American Slave Labor

This would make a great Jackie Gleason & Paul Newman movie. 1

The worst day of Brad McGahey’s life was the day a judge decided to spare him from prison.

McGahey was 23 with dreams of making it big in rodeo, maybe starring in his own reality TV show. With a 1.5 GPA, he’d barely graduated from high school. He had two kids and mounting child support debt. Then he got busted for buying a stolen horse trailer, fell behind on court fines and blew off his probation officer.

Standing in a tiny wood-paneled courtroom in rural Oklahoma in 2010, he faced one year in state prison. The judge had another plan.

“You need to learn a work ethic,” the judge told him. “I’m sending you to CAAIR.”

McGahey had heard of Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery. People called it “the Chicken Farm,” a rural retreat where defendants stayed for a year, got addiction treatment and learned to live more productive lives. Most were sent there by courts from across Oklahoma and neighboring states, part of the nationwide push to keep nonviolent offenders out of prison…

…There wasn’t much substance abuse treatment at CAAIR. It was mostly factory work for one of America’s top poultry companies. If McGahey got hurt or worked too slowly, his bosses threatened him with prison.

And he worked for free. CAAIR pocketed the pay.

“It was a slave camp,” McGahey said. “I can’t believe the court sent me there.”…

…But in the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

The programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.

The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.

Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than CAAIR. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions…

…Chicken processing plants are notoriously dangerous and understaffed. The hours are long, the pay is low and the conditions are brutal…

…Those who were hurt and could no longer work often were kicked out of CAAIR and sent to prison, court records show. Most men worked through the pain, fearing the same fate.

So, we’re back to the days of the company store? To suggest this practice is illegal 2 is like suggesting the Generalissimo is an incompetent buffoon; both suggestions are the epitome of understatement.

And fucking evil. But there’s certainly plenty of historical precedent for that in this country…

American Slave Labor

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Yeah yeah yeah, I know they’re dead. And, sadly, the closest we got to Gleason is Billy Gardell, who’s fine and all. But…you know, he lacks Gleason’s madness. And as for Newman, well, I got nothing. And then there’s Kennedy and Martin, both ‘types’ that don’t really exist today. Le sigh…
  2. Not to mention unconstitutional; forcing defendants to work for free might violate their constitutional rights. The 13th Amendment bans slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, except as punishment for convicts. The problem here is most of the defendants sent to programs such as CAAIR have not yet been convicted of crimes, and some later have their cases dismissed.

Oil Wars

It appears our Manchurian President-elect has already managed to initiate the trade war he all but promised while campaigning: Get set for a rising tide of oil and gas prices:

OPEC clinched a deal to curtail oil supply, confounding skeptics as the need to clear a record global crude glut — and prove the group’s credibility — brought about its first cuts in eight years.

OPEC will reduce production by 1.2 million barrels a day to 32.5 million a day, two delegates said Wednesday during a ministerial meeting in Vienna, asking not to be identified as the decision isn’t yet public. Benchmark Brent crude rose 8 percent to $50.07 a barrel in London at 1:37 p.m. local time.

After weeks of often tense negotiations, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ three biggest producers — Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran — resolved differences over sharing the burden of cuts. Notably, it appears the Saudis accepted that Iran, as a special case, can raise production to about 3.9 million barrels a day. The agreement is also likely to include an additional reduction of about 600,000 barrels a day by non-OPEC countries.

“This should be a wake-up call for skeptics who have argued the death of OPEC,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. “The group wants to push inventories down.”

The deal promises to revive the tattered finances of countries from Venezuela to Libya and restore flagging confidence in the producer bloc that controls 40 percent of the world’s oil. But the consequences will reverberate far beyond OPEC, giving a boost to U.S. shale drillers crippled by a two-year price rout and oil giants such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which have cut spending to the bone to weather the prolonged downturn.

Suddenly after eight years of stable (when not falling) oil/gas prices, OPEC looks at our Clown Prince, smirks and screws down production. This will immediately benefit countries like Iran, Venezuela, Libya and, yes, Russia. The Sauds, of course, will make billions. Anyone see a pattern?

