Baltimore Has Become A Rotting, Decaying War Zone As A Raging Opioid Epidemic Eats Away At The City Like Cancer

It is hard to believe that Baltimore was once one of the greatest cities in the entire world.  Unlike nearby Washington D.C., Baltimore is a blue collar city that is home to some of the hardest working people in America.  When I was in high school, my brother and I were huge fans of the Baltimore Orioles, and once in a while our parents would drive us from our home in Virginia all the way up to Baltimore to see them play.  As an adult, I spent a number of years living near D.C., and I would take frequent trips up to Baltimore.  To say that the city is in a state of decline would be a major understatement.  Everywhere you look there are abandoned buildings and homes, and as you drive through some of the worst areas you can actually see drug addicts just lying in the streets.  Just like so many other communities all over this country, decades of liberal policies have taken a brutal toll, and now the city is just a rotting, decaying shell of the glorious metropolis that it once was.

There are some sections of Baltimore that you simply do not go into once the sun goes down.  And actually it isn’t a very good idea to go into those areas during the day either.  The crime in the city has gotten so bad that authorities have actually formally requested help from the federal government

According to The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, the city has logged in 118 homicides today with the projection of >400 murders for year’s end. It’s so bad here that Baltimore’s Mayor has asked the Federal Government for help in attempt to regain control. Even the police union sounds the alarm of an officer shortage leading to decrease in patrols. All of this is occurring as the Baltimore population declines, nearing a 100-year low, U.S. Census says.

Through the end of April, Baltimore was on pace for the highest murder rate in the history of the city.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The primary factor fueling all of this violence is an opioid epidemic that is completely and totally out of control

The opioid epidemic is the quiet killer that has been leaving a trail of bodies on the streets of Baltimore.

“The individuals that are putting these drugs on our street, they’re killing people on our street,” said deputy commissioner Dean Palmere of the Baltimore Police Department.

Drug overdoses is expected to have killed 2,000 people statewide in 2016 and more than 800 in Baltimore alone.

“There are more people dying from overdose here in Baltimore City, than there are dying of homicide,” said Baltimore City health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in February.

That last paragraph amazed me when I first read it.

Even though Baltimore is on pace for the highest murder rate in the city’s history, more people are actually dying from drug overdoses.

And now police in the city are warning of a new opioid that is reportedly “100 times more potent than heroin”.  It is called Carfentanyl, and it can kill people almost instantly.

I would like to share with you a short YouTube film put out by Alastair Williamson just a few days ago entitled “The Baltimore Experience”.  No matter how much I write, I could never communicate the devastation in the city quite like this little video does…

Did you see the part near the end where Williamson stops to offer a bottle of water to a man that is just lying in the street?

Hopefully that particular man is not on anything, but it is quite common to see people lying around like zombies in cities where an opioid epidemic is raging.  These are very cruel drugs, and they will utterly consume you if you allow them to.

The more drugs that come in, the worse the violence gets, and within the past 24 hours we have seen four more senseless murders in Baltimore…

Two men were shot and killed Tuesday morning in west Baltimore, police said. Officers responded at 5:52 a.m. to the shooting on the 2800 block of Lanvale Street.

Police said officers found the victims in and around a vehicle. Both had been shot in the head and were declared dead at the scene, police said.

A 35-year-old man was fatally shot Monday evening in southeast Baltimore, police said.

The victim, identified as Charles Gatuthu, 35, was shot in the head and body at about 7:45 p.m. in the 6100 block of Boston Street. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital, where he died.

A 25-year-old was shot and killed Monday afternoon in west Baltimore, police said.

Of course Baltimore is far from alone.  On Monday, I wrote about how Chicago is becoming a gang-infested wasteland, and on Tuesday we got news of Chicago’s 200th homicide so far in 2017.

And an official bulletin went out to all members of the Chicago police on Monday warning them about the “high-powered weapons” that gangs are now using to kill people…

Chicago police issued a bulletin Monday warning its officers about gangs armed with high-powered weapons, after three people were shot to death over the weekend – including two attending a memorial for the earlier victim.

Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the three people who were killed in the shootings Sunday were all members of the same street gang.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is still America.

