Monday, October 24, 2005

Prison and the economy

Here's something I heard on Democracy Now! that I wanted to share:

U.S. Prison Population 2.3 Million, Largest in World
And new Justice Department statistics show the U.S. prison population grew by nearly 2 percent last year to nearly 2.3 million. According to the International Center for Prison Studies in London, there are more people behind bars in the United States than in any other country. Federal prisons in this country are now at 40 percent over capacity.

As C.I. always says, we've got a Bully Boy economy. I guess it's no surprise that while everyone else is laying off, the prison system is booming. I have three grocery stores in my area. Two real close and the other's about two miles away. Everyone needs to eat, right? So that should be a pretty good business, pretty safe.

All three are big chains, national stores. Last week, one of them announced it was shutting down at the end of this week. Even though they do business, they're not doing enough now that the energy prices are going up. The other one close by is turning off lights two hours before they close. Not all the lights, just enough that it's semi-dark in there if you go shopping late. First time that happened, I thought they'd changed their hours and were about to close.

I was hurrying around and I bumped into a stocker who told me I still had plenty of time but because of the cost of electricity, the store wasn't using all the lights the last two hours. So the lights in the frozen food cases go off, some of the lights in the produce go off, it's like the store's about to close.

But we're supposed to be pretending that the economy is going great. It's not going great. You can see that all around you. Take the grocery store. Tomatoes keep rising, milk's gone up, coffee's gone up. So when I read or hear someone saying, "The economy is doing good" I know right away that he or she doesn't shop for their own groceries.

Here's the scary part, this is fall. When winter gets here and you factor in heating costs, things are just going to get worse.

In 2008, we'll have had eight years under the Bully Boy (barring an impeachment) and so far, it's like we've lived six of them in denial. We're in denial about the war, we're in denial about the outing of Valerie Plame (Bob Somerby's really in denial), we're in denial about the economy.

Some people are cleaning up, no question. But that's not most people. If you're Halliburton or you own a prison, you're probably doing great. If you're a working stiff trying to make ends meet, things ain't so hot.

Here's a section of the news review from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. And to clarify, Brian Conley is an un-embed reporter with Boston Indymedia who is now reporting on Iraq from Iraq at Alive in Baghdad. As bird flu continues to be in the news, we turn to Rebeca, of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, to help us track the latest developments.
Rebecca: C.I. Britain's The Independent reports that "Armed police are to guard stocks of drugs used to fight bird flu." Geoffrey Lean and Francis Elliott report on this as England experiences its first case of bird flu. The bird, a parrot imported from Suriname, has resulted in a call by the British government for the end of importing wild birds to Europe. The Suriname government denies that the parrot contracted bird flu while in Suriname.
C.I.: Rebecca, if you or I wanted to visit England and we had a dog, our pet would be held in quarantine. Was that the case with the parrot?
Rebecca: Yes, in fact the parrot died in quarantine. The parrot arrived in England September 16th and had been held in quarantine until its death along with other birds from Taiwan. Australia is proposing thermal screenings of airline passengers and any flight suspected of carrying someone with bird flu would be quarantined for up to six days. The government of China has announced that the discovery of any case of human-to-human transfer of bird, or avian, flu will resort in the closing of its borders. Sweden has reported their first case of bird flu, a duck who died Friday. In Ha Noi, six million vaccines that will be used on birds to prevent the bird flu arrived from China. Delaware Online, The News Journal, reports that the migratory patterns of birds lead scientists to belive that North American birds will mingle with birds from Asia and transmit bird flu.
C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca. We'll note that on Wednesday, Democracy Now! devoted the hour to a discussion with Mike Davis on the topic of the bird flu. Davis noted, among other things, that flu is endemic with birds but that bird flu, unlike others they carry, is actually killing the birds. With news of Iraq, we now go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.
Cedric: Well the trial for Saddam Hussein began last week following the successful turnout for the referendum on the Iraq Constitution.
C.I.: But Cedric, the trial's now postponed until November, a lawyer's been killed and the referendum results are being closely examined due to questions of fraud as a result of some areas reporting that over 90% of the population voted?
Cedric: C.I., that is true, but don't say it too loudly. The Associated Press' Mariam Fam is pimping both events as milestones. Friday, in The New York Times, I-Saw-It-All-In-Falluja-But-Kept-My-Mouth-Shut Dexter Filkins wasted 22 paragraphs analyzing the election returnsthat are not yet verified.
C.I.: We should note the headline to that "award winning" reporting by Filkins which was, "Iraq's Sunnis Voted In Large Numbers This Time, Officials Say." "Officials say" being key to the headline, to the report and to all that's wrong with The Times.
Cedric: C.I., the press is having a tough time pimping the latest Operation Happy Talk phase. Fam and Filkins obviously want to let loose with the rah-rah reporting but the trouble this time is that serious questions exist and the days when Filkins could turn a slaughter into a video game and actually win a report for it appear to have passed. But still they press on, those brave embeds, thankful that Judith Miller exists to take the heat off all of them.
C.I.: Cedric, thank you for that perspective piece. With more news on Iraq, we now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! All week long, they pair up to select information from Democracy Now! to spotlight at their respective sites. Readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review prefer them paired up for the news review. We started with Elaine last week, so let's start with Mike.

I included Rebecca's part because of the bird flu and with the topic of this post being the economy, I think that's needed. If we have an outbreak of bird flu, we'll see that it effects one group of people one way, and another group another. Why? Money. If you've got it to blow, you'll probably be sitting pretty. If you're struggling to make ends meet, you'll be out in the cold with the flu.