In addition, as the Manchurian President-elect has reiterated time and again, he intends to boost drilling/fracking in the US by gutting the environment 1 rather than lower demand through alternative energy.

So how does all this benefit the US? Why, we get the satisfaction of accelerating global warming AND a an oil price war. 2 3

Wake up, people.

Oil Wars

Show 3 footnotes

  1. And now that the EPA administrators are playing down the water pollution issues of fracking that will be easier to do one the Manchurian President-elect takes office. If, indeed, the Clown Prince doesn’t kill that agency’s budget all together.
  2. We can hardly wait to see how the Manchurian Candidate-elect handles coal!
  3. Oops! And US shale producers will benefit, which of course means US insurance companies will also make money hand over fist due to all the new earthquake coverage policies they’ll write.

Chump Change

According to many many many what the fuck just happened analyses 1 of how we elected a hot mess of a president, chief among the identified culprits was The Left’s attitude toward The Deplorables.

Besides calling them The Deplorables 2 The Left said many many many mean things 3 about the slightly-less-than-half-the-voting-populace 4 that went GOP this year.

One of the accusations The Left apparently tossed out was that The Deplorable were too stupid to vote, that they consistently voted against their own self-interests. 5 This pissed off The Deplorables to such extent that once again they cut off their noses to spite the country’s face:

House Republicans are currently in the process of making lists of regulations that fall within their time frame and could potentially be repealed early next year. One of the major ones they’re eyeing is Obama’s overtime rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half to employees who make under roughly $47,000.

The rule is set to go into effect Dec. 1 6 and will be a top priority for Republicans to reverse, multiple sources said.

As an The Elite The Deplorables despise, I assure you this won’t affect me.

But y’all continue to enjoy the (minimal) fruits of your labor, hear?

Chump Change

Show 6 footnotes

  1. YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE analyses!
  2. Which, face it, they are.
  3. Nasty things!
  4. Well, to be exact, 2 million voters less than those that voted for Clinton.
  5. Not to mention that of society and the country’s, as a whole.
  6. Though yesterday’s ruling will effectively kill it; any appeal would certainly last longer than the Obama administration.

On Monopolies

Botanists define a rheophyte as an aquatic plant that thrives in swift-moving water. Coming from the Greek word rhéos, meaning a flow or stream, the term describes plants with wide roots and flexible stalks, well adapted to strong currents rather than a pond’s or pasture’s stillness. For most of the 20th century, U.S. lawmakers worked to maintain just these sorts of conditions for the U.S. economy—a dynamic system, briskly flowing, that forced firms to adapt to the unpredictable currents of the free market or be washed away.

In the past few decades, however, the economy has come to resemble something more like a stagnant pool. Entrepreneurship, as measured by the rate of new-business formation, has declined in each decade since the 1970s, and adults under 35 (aka Millennials) are on track to be the least entrepreneurial generation on record.

This decline in dynamism has coincided with the rise of extraordinarily large and profitable firms that look discomfortingly like the monopolies and oligopolies of the 19th century. American strip malls and yellow pages used to brim with new small businesses. But today, in a lot where several mom-and-pop shops might once have opened, Walmart spawns another superstore. In almost every sector of the economy—including manufacturing, construction, retail, and the entire service sector—the big companies are getting bigger. The share of all businesses that are new firms, meanwhile, has fallen by 50 percent since 1978. According to the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank dedicated to advancing the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, “markets are now more concentrated and less competitive than at any point since the Gilded Age.”

On Monopolies

Labor Day

I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer, necessarily, but perhaps you should peruse the following nine charts that explicitly explain wage stagnation. 1

So…did you read the charts the same way I did?

Because my reading shows we’ll revert back to feudalism, and not all that long from now, either. 2 Duuuuuude, serf’s up! Everyone good with that?

Labor Day

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Did you also break out into laughter at “The first policy choice should be to quickly restore full employment. The Federal Reserve Board can do this by not raising interest rates.”? Funny shit, man.
  2. RE Trump? There have been sociopathic douchebags for generations; they’ve just become even more nakedly in thrall to their ids of late. Don’t promulgate this; vote Hillary. Yes, I know, I don’t like her, either.