The precious people that are getting hooked on these drugs and that are committing these murders were once innocent little boys and girls.  Somewhere along the way they were led down the wrong path, and this is happening on a massive scale all over the nation.

So what should we do?

What we need are some real solutions.  We need to restore the principles and the values that this nation was founded upon, and we need people that are willing to step forward and take this nation in a different direction.

In times of great darkness, light is needed the most, and at this moment in our history we are in desperate need of some lights.

Thousands Flee Chicago For Safer Areas Of The Country As America’s Third Largest City Becomes A Gang-Infested Wasteland

Did you know that the number of murders increased by almost 60 percent in the city of Chicago last year?  And as you will see below, this year gang violence in the Windy City has risen to a new level of viciousness.  A staggering 9.5 million people live in the Chicago metropolitan area, and it was once known primarily for great pizza, bitter cold and some of the best sports fans on the entire planet.  But now the number one thing that comes to mind for many when they think about the city of Chicago is gang violence.  As it becomes clear that things are not going to turn around any time soon, thousands of residents are leaving the city for safer areas of the nation.  In fact, Cook County lost more people than any other county in America last year by a very wide margin.

When your murder rate goes up by double digits in a single year, you have got a problem.

But when it goes up by close to 60 percent, you have got a catastrophe on your hands

In 2016, the number of murders in the city jumped nearly 60 percent to over 760, more than New York and Los Angeles combined. There were more than 4,300 shooting victims in the city last year, according to police.

Of course we aren’t supposed to talk about the fact that this is quietly happening in communities all over America.  This is one of the reasons why there is such a disparity in real estate prices these days.  The wealthy are willing to pay a substantial premium to live with other wealthy people in areas that are far away from all the violence.

And the gang violence in Chicago continues to escalate.  For example, check out what happened just yesterday

Two people were killed and eight others were wounded in an attack at the site of a memorial for a man who was slain earlier Sunday in the Brighton Park neighborhood, police said.

Chicago police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Navarro told reporters at the Southwest Side scene in the 2600 block of West 46th Place that the attack was “another brazen act of gang violence.”

Navarro said the victims, a mix of men and women, were taking part in a memorial for a man, identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office as Daniel Cardova, who had been killed at that location earlier in the day when two people fired rifles from a nearby alleyway.

Would you want to raise your children in an area where this was going on?

Thanks to decades of open borders and unrestrained illegal immigration, gang membership has been absolutely soaring in major cities such as Chicago.  Five years ago the Chicago Crime Commission estimated that there were 150,000 gang members living in the metropolitan area, and by this point that number is certainly far higher.

According to Wikipedia, there are currently only 12,244 police officers in Chicago.  That means that the police are outnumbered by at least a 12 to 1 margin.

And according to an article published by the Chicago Sun-Times, some of these gangs have agreed to start using automatic weapons against the police…

The meeting took place Thursday between higher-ups from the Vice Lords, Black Disciples and Four Corner Hustlers, according to an alert issued to department members the day after the meeting.

The Four Corner Hustlers “provided guns” and have “a sniper in place” though authorities do not know where, according to the alert. The Four Corner Hustlers also are supplying the other two gangs with automatic weapons, which all three factions also have agreed to use against police, the alert states.

No wonder the police suicide rate in Chicago is 60 percent higher than the national average.

If I was living in the Chicago metropolitan area, I would be making every effort to relocate, and apparently there are lots and lots of people that see things the same way that I do.

In fact, net domestic migration for the Chicago metropolitan area was a staggering -89,000 during 2016…

One particularly stunning figure: net domestic migration, with an estimated 89,000 more people moving from the Chicago area to other portions of the country in the past year than those who moved in.

Liz Schuh, principal policy analyst for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, said the figures are “of concern for the region’s continued economic success.”

“Residents often choose to stay in or migrate to a region because of economic opportunity and quality of life,” she added.

In particular, wealthy people are living the city in droves.  It has been reported that 3,000 millionaires left the city of Chicago in 2015 alone.  Certainly the ridiculously high taxes are one factor why so many wealthy people are leaving, but of course gang violence is also a major reason for the mass exodus.

If violence in our major cities is starting to spiral out of control while the economy is still relatively stable, what are things going to look like when a complete economic meltdown happens?

