Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Follow up to the War on Drugs posting

Who's getting rich off the War on Drugs and the War on Crime? "Free Market" Thugs like these are cashing in off your tax dollars while showering your elected "representatives" with gifts, trips, campaign funds, and propaganda ammo from their corporate funded think-tanks.

Wackenhut was founded in 1954 by former FBI agent George Wackenhut. From the beginning the company engaged in dubious activities such as assisting the McCarthy Witchhunt. By 1965 the company could boast that it maintained files on 2. 5 million US citizens, participants in the Civil Rights and Anti Vietnam War Movements were targets. The assistance of far right causes was, however, not confined to the US Homeland. In 1977 the company obtained permission to operate in Belgium. Wackenhut’s first local director was Jean-Francis Calmete who hired members of the Westland New Post a fascist group. Wackenhut left Belgium in the early 1980’s following allegations that their guards were luring immigrant children into basements and beating them.”

Some more interesting reading:
Private Security Revelations On Group4 and Wackenhut
Abuse and Profiteering

Let’s face it, there's a hell of a lot of money to be made in "Crime," and not just by those who commit it, but by those entrusted with "fighting" it as well. It is in the financial interest of corporations like Wackenhut to have a frightened populace demanding that someone "save them" from the scourge of drugs, terrorism, crime, communism or whatever the Boogieman-of-the-Week happens to be.

When the government runs the Corrections Facilities, it is in their interest to keep prison populations as low as possible. However, with Privatization of the Prison System, “Industry experts state a 90-95% capacity rate is necessary to attract investors, ensuring a vested interest in a growing prison population for the future.” That’s what Greg Palast refers to as a Free Market in Human Misery.

You want to see any kind of real reform regarding the drug war or any other meaningful issues? Then we need to address campaign and lobbying reform FIRST. You need to take away the ability of corporations and well funded special interests to purchase our politicians outright. Clean up K-Street. When CEO's have no more access to our elected representatives than the average schmoe, only then you will see real representation and real change.

Until then, it really won't matter much if the bums you elect come with a D or an R after their names. They'll still be serving their real masters, who all have an Inc. after their names.

William Blake on wrote, "Prisons are built with stones of Law. Brothels with the bricks of religion."

What Blake fails to mention, perhaps because he didn't live in our modern, gilded age, is that both law and religion are the servants of the moneyed class. A man much smarter than me once said, "The function of law and theology are the same: to keep the poor from taking back by violence what the rich have stolen by cunning."

The idea that the owner class and the politician class are somehow at odds with each other is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind.


BlackLabelAxe said...

The Wackenhut people don't represent the "free" market.

That "free" market is full of insider gifting and law creation to PREVENT any freedom of the market.

Concerning the topic of private prison maintenance:

The free market will excel in the direction you point it in. If you pay the contractor for every innmate they feed, then they have incentive to increase the population. If you set an incentive in the direction that would benefit you then the market will innovate towards that beneficial goal.

Quick example:

An employer tells a salesman that for every $1 increase in sales, the salesman gets to keep 50% of it. This benefits employer and salesman alike, because both have incentive to prosper. Paying on salary alone gives incetive for nothing but to show up. The salesman can't make that $1 without the resources of the company, and the company can't make it without the skill of the salesman. This is a mutually beneficial relationship that is typical of a true free market.

I completely agree that the corruption is sickening. I'm not going to blame the free market, however, because the free market has been poisoned and terrorized by insider agreements, and doesn't even exist in this scenario. The protection from monopolies, and the protection of personal freedoms together are the only beneficial functions of government, and ours is laying down on the job.

Campaign finance reform is an excellent idea, but only educated voters are going to replace the corrupt with true representatives.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

I'm talking about reality, not a perfect, imagined scenario. Free market fundamentalism will always lead to corruption because it is simply another logical ends in the drive toward greater profits. The problem with Free Market Fundamentalism is that it ignores the human capacity to subvert one's own ethical standards in prusit of profits. And without a regulating agency to level the playing field, a totally free market will always favor those willing to engage in unethical practices. The kind of corporate malfeasance we have seen in the past two decades are a direct result of market liberalization. Moving even futher toward the goals of the free market fundamentalists will only succeed in two things. One: the greater consolidation of wealth and power into the hands of the few, and two: The kind of graft, corruption setting up poblic policy for the profits of the few that we witness in the example of the private corrections and enforcement industies.

BlackLabelAxe said...

I understand what you're saying, and I agree that once a certain level of market share is gained, the tendency is for free market people to stop believing in the free market and to start focusing on taking out the competition. That's terrorism, and it must be regulated.

Keeping these companies out of personal favor of politicians or law enforcement is a prerequisite for any kind of capitalism. We have laws to protect us against such terrorism, such as Patent laws which protect a monopoly of ideas, and trust laws which prevent monopolies of specific goods or services.

The problem is we're not enforcing any of them. We keep voting for the same idiots who are more interested in making thier friends tons of money through inside power trading and refusing to dismantle market-crippling monopolies such as the drug industry, the oil industry, and the diamond industry (to name just a few).

