Saturday, April 2, 2011

the new enslavement

Hal Pepinsky,,
April 2, 2011
Privatization in my country began in earnest with the 1865 war-victor 13th anti-slave amendment to the US. As Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow and with lead spokesperson Angela Davis have noted: The prison-industrial complex that now for instance supplies Victoria Secret is founded in the convict lease system that was set up in the US south after the civil war to maintain the plantations against carpet baggers from the US north who wanted to profit from capture of labor in the wake of the US civil war.
Now we are engaged in a great global war testing whether workers can maintain hard-won protections against publicly unaccountable absentee private employers interested only in making profits can reduce public employees to desperate competition for jobs whom private corporate investors choose to favor with employment in a global crap shoot.
A legacy of WWII In my country was reinforcement of the conviction that a winner of a major war had the formulation for prolonging life itself. JFK’s secty of defense Robert McNamara came to Washington as a “whiz kid” president of Ford, who instituted scientific analysis of “operations” to indicate that we could escalate “boots on the ground” to 500,000 by the time he left the cause of pursuing “light at the end of the tunnel” in Vietnam in 1969. Robert McNamara made “operations research” the core of his national security science, which by the time I hit grad school in the late sixties, had become the heart of the social “science” that dominates academic discourse to this day.
Today unemployment data came out. Unemployment is down. It’s a cross section slice of human life. It’s like taking your blood pressure in a doctor’s office: a cross section of anyone’s life doesn’t speak to the trend and opportunities for gaining control of the situation. This leaves aside consideration of where trends in “employment” are taking us.
In his Wealth of Nations in 1776, Adam Smith warned that the greatest threat to the “invisible hand” of free economies was chartering private for-profit corporations for limiting the liability of absentee owners to what money they chose to put into and take out of workplaces at private whim. The current assault on public employees’ rights is the current version of substituting convict labor for slavery. Now as in cities and states in the US public workers are laid off and forced into competition for private jobs like prison guards where their employers have no duty even to let the public know about what was previously public business like how prisoners are cared for, I see a renewed assault on workers. It’s ironic. In my home state of Ohio, governor Kasich came into office promising to create jobs. In fact, he is paving the way to laying off public employees to enslavement in an uncontrolled private job market. Whew! I’m just lucky I survived as a public employee with rights before this wholesale of public jobs to foreign control took control or my own job. Love and peace--hal

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