It is only a matter of time before widespread rioting, looting and civil unrest becomes commonplace in major cities all over the country.  With Donald Trump in the White House, the deep frustration that has been simmering in our inner cities is now reaching a boiling point.  It certainly isn’t going to take much of a spark to set off a tremendous explosion.

In anticipation of what is coming, large numbers of Americans have already been relocating to less populated portions of the country.  And the good news is that there are lots of areas to pick from.  According to Survival Dan, about half of the U.S. population lives in just 146 counties…

Recent U.S. census data indicates that out of the 3000 counties in the United States, fully 50% of the population lives in just 146. If you want to have any chance of surviving a widespread catastrophic event by avoiding the hordes that will be searching for critical resources in its aftermath, then check out the following map to get a visual reference of the areas you want to stay away from.

Of course it can be quite difficult to find a good job in an area that is not heavily populated, and there are a lot of expenses involved in relocating to a totally different part of the country.

And there is certainly a lot to consider when picking out a new place to live, and so you would want to do a lot of research before making such a move.

But my wife and I did step out in faith and made a decision to relocate to a new area nearly six years ago, and it was one of the best decisions that we have ever made.

From An Industrial Economy To A Paper Economy – The Stunning Decline Of Manufacturing In America

Industrial - Public DomainWhy does it seem like almost everything is made in China these days?  Yesterday I was looking at some pencils that we had laying around the house and I noticed that they had been manufactured in China.  I remarked to my wife that it was such a shame that they don’t make pencils in the United States anymore.  At another point during the day, I turned over my television remote and I noticed that it also had “Made In China” engraved on it.  It is still Labor Day as I write this article, and so I think that it is quite appropriate to write about our transition from an industrial economy to a paper economy today.  Since the year 2000, the United States has lost five million manufacturing jobs even though our population has grown substantially since that time.  Manufacturing in America is in a state of stunning decline, our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted, and our formerly great manufacturing cities are in an advanced state of decay.  We consume far more wealth than we produce, and the only way that we are able to do this is by taking on massive amounts of debt.  But is our debt-based paper economy sustainable in the long run?

Back in 1960, 24 percent of all American workers worked in manufacturing.  Today, that number has shriveled all the way down to just 8 percent.  CNN is calling it “the Great Shift”

In 1960, about one in four American workers had a job in manufacturing. Today fewer than one in 10 are employed in the sector, according to government data.

Call it the Great Shift. Workers transitioned from the fields to the factories. Now they are moving from factories to service counters and health care centers. The fastest growing jobs in America now are nurses, personal care aides, cooks, waiters, retail salespersons and operations managers.

No wonder the middle class is shrinking so rapidly.  There aren’t too many cooks, waiters or retail salespersons that can support a middle class family.

Since the turn of the century, we have lost more than 50,000 manufacturing facilities.  Meanwhile, tens of thousands of gleaming new factories have been erected in places like China.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

At this point, the total number of government employees in the United States exceeds the total number of manufacturing employees by almost 10 million

Government employees in the United States outnumber manufacturing employees by 9,932,000, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Federal, state and local government employed 22,213,000 people in August, while the manufacturing sector employed 12,281,000.

The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to 1939. For half a century—from January 1939 through July 1989—manufacturing employment always exceeded government employment in the United States, according to these numbers.

You might be thinking that government jobs are “good jobs”, but the truth is that they don’t produce wealth.  Government employees are really good at pushing paper around and telling other people what to do, but in most instances they don’t actually make anything.

In order to have a sustainable economy, you have got to have people creating and producing things of value.  A debt-based paper economy may seem to work for a while, but eventually the whole thing inevitably comes crashing down when faith in the paper is lost.

Right now, the rest of the world is willing to send us massive amounts of stuff that they produce for our paper.  So we keep producing more and more paper and we keep going into more and more debt, but at some point the gig will be up.

If we want to be a wealthy nation in the long-term, we have got to produce stuff.  That is why the latest news from Caterpillar is so depressing.  In addition to the thousands of layoffs that had been previously announced by the industrial machinery giant, it appears that a fresh wave of layoffs has arrived

Hundreds of mostly office employees received layoff notices at one of the largest Caterpillar Inc. facilities in the Peoria area this week, just as the company announced plans to close overseas production plants and eliminate thousands more positions.

