A new form of slavery is on the rise in the American economy. It dates back to the 1880s period of reconstruction when the nation first saw a surplus of non-white labor. Amidst a pervading climate of separate but equal, many freed slaves worked to integrate themselves into the job market. Fast forward to the 1930s, where the business cycle again saw a surplus based on different world circumstances. In the perpetual cycle of business, capitalism experienced the boom and bust of the depression, along with an ultimate failure that transcended color.
When America asked the question about what to do with surplus workers who could not find work, it became the subject of a heated debate between Democrats and Republicans. In the years following the ’20s, Hoover and his party believed that a failed capitalist system would eventually right itself, and magically get back on track. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said no, so he put people back to work, fired by the promises of his New Deal. As streets were paved and schools were built, the system rebooted itself. All was right with the world until along came a guy named Ronald Reagan.
Reagan dictated a policy that not only ignored the surplus workers, but figured out a way to make a profit off them. Reaganomics instigated the kind of changes that altered America’s values by committing the unspeakable — making a buck off the unemployed and the poor by putting them in jail.
It was ingeniously simple to track and document the unfortunate for any crime possible, strip them of their rights, and place them in prison. There they had food, housing and other services, for which they were given tasks paying from 93 cents to $1.23 an hour. The numbers of jailed individuals boomed and so did the profits they made.
So what does America do when it no longer needs slaves? It seeks the incarcerated and pays them a pittance to turn a profit. Being treated unfairly on the job is a violation of our constitutional rights, whether we are in jail or out. If you feel your place of work is exploiting you, it is a good idea to seek advice from a specialist in employee rights. You have the right to voice discontent about being treated unfairly.
truthout.org, “What Do You Do When You No Longer Need Your Slaves?” No author given, Aug. 13, 2013