America has truly become the land of plenty. There are plenty
of Ponzi schemes, plenty of bank failures, and plenty of
foreclosures. This leaves us with plenty of debt, plenty of crime, plenty of
corruption, plenty of inflation, plenty of homelessness, plenty of poverty, and
plenty of unemployment.
hopes and dreams of many families are slowly ending up in the toilet of pending
economic collapse. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a “good
job” or a “good education” in the land of plenty because unemployment rates and
college tuition fees are steadily on the rise. Meanwhile, we pretend
that economic recovery is just around the corner and remain in plenty of denial
about the real levels of unemployment nationally.
Do you actually believe that
approximately 90% of Americans are employed? According to the United States
Bureau of Labor Statistics, the December 2010 US civilian unemployment rate was
9.4% and the expected US civilian unemployment rate for February of 2011 is
9.4%. Here in Oakland, the EDD (Employment Development Department) office
listed the December 2010 US civilian unemployment rate at 10%. Unfortunately,
these figures are neither true nor correct.
Rather than representing the
actual percentage of people unemployed, America’s unemployment statistics only
reveal (1) the percentage of people receiving unemployment benefits, and (2)
the percentage of citizens applying for benefits. All those who fall outside of
these two categories are not represented within the official unemployment
statistics because they are not considered unemployed. Out-of-work independent
contractors, entrepreneurs, seasonal & migrant farmers, and discouraged job
seekers are not counted as part of the nation’s unemployment statistics.
The largest groups of people
discounted by the nation’s unemployment statistics are those classified as
“discouraged” workers. Discouraged workers are willing-&-able
individuals, who for one reason or another have been unable to secure
employment in six months or more. After six months, these individuals are
removed from the unemployment statistics. Without this policy and practice of
under-reporting, the actual percentage of unemployed Americans could easily
double, if not triple, the nation’s “official” unemployment statistics
So the actual
unemployment rate is not revealed in order to shield the public from the harsh
realities and obvious failures of free enterprise. Outsourcing, illegal
sweat-shops, and illicit trafficking all contribute to high unemployment rates
in the states. Americans continue to lose jobs and the ability to sustain their
families here in the USA because a multitude of American companies and
corporations summarily export jobs overseas to Asia, Central & South America
or anywhere laborers can be exploited and underpaid. In the absence of unions
and child labor laws, American companies are free to exploit these workers for
very little pay. Consequently, corporate and private profits grow as rapidly as
unemployment and poverty rates increase.
Now add to this figure, jobs
“outsourced” to America’s Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). The PIC sustains a
rapidly growing pool of underpaid and exploited workers. Inmates constitute a
captive, controlled workforce ineligible for decent pay, scheduled pay raises,
workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, overtime pay, vacation time,
retirement pay/plans, etc. Additionally, there are no tariffs, fines, fees,
etc. associated with the products manufactured and repaired by exploited prison
laborers. The result, plenty of profits for plenty of companies.
As incarceration rates
increase, the number of jobs removed from the public and private sector are
able to increase as well. An incarcerated workforce can increase company profit
margins by decreasing or eliminating the numerous costs (decent wages, health
care, etc.) associated with actually employing the public. This insatiable
quest for greater profits and more money drives Microsoft, Compaq, Texas
Instruments, IBM, MCI, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, TWA, Unicor, the CCA
(Corrections Corporation of America), Chevron, Motorola, Honeywell, Boeing and
plenty of other companies to shortchange the nation’s workforce by utilizing
prison workers instead.
It’s no wonder America
continues to incarcerate more people than any other country on the face of the earth.
Free labor is free labor, weather enslaved on a plantation or incarcerated in a
prison. And profit is profit.
Meanwhile, the United States
Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to under-report actual unemployment rates,
corporations continue to contract prison laborers, and illicit economies
continue to diminish legitimate employment opportunities, as plenty of real
human beings, not statistics, continue to be unemployed.