A total of 300 support and management employees at Building AC and the Tech Center in Mossville this week received job loss notifications that included severance packages, 60 days notice and mandated Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letters.

During this election season, you will hear many of our politicians talk about how good “free trade” is for the global economy.  But that is only true if the trade is balanced.  Unfortunately, we have been running a yearly trade deficit of between 400 billion dollars and 600 billion dollars for many years…

Trade Deficit 2016

When you have got about half a trillion dollars more going out than you have coming in year after year that has severe consequences.

Let me try to break it down very simply.

Imagine that I am the United States and you are China.  I take one dollar out of my wallet and I give it to you and then you send me some stuff.

After a while, I want more stuff, so I take another dollar out of my wallet and send it to you in exchange for more products.

But that stuff only lasts for so long, and so pretty soon I find myself taking another dollar out of my wallet and giving it to you for even more stuff.

Ultimately, who is going to end up with all the money?

It isn’t a big mystery as to how China ended up with so much money.  And when we can’t pay our bills we have to go and beg them to let us borrow some of the money that we sent to them in the first place.  Since we pay interest on that borrowed money, that makes China even richer.

This is why I am so obsessed with these trade issues.  They truly are at the very heart of our long-term economic problems.

But most Americans don’t understand these things, and they seem to think that our debt-based paper economy can just keep rolling along indefinitely.

In the end, history will be the judge as to who was right and who was wrong.

Violence Erupts In America’s Heartland As Milwaukee Becomes The Latest U.S. City To Burn

Milwaukee Riot - YouTube ScreenshotThe city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin exploded in violence last night as the wave of chaos and civil unrest that is sweeping across America continues to intensify.  At this point, many of our largest cities have become powder kegs of anger and frustration, and a full-blown riot can be set off with a single bullet.  In this case, an armed suspect was shot and killed by Milwaukee police as he attempted to evade the police, and his death almost instantly set off pandemonium in the heart of the city.  America is being ripped apart, and much more violence is coming.  Decades of social decay and economic decline have fundamentally transformed many of our greatest cities, and tensions that have been simmering for a very long time are now being brought to a boil.  Sadly, it seems quite likely that we will see even more rage, hatred and divisiveness in the months ahead.

The sudden eruption of violence that we witnessed in Milwaukee last night was absolutely stunning.  Within just hours after the shooting of the armed suspect, fires were burning all over the city

Protesters clashed with officers in the hours after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed an armed suspect during a foot chase. After an hours-long confrontation with officers, police reported that a gas station was set on fire. Police said firefighters initially could not get close to the blaze because of gunshots.

Later, fires were started at a bank branch, a beauty supply company and an auto parts store as scores of people gathered near the crime scene on the city’s north side, a grim Mayor Tom Barrett said at a news conference Saturday night. He said the unrest was driven by a social media frenzy urging people to gather in the area.

Of course police were one of the primary targets of the violence.  It is being reported that at least one squad car was set ablaze, and another had a brick thrown through a window.

One prominent Milwaukee city official is blaming racial injustice for the violence.  The following comes from CNN

City Alderman Khalif Rainey said the area has been a “powder keg” for potential violence throughout the summer.

“What happened tonight may not have been right and I am not justifying that but no one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that need to be rectified,” Rainey said. “This community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African Americans in the entire country.”

Rainey said Saturday’s violence was a byproduct of inequities, injustice, unemployment and under-education.

“Something has to be done to address these issues,” he said. “The black people of Milwaukee are tired, they are tired of living under this oppression, this is their life.”

Without a doubt, the suffering that is going on in our inner cities is intense.  Our economic infrastructure has been gutted by decades of bad trade deals, and evidence of severe social and moral decay is all around us.

But no matter how bad things are, there is never any excuse for committing random acts of violence.  In addition to setting businesses on fire, it is being reported that rioters were trying to drag people out of their vehicles in order to beat them up.

How in the world does that solve anything?

Meanwhile, police all over the nation continue to be targets of violence.  In a previous article, I told my readers that the number of police officers that have been shot and killed this year has risen by 78 percent compared to last year.

