutherland of the Downtown Racine Corp. says the extra shoveling will make the district easier to navigate.

He says the inmates are no different from those released from jail to work at regular jobs, and he hopes the arrangement doesn't spark unnecessary concern.,0,5302894.story
 And see this: Prison Labor: Outsourcing's Best Kept Secret
When word spread earlier this month that an Indian IT services company planned to set up a 200-person business process outsourcing unit in an Andhra Pradesh jail , it wasn't long before the snark began flying. Are captive centers on the rebound? Imagine the low attrition rates! Inmates working for banks—what could possibly go wrong?

When Phil Fersht, founder of outsourcing analyst firm Horses for Sources, first heard about it, he says, "I thought it was a joke."

Meanwhile, in the U.S., prisoners have been handling a variety of business services for private corporations since 1999. In 2002, they began taking on call center work. Nearly 1,100 inmates locked up in eight federal prisons from Dublin, Calif. to Morgantown, West Va. man tier-one help desks, handle outbound business-to-business calls, and provide directory assistance for Federal Prison Industries (FPI).
Thus my latest trend of 2012: Expansion of prison labor. Hear any concerns about how profitable jailing people is getting? Nope, I didn't think so. Sure is cheaper than hiring them, isn't it? Remind me again when slavery was abolished in this country. And it's a 'green' solution too-no fossil fuels for snowplows needed. Thankfully, snowfall will probably be put off for a while due to global warming, saving those prisoners' aching backs.

And, if that weren't enough, here's the latest salvo in the war on the underprivileged:
For legislation to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012, House Republicans are expected to push for a provision on unemployment insurance (UI) that is appalling even by current Washington standards. Neither President Obama nor Congress should accept any payroll-tax legislation that includes it. Here’s why:

The provision, part of a full-year payroll-tax bill that the House passed in December, would deny UI benefits to any worker who lacks a high school diploma or GED and is not enrolled in classes to get one or the other — regardless of how long the person worked or whether he or she has access to adult education, which itself has been subject to significant budget cuts in the past few years and is heavily oversubscribed.

The proposal would deny UI benefits to hundreds of thousands of workers — many of them middle-aged — who have worked hard, played by the rules, and effectively paid UI taxes for years and who then were laid off due to no fault of their own. ...

Older workers would be hit the hardest. Nearly half (47 percent) of UI recipients with less than a high school education or the equivalent are over age 45... In 2010, half a million workers age 50 or over who received UI lacked a high school diploma. By contrast, less than one-fifth of UI recipients without a high school diploma or the equivalent are under age 30.

For most of these individuals, who may have worked for 30 years or more, returning to high school makes little sense. And adult education, even when it might be useful because the workers are younger, very often isn’t available due in part to federal and state budget cuts.

Virtually every state had waiting lists in local adult education programs in 2009-2010, according to the most recent survey, and the number of people on waiting lists doubled just between 2008 and 2009-2010. Furthermore, the shortage of adult education slots has almost certainly grown significantly since 2009-2010 because of substantial budget cuts in adult education since then. ...

The proposal ... would allow people without a high school diploma or GED to receive benefits only if they enroll in classes for which there often would be no slots available — in part because of budget cuts approved by some of the same policymakers who now embrace this new requirement.
That's right, they're going to deny unemployment insurance to anyone without a high-school diploma. And they're also doing that at the same time as they slash budgets for adult education, high schools are closing and crumbling, and teachers are being demonized and laid off in droves. Hmmmm.

As people fall of the unemployment rolls, it's a win-win. The unemployment rate goes down, because such people are no longer counted (they are no longer officially citizens if they do not have jobs, I guess), and when they inevitably turn to crime or the black market to survive, they can be tossed in jail to provide free labor! From the elites point of view, it's sheer genius. Who says politicians can't solve problems?

Life in America in the 21st century. Ain't freedom grand?

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