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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 16, 2012 11:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Latest from City Hall: "Don't worry about protein". The next post in this blog is Have a great weekend. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

License plates are so 1980

Guess who's building solar panels here in Oregon.

Federal prisoners.

Apparently Uncle Sam is set on both subsidizing and competing with alternate energy equipment manufacturers. Mind-boggling.

Comments (18)

Well that's one way to compete with China. And they don't even have to put nets around the building to catch suicidal workers.

Seriously though, one doesn't have to put on a tin foil hat to see yet another reason why so many in this country perpetuate the war on drugs... lots and lots of very cheap labor.

Low Pot Head productivity and rustic work quality will kill the venture.

Uncle Sam has entered the private housing market with subsidies for "affordable housing" through HUD funding that includes those earning over the median area income. As eligibility criteria rises, there is a growing threat to private suppliers of housing - landlords who have businesses providing housing for profit. The government is picking winners and losers in the economy and skewing the market value of everything. Someday, your only choice for housing will be condo or apartment bunkers -- if that is what Uncle Sam wants for you. Choice? On paper maybe.

In thinking more about this one wonders, who exactly is profiting from these ventures?
We can all assume that having prisoners manufacture anything really doesn't cost less or save any money for the entity actually purchasing the items. These large contracts would require major tooling up to produce large quantities of the items required, for say military uniforms. The prisoners would require outside training.
So who exactly is making the money off these deals?
I am all for prisoners working. It may even help them rehabilitate, but it doesn't seem equitable to take employment from law abiding citizens in need of jobs. Ad I don't see anyplace where the cost to the taxpayer is reduced by using prison labor.
Sounds like a scam to me.

There was an article recently about the for profit prison industry offering cash strapped state and county governments money for land purchases... to build privately run prisons. In return, the state and counties would have to guarantee a 90% occupancy rate.

Is this is how manufacturing jobs will return to America, with prison labor filling the positions? Will this be the only way we can compete with China and India's much lower compensation levels. Kinda looks that way, huh....

On the other hand, why shouldn't the government exploit the hell out of convicted felons during their terms to recover some of the public costs for law enforcement, the judicial system, prison system, etc.? Assuming it does.

Government builds solar panels, Randy-gov builds toilets, Sam-gov builds garbage bio-mass energy plants and a bike rental company, Fish-gov builds housing, and.........

What's left for free enterprise?

Robert:...the state and counties would have to guarantee a 90% occupancy rate.

Scary, thinking about the implications of this.
I did a little research and found this link and information about Oregon.
Just a few excerpts:

http://brokenchains.us/TPLU/commentary/prison-labor.html

The purpose of the correctional system in America should be to reduce crime, increase safety, and reform individuals. However, prisons can only make a continuous profit if more people are incarcerated, even if crime rates drop. Privatization, with its necessary drive towards profit, therefore transforms the function of the correctional system in drastic ways, and begins to answer to its investors rather than to the needs of society at large.

Prison labor is indeed most alarming in the states that require all of the inmates to work more than forty hours a week: Texas, Oregon, and Missouri. In these places, prison labor carries with it the additional problem of human rights abuses.

Questions of quality, profitability, and security hit virtually every inmate work program in some way, and even when prison labor is not for private corporations, it falls prey to a set of problems regarding free labor. Oregon is one of the states with a law requiring all prisoners to work more than 40 hours a week. Because of this state initiative, which was approved by voters in 1994, a variety of unique practices occur. Prison Blues, a company that manufactures blue jeans, employs prisoners to make its goods, and self-consciously markets them as "made in prison." And Prison Blues is the only blue-jeans manufacturer left in the Pacific Northwest-the others have moved their production to cheaper labor markets overseas. Convicts also perform thousands of public-sector jobs (for example, answering phones at the Oregon DMV), which, despite regulations preventing the displacement of jobs from free workers, resonates as potentially dubious in the minds of the labor movement. Critics ask whether those public-sector, white-collar jobs should be given to free workers in the community. Perhaps the strangest thing in Oregon, however, is that private companies can "lease" prisoners from the state for $3 a day. In this way, prisoners here have become the ultimate flexible, inexpensive work force.