Well, over the past few days some more officers have been added to the list.  For example, the following is an excerpt from a CNN report about an officer that was just shot and killed in south Georgia…

A police officer was shot dead while responding to a call of a suspicious person in south Georgia, authorities said.

The shooting occurred Saturday night after the officer, Tim Smith, got the call in a residential area in Eastman, special agent Scott Whitley of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations said.

While on patrol, Smith encountered the subject and exited his car. That’s when he was fatally shot, Whitley said.

And this is from a Fox News report about an officer that was shot and killed in New Mexico…

Two Ohio fugitives wanted for a murder have been arrested after authorities say one of them fatally shot a New Mexico police officer.

Dona Ana County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said Saturday that 38-year-old Jesse Hanes is suspected of gunning down Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez during a traffic stop Friday.

In addition, there was another very disturbing incident that just happened a few days ago in Arkansas.  When a suspect started shooting at police officers, one was killed, one was wounded, and a police dog named Kina that got hit and ran away was just found on Saturday

Police spokeswoman Kristin Faulkenberry told reporters the dog, named Kina, “was up and walking” when searchers found the animal Friday morning near where the shooting unfolded near Hackett, about 115 miles west of Little Rock.

The dog was shot and ran into a wooded area Wednesday when a man identified as Billy Monroe Jones opened fire on officers, killing Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper and wounding Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells.

Earlier today I talked to a friend of mine that works as a police officer, and he admitted that he and his wife do think about all of this violence that is being directed at the police.  I suppose that it would be exceedingly difficult not to.  Those that are serving their communities in this way are going to have a very tough time moving forward.  At this point every single law enforcement officer in the entire nation is a potential target, and they are just going to have to find a way to deal with this new reality.

America is more divided than I have ever seen in my entire lifetime.  Instead of learning how to love one another, hatred is growing by the day.

More chaos is coming, more violence is coming, and more of our cities will burn.

Things didn’t have to turn out this way, but thanks to decades of incredibly foolish decisions we will now reap what we have sown.

Donald Trump’s Convention Speech Highlighted The Truth About America’s Decline

American Dream - Public DomainAmerica is in decline.  There are some that still attempt to deny this, but the reason why Donald Trump’s campaign slogan has so strongly resonated with the American people is because deep inside most of us realize that America is not as great as it used to be.  Our economy is a mess, we are 19 trillion dollars in debt, our infrastructure is crumbling, crime is on the rise, moral decay is all around us, other countries don’t respect us as much anymore, and our nation is the most divided that it has been in decades.  Anyone that believes that America is better than it has ever been in 2016 is either completely delusional or simply has not been paying attention.

As I write this article, the prepared text of Trump’s speech has already been released to the press.  So the following remarks may differ slightly from how he actually delivered them, but the differences are not likely to be too great.  At one point during his speech, Trump highlighted the rising crime and violence in our cities, and the numbers that he had to share were more than just a little bit alarming…

Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17% in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60% in nearby Baltimore.

In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.

The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year. Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.

And it is really hard to argue with Trump about this.  We have all seen what just happened in Orlando, in Dallas and in Baton Rouge.  As I have said so many times before, a spirit of violence and civil unrest is rising in America.

Donald Trump thinks that he can fix this.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that any politician will be able to do that at this point.

Our long-term economic decline is another puzzle that our national leaders have been unable to solve.  Gallup’s U.S. economic confidence index just hit the lowest level so far this year, and poverty levels continue to rise all over the country.  The following is another excerpt from the text of Trump’s speech…

Nearly 4-in-10 African-American children are living in poverty, while 58% of African-American youth are not employed. Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when the President took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely.

Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000. Our manufacturing trade deficit has reached an all-time high – nearly $800 billion in a single year.

The budget is no better. President Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing.

Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in Third World condition, and forty-three million Americans are on food stamps.

Even during Obama’s so-called “economic recovery”, the middle class has continued to shrink.  Right now, 62 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and millions upon millions of ordinary families find themselves desperately clawing and scratching as they try to survive from month to month.

