Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Experiencing small towns: Deindustrialization, Militarization and Privatization

By guest writer, Maureen Cruise, RN

Know Justice: Know Peace

The destruction of Hostess Brands by corporate pirate "raid, strip & run"  strategy is just another resounding iceberg crash in the tragic meltdown of the glacial US economy.  Nationally the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes, 570 bakery outlet stores and the loss of 18,500 jobs will occur mostly in small economically fragile towns across the country.  Such closures plunge many small communities into depression era conditions while the rising tide of unemployed people struggle to stay in their homes and feed their families. Labor negotiations for livable wages, job security, pensions and health care are failing to trump corporate profiteering.

For some big picture reality:  19 Facts About The De-industrialization Of America That Will Make You Weep To this information should be added the 2008 Harvard Business School study that 42% of US jobs are vulnerable to being sent overseas.  The new generation of outsourcing not only "brawn but brains" is white collar professional jobs such as engineering, radiology, law, finance, IT management, research & development, clinical trials, book editing, even travel vacation/surgery.  "The Globalization of White Collar Work:  Facts and Fallout of Next generation Outsourcing." 2006.    

For a smaller picture, first hand recent observation of the deadly effects of corporate profit driven closures, merging with increased outsourcing of government agencies to corporate entities and in combination with the tax flow to the rise of a heavily policed and militarized state, read on.

I have just returned from Columbus GA, a small financially fragile city with an enormous military base where our tax dollars train foreign military and police forces in repressive and violent techniques including torture, kidnapping, mass evacuations of villages and assassination.  This base, Fort Benning, also features a new DRONE  research, testing and launch center.  In addition, we visited the largest Corrections Corporations of America for profit immigrant prison...Stewart Federal Detention center in near by Lumpkin, economically depressed community.

The intersection of three elements in this economically compromised area of Georgia provide a stark view of our rapidly deteriorating country. Depressed economies (business closures, job losses, social service strain) with increased tax dollar expenditures for enhanced local police departments, militarized response to community security, undercover operations and surveillance of ordinary law abiding citizens coupled with the most egregious federal tax dollar expenditures for wildly profitable private prisons.

Columbus GA:  400 workers just lost their jobs at Dolly Madison/Hostess bakery.
And Columbus recently increased it's police force by 100 officers "housed in a newly constructed 125,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility.  The Columbus Police Department is not only among the largest departments in Georgia, supporting 488 sworn officers and 98 civilian employees, but it is also one of the most modern in the region, fully capable of responding to bomb and terrorist threats. We are renowned across the nation for being progressive in our thinking and creative with our tactics, and our officers endeavor to uphold the highest level of professional and ethical law enforcement." Police dept. website.

In the 20010 census the per capita income for the city was $22,514. About 12.8% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line. Columbus has a total population of 189,885, 72,124 households, and 47,686 families residing in the city.  The largest employer is Fort Benning Military Base with 41,000 employees followed by the school district 6,000 and then financial, insurance and healthcare services representing about 20,000 jobs combined.

In Columbus, we few thousand people at the SOAW fully permitted, legal, constitutionally protected conference, rally and vigil were met with hundreds of state and local police, dozens of motor vehicles, roaming dog teams, helicopters, military police, surveillance stations and undercover agents, and most likely homeland security infiltrators. (Several of the infiltrating agents were identified at the conference and rally but the agency remains in question..some of the same agents greeted us across state lines in Alabama at a picket line for Farm Worker Justice. This leads me to assume they are probably feds of some sort.)

All this wasted tax money for heavy handed, armed policing and surveillance  of a fully permitted conference, rally & vigil of peace groups with a 23 year peaceful history in Columbus!!  While the numbers of unemployed rise.

In Lumpkin, GA ( Stewart County):  Visitors arrive to see a family member held at the Stewart Detention Center… (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles…)

Stewart Detention Center outside Lumpkin is the largest immigrant detention facility in the U.S. holding 1,752 inmates...many held without due process or convictions.   "Because they're paid per detainee, per day by whichever government entity they've contracted with, CCA and other private prison firms need a steady stream of inmates in order to remain profitable. They rely on lawmakers to ensure that demand for their product — prison bed space — remains high. A growing segment of the population believes illegal immigrants are to blame for much of what ails the state, from low employment to high crime." Correction Corporations of America uses some of their profits (tax payer money) to lobby legislators across the country to sponsor anti immigrant and harsh sentencing laws in order to keep their prison census at capacity.  Money is also spent producing the anti immigrant propaganda that softens the electorate to supporting that legislation (In California Governor Brown vetoed the 2012 Bill which would have ended "Secure Communities"  funneling of law abiding undocumented immigrants into the for profit prison system.   Also "Private Prison Finds Gold in California")

Who is paying for this? Taxpayers, of course, with detention budgets for ICE at $1.77 Billion last fiscal year, to detain approximately 33,442 people in jails nationwide. Many of whom are held for very minor immigration and traffic charges.  Corrections Corp. of America is a $1.6 billion and their business is booming. Federal taxpayers pay Stewart County $60.50 per inmate held at that jail per day through an agreement with ICE. That works out to $97,647 per day, based on the last fiscal year's average daily inmate count. Lumpkin county, however, keeps only 85 cents per inmate per day for its administrative costs and pays CCA the rest, or $59.65 per inmate per day. Since 2007, the county has collected about $1.7 million through this arrangement, county officials said. That represents more than half of the county's $3 million annual operating budget.

  • Detainees have died at Stewart Detention Center (SDC)
  • Families are still denied contact visits at SDC.
  • On multiple occasions water service has been interrupted at SDC.
  • Inmates have been denied meals.
  • At least one American has been detained at and deported from SDC.
  • Immigrants are still held in solitary confinement at SDC. Often guards make those determinations.
  • Inmates who assist other inmates with language translation are labeled "gang leaders" and moved.
  • Medical care is inadequate, Inmates are denied and delayed treatment. No MD on premises.
  • Inmates perform many of the jobs at the facility, cooking cleaning, laundry for a few dollars a day.
  • Corrections Corporation of America makes millions in profit at SDC.
Stewart County remains Georgia’s poorest county.  The per capita income for the city was $16,146. About 24.2% of families and 26.7% of the population were below the poverty line . The median income for a household in the city was $22,315, and the median income for a family was $27,321.  As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 1,369 people, 552 households, and 367 families residing in the city.

Legislators guarantee that federal tax dollars disappear into corporate coffers while tax subsidized corporations buy and crash domestic industries and outsource professional jobs.  The banks and credit entities write laws and lobby congress to ensure mounting debt for education, cheat people out of their homes, bankrupt the sick, disabled, poor and vulnerable.  These institutions cross our borders, they steal our jobs, they break the laws.....And the government response is to use our tax dollars for policing, private prisons, armaments and surveillance of "we the people".

Be well!
Maureen Cruise

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