The New Prison Industrial-Complex State Budgets and Technology in the Age of Declining State Revenue
by Paul C. Wright
hat tip: Global Research, May 5, 2010
There is a new technological trend in the United States that promises to use advances in Internet, GPS, and chemical detection technology to manage states’ surging prison and parolee populations. Several states, particularly those with massive budget deficits like California and Michigan, are unable to shoulder the burden of housing more inmates in their dangerously overcrowded prisons. They are therefore dramatically increasing the use of GPS technology to monitor the whereabouts and activities of parolees, as well as using the technology for home detention programs and even alcohol consumption monitoring. While it is true that GPS ankle bracelets have been in use for a few years now, new technology, laws, and applications are increasing the use of such devices in what is soon to be a booming industry – fully dependent upon the corrections system.
In Richmond, California, statistically identified as having America’s fourteenth highest crime rate  , the police recently fitted twenty parolees with GPS tracking devices on their ankles.  The devices include paging systems that require the parolee to call his or her parole agent each time they feel the device vibrate. Police officers say that they can use the devices to track parolees and place them at the scene of a crime committed while on parole. The tracking devices do, however, bring into question the status of a parolee’s civil liberties and may open the door to court challenges regarding invasion of privacy and other constitutionally guaranteed rights. The political will of several states are fully behind using the new technology and the courts thus far seem to like the flexibility they offer in sentencing and early release. The Richmond program is merely the tip of the iceberg.
by Tom Franklin
Despite encouraging words from politicians and the establishment media’s talking heads, it is clear to me, and I believe most Americans who do not live in a regime ivory tower, that we are not coming out of the recession. In fact, things appear to be getting worse as unemployment continues to rise and businesses cut salaries or shut down. The fears that this recession could turn into another Great Depression are very real, as we have lost so much of our capacity to create wealth and the federal government seems determined to use up any remaining capital fighting endless wars, funding endless entitlement programs, and spending trillions of dollars on non-wealth-creating “stimulus” programs while handing out even more trillions to their bankster buddies and corporate cronies. However, another 1930s-style depression is not what keeps me up at night with worry.
America could survive another Great Depression if it was like the last one. Sure, it would be extremely painful, but it would be manageable, as it was before, and eventually we would come out of it, despite the fact that the government would most certainly make all the wrong moves along the way. However, what really terrifies me is a hyperinflationary depression.
According to John Williams at ShadowStats.com, in an article titled Hyperinflation Special Report, hyperinflation is not only possible, but inevitable due to the overspending of the federal government, and the printing press of the Federal Reserve, which as Congressman Ron Paul continuously reminds us, prints money out of thin air. Williams’ report is a truly terrifying read that insists that the coming hyperinflation could get so bad that we will have to resort to the barter system as the dollar will become nothing more than very rough toilet paper. He cautions that electronic banking will cease to work and for a time no one will have any money at all, not even inflated currency. You can certainly imagine the type of Hell on earth this will create for the American people.
In America, the Fracturing results from the Economic System
by John Kozy
Global Research, April 1, 2010
Consider this paraphrased account of a famous nation’s demise:
The death of the nation was both violent and natural. The fatal agents were the organic disorders of the system. The government had proven incapable of solving problems: it failed to preserve domestic order or an effective defense; it discovered no way of reconciling local autonomy with national stability and power; and its love of liberty failed to interfere with its passion for empire and war. The class struggle had become bitter beyond control and had turned democracy into a contest in legislative looting. The legislature degenerated into a mob, rejecting all restraint, voting itself every favor, and crushing initiative, industry, and thrift.
Education spread, but thinly; it stressed knowledge more than character and produced masses of half-educated people. The old problem of ethics and morals found no solution in religion, statesmanship, or philosophy. Religious superstition spread even while science reached its apogee. The growth of knowledge secularized morals, marriage, parentage, and law, and the pursuit of pleasure prevailed. Public games degenerated into professional contests; the people, who had once been athletic, now became spectators, content to witness rather than to do. Sexual morality was relaxed, and human life was portrayed as a round of triviality, seduction, and adultery. . . . The nation had destroyed itself; it died of its own tyrannous anarchy.