One very frustrated mother recently shared her feelings about her family’s ongoing financial struggles on scarymommy.com

I’m tired of my stomach flipping inside when my son mentions he’d like to take a computer class after school. Or when my other son wants to enroll in swim lessons, take an art class, or buy a new bicycle. I’m tired of wondering where on earth we’ll come up with the cash for our children to pursue their interests.

I’m tired of never, ever going on vacations that don’t involve someone flying us out to see them or crashing at someone’s house for free.

I’m tired of wondering how on earth we’ll be able to send our kids to college.

I’m tired of renting, and the almost certain feeling I have that we’ll never be able to afford to buy a house.

I’m tired of having to pretend I’m not worried about it all.

I’m tired of my kids overhearing our worries, of knowing that money is a constant struggle for us.

Before I wrap up this article, I want to share one more stunning example of America’s decline.

Under Barack Obama, corruption and incompetence has spread throughout every part of our government.  Sadly, that even includes the Secret Service.

Secret Service agents are supposed to be “the best of the best”, and they are charged with protecting our most important national leaders.

But instead of doing their jobs with seriousness and professionalism, they have been acting like wild animals.  Documents that have just been made public reveal that the Secret Service has become an absolute disgrace in recent years…

They highlight incidents in which agents had sexual encounters with underage girls, married agents took part in ‘wheels up, rings off’ parties, and a manager who sexually harassed female subordinates dubbed the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) the ‘Nice **** and *** Club.’

The documents contain a report about “a male agent who had his gun stolen by a male prostitute he solicited using his government computer in Puerto Rico“, and they also detail the behavior of one agency manager in particular that deserves to be immediately fired

The report says the manager kept alcohol in his office and forced employees to drink ‘so he could trust them.’

‘He sexually harassed every female subordinate,’ the report says.

The manager would ‘publicly’ male employees: ‘Where are my little whores/*******? Have you slept with them yet?’

If this is what is happening in the Secret Service, can you imagine what is going on in other federal agencies behind closed doors?

America is a complete and total mess, and Donald Trump is completely correct when he talks about the need to make America great again.

But is that even possible, and if so, what would that look like?

Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

Private Prisons: The More Americans They Put Behind Bars The More Money They Make

Private Prisons: The More Americans They Put Behind Bars The More Money They Make - Photo by Tony HisgettHow would you describe an industry that wants to put more Americans in prison and keep them there longer so that it can make more money?  In America today, approximately 130,000 people are locked up in private prisons that are being run by for-profit companies, and that number is growing very rapidly.  Overall, the U.S. has approximately 25 percent of the entire global prison population even though it only has 5 percent of the total global population.  The United States has the highest incarceration rate on the entire globe by far, and no nation in the history of the world has ever locked up more of its own citizens than we have.  Are we really such a cesspool of filth and decay that we need to lock up so many of our own people?  Or are there some other factors at work?  Could part of the problem be that we have allowed companies to lock up men and women in cages for profit?  The two largest private prison companies combined to bring in close to $3,000,000,000 in revenue in 2010, and the largest private prison companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade.  Putting Americans behind bars has become very big business, and those companies have been given a perverse incentive to push for even more Americans to be locked up.  It is a system that is absolutely teeming with corruption, and it is going to get a lot worse unless someone does something about it.

One of the keys to success in the private prison business it to get politicians to vote your way.  That is why the big private prison companies spend so much money on lobbying and campaign contributions.  The following is an excerpt from a report put out by the Justice Policy Institute entitled “Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies“…

For-profit private prison companies primarily use three strategies to influence policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships, networks, and associations.

Over the years, these political strategies have allowed private prison companies to promote policies that lead to higher rates of incarceration and thus greater profit margins for their company. In particular, private prison companies have had either influence over or helped to draft model legislation such as “three-strikes” and “truth-in-sentencing” laws, both of which have driven up incarceration rates and ultimately created more opportunities for private prison companies to bid on contracts to increase revenues.

If you can believe it, three of the largest private prison companies have spent approximately $45,000,000 combined on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past decade.

Would they be spending so much money if those companies did not believe that it was getting results?

Just look at what has happened to the U.S. prison population over the past several decades.  Prior to 1980, there were virtually no private prisons in the United States.  But since that time, we have seen the overall prison population and the private prison population absolutely explode.

For example, between 1990 and 2009 the number of Americans in private prisons grew by about 1600 percent.

