January 2020 Your Opinion Matters

The Thriving System of Convict Labor

"prison comfort." If Pro Com, the company that runs the prison work, says it pays $7.25 an hour for prison labor, but inmates can't earn more than $27 a month, who wants to bet that these prisoners are working just four hours to reach their maximum monthly pay? Or is Oklahoma paying them a dollar or so an hour, and profiting from their work by keeping the rest of the money?

In this twenty-first century, we are mired in a 19th century predatory convict

labor system.

aren't only making phone calls for Bloomberg's campaign. are


As 2019 ticked to a close, the screamingly outrageous headlines have not slowed. Every day there is something, whether it is a flurry of presidential tweets or yet another Republican

something or other.

spouting off about Who would

have thought, though, that amid the Christmas holiday we would learn that

billionaire candidate Or, Michael

Bloomberg is using convicted prisoners to make calls for his campaign?

He will say he did not know. that

"anybody" might made a similar mistake. have After all,

subcontracting is the name of the predatory capitalist game. That's how a convict labor exploiter can bid to pay $7.25 an hour for a job that might pay $11 or $12 an hour on the open market. However, the prisoners will see nothing like $7.25 an hour. Try paying these folks just a dollar an hour or so.

The subcontractor, who pays

the incarcerated just a dollar for a fair wage, would have to pay ten times that in the regular job sector.


who was not exploiting convict labor couldn't compete with the low pay prisoners are earning.

prison labor companies are

Those who own stock in these getting

their profits, too. The companies who subcontract

with prisons are

making three or four times what they might earn if they used general labor. The use of convict labor is one of the cruelest illustrations of the evils of predatory capitalism. capitalists

Predatory extract

by tilting the rules of the game to favor capital instead of labor.

surplus resources People

who are working full time are getting pennies to the dollar in the name of "crime and punishment."

So, here's the Bloomberg story.

The three-term mayor of New York contracted with a firm to make phone calls for his fledgling campaign. The women, incarcerated at a facility in Oklahoma, are obliged to say they are calling for the Bloomberg campaign. They don't have to disclose that they are incarcerated.

Anyone receiving

a call is given the impression that they are being called by a campaign volunteer, not an exploited worker.

Oklahoma limits the amount of money an inmate can make to $27 a month. This money may go for things like phone calls, snacks, or other

Inmates They

also making furniture for state

office buildings, processing motor vehicle requests, and being used as low-cost substitutes for workers who might be fairly paid. The worst of it is that the work inmates are doing does not guarantee them a job post-incarceration.

Instead, their

"experience" opens no doors for any future opportunities.

known better

Mike Bloomberg should have than

to subcontract

with an exploitative company, but he is probably not the only one doing it. Subcontracting is the norm these days, but few ask who is doing the subcontracting.

Top label designers

have low-paid women stitching their garments.

Call centers can contract

with low paid workers in their communities, or they can save 70 percent by contracting with convict labor.

This practice is not only a

wake-up call for Mayor Bloomberg, it is also a wake-up call for anyone who is playing in the subcontracting space.

Lots of people like to play

"woke" and economically progressive. But if your "woke" and cost-cutting ways sideline the people who work for you, then you aren't actually “woke”, you are just a predatory capitalist, placing profits over people. Economic justice and profit maximization may be incompatible.

Bloomberg said he and his campaign did

contracted with the convict Good for him,

After he was outed, Mayor not know that Pro Com, had


providers, and he moved to sever the relationship quickly.

but Bloomberg is smart enough to ask questions before contracting - not a great move for a candidate who seems to have more money than sense.

African Americans are nearly half of those incarcerated in this country, despite being just about 13 percent of the population. This incarceration is a throwback to enslavement when Black folks got major penalties for minor offenses.

The convict labor system,

especially, oppresses Black people, and the Bloomberg case makes it all too apparent.

Convict labor is exploitation

and an abomination. It makes black bodies a profit center for capitalistic exploitation.

Companies like Pro

Com must be held accountable, but so should the many others who thrive on contract labor. It is time to put an end to this exploitation.

Instead of throwing

billions into his long-shot campaign, why can't Michael Bloomberg spend a billion or two stopping convict labor?

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi U.S. House of

Representatives voted in December in favor of impeaching the 45th U.S. President but did not send the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for a hearing that could have removed the president. Just like when a toddler is left unattended, Trump made a mess over the holidays, committing what is being called two “acts of war” against the two sovereign nations of Iran and Iraq. He authorized a drone strike that assassinated

a top Iranian We have not heard general,

while the general was in Iraq. Trump did not consult Congress prior to the strike.


close to a strategy from the Trump administration, Congress or anyone else for that matter. MSNBC did offer video footage of Trump stating, while President Obama was in office, that President Obama would probably start a conflict with Iran in order to get re-elected. Luckily, we have a plan to offer.

Nancy Pelosi must call for the House of Representatives to add another article to the impeachment for Trump’s recent actions in Iraq. He declared war on Iran and Iraq without congressional approval; therefore, Republicans in the Senate must vote to remove him from office.

There is a stipulation where the President can take an action against a country without congressional approval but the President has to show that the action taken made Americans safer.

Killing the beloved Iranian

general will make Americans less safe. Iran has the capacity to retaliate in ways that POTUS could not imagine in his widest dreams.

The repercussions of Trumps

actions can, perhaps, be softened if Congress acts soon. The Iranian and Iraqi people, and quite frankly the rest of the world, need to see that the American people did not condone and are not in support of the actions approved by the President. The blood of any retaliation will fall squarely on the shoulders of those who refuse to impeach a president who is obviously in over his head.

If the impeachment had not been

“slow walked” for the last three years, the U.S. would not be in the precarious position of facing retaliation from

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell


two countries in the Middle East. All of the hard work and diplomacy of past administrations has been undone because of this Congress’ failure to act. All of the American lives that were lost fighting for stability in the region, could be for naught.


We can no longer put American in

jeopardy immature because of whims of one man.

the If

Congress continues to “do nothing” about his disregard for the laws of this land, the American people just may take matters into their own hands.

Some people like to remind us

the 63 million Americans voted for Trump. Of the 63 million people who did vote for Trump in 2016, more than likely, about 60 million of them are experiencing buyer’s remorse and are now wishing they had not.

In 2016, there were approximately

157 million registered voters according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Therefore, 94 million registered voters did not vote for Trump. If we count those that were of voting age but were not registered, we can double that number. Also, the total population of the U.S. is currently estimated at 327 million.

The small number of people who

support Trump pales in comparison to the number of people who want him impeached; yet, he remains in office because of elitists in Congress. The reason there is an electoral college is to ensure the will of the elite is enforced during the election process. No one wants to vote in an election where the deck is already stacked?

Just because Trump supporters

may be the loudest, it does not equate to them being a majority. The will of the majority will eventually prevail — perhaps they are just currently in shock and amazed that this President has been able to get away with the high crimes and misdemeanors that he has committed thus far.

Americans have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; it is difficult to be happy when your life is at risk because of someone else’s ego. Any so-called lawmaker, who is not willing to end this lawlessness, is himself an anarchist, a traitor and an enabler. Stop allowing Trump to trample on the U.S. the Constitution. Congress, act now!

The Hampton Roads Messenger 5

Are There Only Traitors, Anarchists & Enablers in Congress?

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