I don't know the date/status of this lease situation, whether it still exists or has changed.
It does make one wonder about the unemployment in our state.

clinamen,

Here's the original article noting the 90% occupancy comment. "In exchange, the company is asking for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Huffington Post." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/private-prisons-buying-state-prisons_n_1272143.html

We could see the building of prison manufacturing facilities become a norm that perpetuates a need to arrest more and more people.

When they've exhausted the traditional criminal element, do they then begin arresting people for being homeless, poor, jaywalking, littering, curfew violations, multiple parking tickets, being too outspoken (Jack?), not keeping your lawn moved regularly?...Where would it stop. The reasons to arrest more and more people could become endless as more and more prisons are built as manufacturing facilities and the need for prison labor to fill them grows.

When you've got a system that is incentivized to arrest more and more people and that action increases profitability in these new for profit prison manufacturing businesses, why wouldn't we see that kind of abuse in just who is considered an acceptable target for arrest. Wasn't China known for their prison labor camps? It's not like its a new phenomenon.

This is not good and people should be paying more attention to this very peculiar business model. The masses don't think very far out and see that this could ultimately affect their personal freedoms.

And let's not forget who is running these for profit prisons ! In some cases the hotel industry! Lots of lobbying opportunities there! K street has been busy making sure the gulag runs for profit.
Very scary stuff IMO.

The masses don't think very far out and see that this could ultimately affect their personal freedoms.

Agree.
I think that people are taking their freedoms for granted.

As shown by the renewal of the Patriot Act with more controls, with not a whimper from much of anyone. Take off your shoes and submit to an invasive pat down at the airports, "for your security".
For those of us who object we are told that we are "unpatriotic".
Oh well, keep those sports teams, fashion faux pas, and celebrity news on the front pages...twitter away...

Portland Native,
Sad scene.

Some I talk to about the airport "security" say they are glad to have it so they can travel safely. Others just shrug and say that is the way it is in order to travel.

I am now trying to figure out a way to get from point A to B this summer without flying. I do not want to drive a long distance alone, may have to. It is difficult to plan in any event, as we do not know what will happen to oil prices. Amtrak connections are not easy in this case.

The highlighted caption on this story is "Federal prisoners." On a different but similar note, in my hometown in N. Illinois, they used to be a manufacturing center with factories everywhere. Not anymore. There's just a handful left.

As it was pointed out to me recently, the biggest bldg when I was growing up was the electric company bldg which kind of went along the theme that if you want to know what the most powerful business in town was, look at who owns the biggest bldg.

Well, the biggest bldg in my hometown is now a new federal courthouse. Why my hometown needed a federal courthouse, I don't know. But considering the theme of this blog entry, it has to make you wonder what are they planning for?

What is the population of your hometown?

Its about 150,000...

From the Huffington post link above:

A spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, Steve Owen, said the company's contracts with any government agency are completely transparent. He pointed out that in many states, including Ohio, governments require demonstrated cost savings of 5 percent or more to enter into a contract with a private operator.

"There has to be a cost savings, and they have to monitor that over time, so I think that speaks for itself," Owen said. "At the end of the day, if we can't provide the scope of services and the quality of services and do it at whatever the cost savings that are required, they're not going to continue to do business with us."

What does that mean not continue to do business when they ask for a 20 yr. contract?
From what I have heard is that privatization (this is in another area) does fairly well for the first five years, the pattern, and then negative changes come.

As far as transparency, transparency for whom and at what cost?
Right now, the public has to pay in some cases a lot of money to even get documents.

Portland Native:For those of us who object we are told that we are "unpatriotic".

As we have been discussing on here today about the privatization of prisons, and people not being engaged or care about it -
I think a similar reaction from people would be that for those of us who object, we would be told that what we are too extreme in our thoughts about this, that it would never happen.

Just what do people think "a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full" means?


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