What nation do these paragraphs describe? It could be the United States of America, but it is not. These paragraphs come almost word for word from Will Durant’s The Life of Greece where he describes the demise of Athenian democracy.
Madison, in The Federalist, No. 10, writes,
The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to [factions]. . . . Complaints are everywhere heard . . . that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and . . . rights. . . .
The latent causes of faction are . . . sown in the nature of man. . . . A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well . . . ; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. . . . But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. . . .
It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. . . .
The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS. . . .
By Anthony Gregory
hat tip: Campaign for Liberty
The following is based on a talk delivered at the Free State Project’s Liberty Forum in Nashua, New Hampshire, Saturday, March 20, 2010.
In the United States, civil liberties are seen as the province of the left. The ACLU, the Bar Association, the Democratic Party, people who err in favor of procedural protections for criminals and even terrorists — this is what tends to come to mind to conservatives who condemn civil liberties as a leftist interest, and to liberals who celebrate it as a great anchor of their political philosophy.
But what happens when the left-liberals are in charge of the executive branch, its police, its justice department, prosecutors and military courts? Predictably, conservatives fear the government will be soft on foreign and domestic villains. Liberals hold out hope that due process will be restored.
Libertarians, too, will often adopt this general lens through which to see political reality. Just as many progressive writers discussed the coming of Obama as a new dawn for the Bill of Rights — or, at least, the amendments they openly favor — many libertarians hoped that the Bush era of warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention, torture and police statism would recede with the electoral victory of the Democrats.
But here we see the problem. For if the left are the most institutionally important guardians of civil liberties, then the ascent to power of one of their own will often mean a quieting of dissent. Left-liberals become caught up with economic policy, become corrupted, or simply tire of finding more reasons for their own partisan figurehead to be criticized, and look the other way. Just as Republican administrations can often implement domestic interventions with a freer hand — look at Bush’s effortless Medicare expansion compared to how long it has taken for Obama to move on health care — Democrats can expect a less hostile climate in which to build up executive power to the detriment of civil liberty. And indeed, even if they have good intentions, they run against political pressure from the opposition accusing them of being soft with the police power. A left-liberal in office is the perfect storm for the destruction of our privacy and the rule of law. Just remember what Clinton did at Waco, or the erosion of liberty after the Oklahoma City Bombing, and the truth of this was confirmed long before January of last year when Obama took the throne.
And you thought you had to pay them? Ridiculous!
Senator Harry Reid says, “the government doesn’t force you to pay taxes.” Reid says that he “doesn’t accept the phraseology” that the government “forcefully takes money from you.” Really, I am not joking. Oh … and he says that the reason our system is called a “voluntary” tax system is because we have deductions/loopholes that allow us to keep some of our money.
Just for fun, count how many times Reid says “voluntary” and “phraseology.”
I’m not sure how dated this interview is, but bear in mind that this is a U.S. Senator spending 4+ minutes denying the notion of government force and coercion. This isn’t the first time I’ve covered this topic.
It’s happened again. Another well meaning soul insisting that EveryOne is to blame for the mess that engulfs the U.S. politically, militarily and economically because in our political system, the country gets what it votes for. Therefore, ‘we are all responsible.’
Some may get their kicks from an existential guilt trip, but please count me out.
First, we almost never get what we think we voted for. Just a few examples: Remember George W. saying he’d be a ‘uniter, not a divider’? Before the vote he also said yes to more social programs, lower taxes and a balanced budget. Franklin Roosevelt said he’d keep the U.S. out of foreign wars and Richard Nixon said he’d end the war in Viet Nam.
Before election day, voters are bombarded with ads, negative and positive, and promises, some vague, some not. Complicating the process is the media which prefers sound bites to substance. Voters negotiate the mine field and cast their ballots for the person who does the best job of convincing them that he or she will fulfill their fantasy.
Every few years we go to the polls and pin our hopes on a Rorschach ink blot shaped like a person.
Don’t blame me for this.