Overall, the U.S. prison population more than quadrupled between 1980 and 2007.

So something has definitely changed.

Not that it is wrong to put people in prison when they commit crimes.  Of course not.  And right now violent crime is rapidly rising in many of our largest cities.  When people commit violent crimes they need to be removed from the streets.

But when you put those criminals into the hands of private companies that are just in it to make a buck, the potential for abuse is enormous.

For example, when auditors visited one private prison in Texas, they “got so much fecal matter on their shoes they had to wipe their feet on the grass outside.

The prisoners were literally living in their own manure.

How would you feel if a member of your own family was locked up in such a facility?

And the truth is that there seem to be endless stories of abuse in private prisons.  One private prison company reportedly charges inmates $5.00 a minute to make phone calls but only pays them $1.00 a day to work…

Last year the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.

Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.

Speaking of work, private prisons have found that exploiting their inmates as a source of slave labor can be extraordinarily profitable.  Today, private prisons are stealing jobs from ordinary American workers in a whole host of industries.  The following is from an article by Vicky Pelaez

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

And many of the largest corporations in America have rushed in to take advantage of this pool of very cheap slave labor.  Just check out some of the big names that have been exploiting prison labor…

At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

But of course some of the biggest profits for private prisons come from detaining young people.  Today, private prison companies operate more than 50 percent of all “youth correctional facilities” in the United States.

And sometimes judges have even been bribed by these companies to sentence kids to very harsh sentences and to send them to their facilities.  The following is from a report about two judges in Pennsylvania that were recently convicted for taking money to send kids to private prisons…

Michael Conahan, a former jurist in Luzerne County, was sentenced on Friday to 210 months in custody by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik II. Conahan was also ordered to pay $874,000 in restitution. […] As Main Justice reported in August, Ciavarella, former president judge of the Court of Common Pleas and former judge of the Juvenile Court for Luzerne County, was sentenced to 28 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $965,930. […]

Conahan’s role in the “cash for kids” scheme was to order the closing of a county-run detention center, clearing the way for Ciavarella, once known as a strict “law and order” judge, to send young offenders to private facilities. This arrangement worked out well for Ciavarella and Conahan, as well as the builder of the facilities and a developer, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

The arrangement didn’t work out so well for the young offenders, some of them sent away for offenses that were little more than pranks and would have merited probation, or perhaps just scoldings, if the judges had tried to live up to their oaths.

Are you starting to see why private prisons are such a problem?

Hundreds of kids had their lives permanently altered by those corrupt judges.

When you allow people to make money by locking other people up in cages, you are just asking for trouble.

The more Americans they put behind bars, the more money these private prisons make.  It is a system that needs to be brought to an end.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that private prisons are a good idea or a bad idea?

Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

They Will Lock You Up Too If They Get The Chance - Photo by Barnellbe

21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind

You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure.  So what does our infrastructure say about us?  It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay.  At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers.  Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment.  Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year.  Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry.  Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade.  Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke.  Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated.  Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down.  Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent.  But of course we don’t have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated.  While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us.  Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.

The following are 21 facts about America’s failing infrastructure that will blow your mind….

#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.

#2 There are simply not enough roads in the United States today.  Each year, traffic jams cost the commuters of America 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline.

#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.

#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.

#5 Close to a third of all highway fatalities are due “to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.”

#6 One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.

#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.

#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.

#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure.  That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.

#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.

#12 Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.

#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year.  The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.

#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.

#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.

#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best.  Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long….

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York’s are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions “deplorable” in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.

#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 16 percent of our construction workers are unemployed.

#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020.  If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.

#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.

#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure.  That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.

So where did we go wrong?

Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking.  Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.

Another major problem is that there is so much corruption and waste in our system these days.  The government certainly spends more than enough money, but very little of that money is spent wisely.  A lot of the money that could be going toward rebuilding our infrastructure is being poured down the toilet instead.  For much more on this, please read my previous article entitled “16 Sickening Facts That Show How Members Of Congress And Federal Workers Are Living The High Life At Your Expense“.

Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.

We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.

We are a complete and total mess.  So why shouldn’t what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?

And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up.  The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.

So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure.  What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.