The alternative to enforcing an uncorrupt, free market is to let the government take charge. The same people who brought us FEMA, the 9/11 Commission Report, Social Security, Medicare, the IRS, blue laws, eminent domain, and tax-exemption for religeous groups is going to control the distribution of matters of economy?!

With elections so easy to fix, information so heavily biased in the media, and people caring less and less, how will we ever have accountability in government again? Our IRS makes Enron look like a well-oiled machine.

BlackLabelAxe said...

I think we agree that corruption is the problem, but we disagree because I think government is not the answer. Government is part of the problem.

I think a government should be powerless to do anything but protect personal freedoms, defend our borders, and dismantle those who wish to terrorize our markets.

BlackLabelAxe said...

...and I'm reading more of Greg Palast's writings on economic policy. Real-estate speculation isn't doing us much good as a society, but that's why Adam Smith postulated a tax system that incorporated taxing land for progressive scaling.

I'm not necessarily opposed to it, but it will hurt farmers with large amounts of cheap land, and that will drive up our food prices which will ultimately hurt the poorest, making the tax ultimately regressive from a standard of living perpsective.

I'm all up for finding a way to incorporate a tax system based on land or consumption, or some combination thereof. I just think the combination would turn into another IRS complexity that's waiting for lawyers and and lobbyists to fuck it up. This is why I'm currently SOLD on the consumption tax model.

Taxing income is doing nothing but making the middle class poorer and poorer, and our tax lawyers richer and our politicians more powerful.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

I'm not sure why you believe that taxing income has made the middle class poorer and poorer. History has shown that the time period of the greatest growth in the size and buying power of the middle class was also during the time of the greatest differences in the progressive tax income tax levels.

The middle class has shrunk and real inflation-adjusted income for the lower 80% has stagnated in the past 25 years since Reagan began rolling back progressive tax rates and offering more loop-holes to the super-wealthy.

I'm not opposed to moving to the consumption tax model, so long as safeguards are put into place to make sure that the poor don't get stuck paying a lot more tax for essentials like food, heat and shelter while the rich avoid taxes by paying for foreign goods on the black market.

But we're getting off on a tangent that has nothing to do with the original post. You're correct in saying that government is part of the problem here. But it appears that you "solution" is to decrease the oversight by government forces and allow some magical market forces to fill in the need. My position is that is just not realistic. Its like saying that because members of the police are being paid off by the criminals, we should just do away with police. What we need to do is clean up the system and make sure that the entities in charge of enforcing laws are not in the pockets of those they are supposed to be regulating.

Specifically, regarding the War on (fill in the blank), the problem is that industries which stand to gain financially are allowed to purchase influence with the politicians who we elect to represent the common good. By taking away company's ability to purchase policy, we will increase the influence exerted by the general populace. It can never be made perfect, but it has certainly gone far off into the wrong direction in the past quarter century.

Its time to bring a bit more balance between corporate power and public power. This country used to stand for the principle of "One person, one vote" but we have been moving more and more toward a system of One dollar, one vote."

BlackLabelAxe said...

I do believe in the "invisible hand".

You know, I'm agreeing so much with your last comment that it seems like "taking out the trash" is the same in any language. There's scumbags gaining advantage unfairly in business and in politics, and I think we're saying that we just need to clean the shit up, and we can have a meeting afterwards and decide where to go from there.

Concerning where to go from there:

Taxing income punishes people who earn wages, and we both know that these are the people that make EVERYTHING work. People earning passive income are rarely of any benefit to society, but they pay no taxes and some of them earn a shit-load of money. They do, however, consume retail goods.

The top income-earners set up tax shelters, or incorporate themselves to eliminate any risk (a la Trump), so even though they're supposed to pay on the progressive scale, they don't. The poor still pay the embedded, residual taxes that are the effects of payroll taxes.

The Fair Tax sets up a prebate system that pre-imburses everybody for the taxes that they would pay on subsistence spending. This truly eliminates the tax burden on the poor.

Check out the comparison: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Effectiverate.png

The Fair Tax also allows 10x the Federal agents to investigate fraud and black markets, since they won't be harassing individuals anymore.

BlackLabelAxe said...

Guess who else consumes retail goods? Illegal immigrants.

They can't be made to pay income tax, and they wouldn't be eligible for the Pre-bate under the Fair Tax.

Tourists would pay into our Social Security and Medicare under the Fair Tax.

Lefty Metalhead said...

What percentage of total consumption do illegal immigrants represent? Is it significant?

BlackLabelAxe said...


I'm not sure how much of the consumption illegal immigrants represent, but as of right now, very few pay anything besides state sales tax.

It's not that it's going to be a significant source of revenue, it's an economic incentive for legal immigration.

Immigration should make our nation stronger, and I am in favor of a very liberal immigration policy. The problem is that payroll taxes and income taxes are trying to raise revenue for a much larger population of people recieving benefits from our government.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

Great, but back to the topic at hand. What do we do about the undue influence that corporations and billionaires have over our government and legal system as it relates to scumbags like Wackenhut and other private prison systems to actively promote the jailing of more and more citizens just to pump up their bottom line?