Saturday, February 21, 2015

Time to Wake Up! Riot at Texas Prison Story is a great Example.

The recent riot at a Texas detention facility highlights many complicated and important problems.
First, the fact that the facility mainly housed illegal immigrants, as reported by Reuters on February 21, 2015 suggests that these people were tried and convicted of being on U.S. soil without authorization. If that is the case, it brings forth something that I have personally observed during the past 14 years of people recently deported to Mexico. I spoke with hundreds of the deportees and the majority told me that they intended to return to the United States as soon as possible. However, those that said they would not try to return to the United States, them said that they were imprisoned for being in the U.S. illegally and could hardly believe that they were put into a state jail for only being in the U.S. illegally. In other words, time in prison before deportation deters future attempts to re-enter the country. While this is only my personal observation, it suggest that our government should at least examine this possibility and if empirical data supports my suspicion, we have a real tool that deters illegal immigration. (This is only one possible tool. There are many others, including addressing the root causes of illegal immigration – which probably holds the most promise).

Second, the super-rich, giant corporations and politicians all benefit every time a story ignites anger about illegal immigration.[1] The Reuters story stated that the Management and Training Corporation (MTC) ran this prison facility.
Now let us look at what Reuters did not include in the story:

·         MTC has been the subject of controversies that included rape, nonpayment of salaries and other significant issues.

·         MTC is allied with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is described by is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish lists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills.
 Most citizens have not even heard about ALEC and most believe that congress actually writes each bill that is considered for passage. In fact, ALEC hands politicians their ‘model bill’ and our representatives add their signatures. Why does all of this chicanery that feeds billions of our tax dollars into private hands? As Business Insider and others have pointed out, six corporations own 90% of the media[2]. The media pushes what I call ‘trigger word’ stories. These are stories that feed our personal biases and hatreds so we come to believe that a minority group, the conservatives, the liberals, a particular political party, the unions, etc. are the causes of our high taxes, overcrowded and underperforming schools, etc. While there is usually some truth in these beliefs, the real culprit are many of the super-rich, many of our corporations and many large banks and Wall Street manipulators.

Another reason the campaign to refocus our concern so we do not attack the true culprits of our nation’s greatest problems is that many of us feel so frustrated that we cannot do anything about the corruption (i.e. bank and corporate bail outs, Wall Street, big money controlling election outcomes). Although we may not know how to fight back, the first step is to at least recognize who and what we need to fight. If a ship is sinking, rearranging the deck chairs should not be our focus. We need to find out why and what can be done to save our own lives!

We cannot trust one news source. GOOGLE (although a giant Internet Corporation) provides very fast ways to explore stories. By entering a few words into GOOGLE it is easy and quick to examine other opinions. A simple ‘trick’ is to enter a name of a corporation, union or person and add the word ‘complaints’ to get a clearer picture. Don’t trust any single source and avoid trying to find a source that only confirms our original bias. Also, put numbers into context. This is especially true when trying to decide what changes in our budget would have a real effect. While saving a million of so by addressing welfare cheats is laudable, if every cheat was eliminated the impact on our budget would be negligible. Also remember that the biggest thieves in government and industry love to see blind patriotism.


[1] For that matter, the same is true when anger is triggered by stories about welfare cheats, and anything that suggests that a minority is responsible for our trillions of dollars of debt, poor schools, etc.
[2] Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal. This does not even include Clear Channel that owns over 1,000 radio stations across the nation.

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