Archive for the ‘Labor’ Category
May 16, 2013 BORDC
Over the next several weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Comprehensive Immigration Reform (S744), which would include a mandatory E-Verify system. E-Verify is an internet-based program accessed by employers when processing new hires. It compares information from an Employee’s Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records. The potential for E-Verify to become compulsory is quite controversial for several reasons – namely its disregard for personal privacy, the unnecessary obstacles it imposes to employment, and the fundamental change that it would signify in the relationship between U.S. government and U.S. citizen.
While allegedly created to target undocumented individuals, E-Verify would negatively affect documented U.S. citizens as well. Every job applicant would have to face an E-Verify background check, and unless the system is 100% accurate 100% of the time, these background checks will become a nightmare. Chris Calabrese, Senior Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union explains:
When you make a giant list of everybody who’s able to work in the United States, that list has to be completely accurate, because if there are mistakes in it, the result is those mistakes – those mistaken people can’t work.
These citizens will be required to petition the government to correct the mistake, creating a bureaucratic nightmare that will likely stall their job hunting process by weeks (if not longer). Calabrese calls this the “prove yourself to work” system that will hurt ordinary citizens. This signifies a fundamental shift in relationship between government and populace – no longer are we innocent until proven guilty. We are now guilty until proven worthy of a job. Gone will be the days of applying for a job, waiting on a quick background check, and becoming employed – now all citizens will have to wait for I-9s to be verified against a massive list of personal information housed by the government.
Beyond undue obstacles to employment lies an even more frightening truth about E-Verify: the invasion of privacy. Shahid Buttar wrote in a previous article that Comprehensive Immigration Reform would likely become a Trojan Horse for larger government surveillance, and E-Verify is just one manifestation of that government surveillance. Involving the government in something as routine as application for employment unnecessarily involves political bureaucracy in one’s personal life. More disconcerting, though, is the fact that so much personal information would be available from a single database – a dream for identity thieves.
E-Verify is but one example of how the new programs proposed in Comprehensive Immigration Reform would affect all U.S. citizens, not merely a small percentage of undocumented individuals. Like Next Generation Initiative (NGI), which would track individuals from city to city, scan not just fingerprints but irises and scars to help track and identify individuals, E-Verify signifies a broadening state of surveillance. In an article about NGI’s expansion of biometric databases, Alternet wrote, “Advancements in the collection of biometric data are double-edged: there’s the treat of a massive government surveillance infrastructure working too well – e.g., surveillance state – and there are concerns about its weaknesses, especially in keeping data secure.” The same can be said for E-Verify; it would likely be the gateway to a growing surveillance state, and the information stored within E-Verify would be susceptible to hacking. While this country is in dire need of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, we must be wary of “enforcement-first” immigration policies like NGI and E-Verify, which will only infringe on the rights of American citizens.
And, before you ask, ‘paradise’ is in the eye of the beholder…….My idea of heaven right now is a fireplace and a good library book. (Boxes of books are heavy!)
Feel free to leave me links to any particularly interesting stuff!
June 24, 2011 Naked Capitalism
Matt Stoller is a current fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. His Twitter feed is @matthewstoller.
More than a third of all states allow debtors “who can’t or won’t pay their debts” to be jailed. In 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal, judges have issued 5,000 such warrants. What is behind the increased pressure to incarcerate people with debts? Is it a desire to force debt payment? Or is it part of a new structure where incarceration is becoming increasingly the default tool to address any and all social problems?
Consider a different example that has nothing to do with debts. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania judge was convicted of racketeering, of taking bribes from parties of interest in his cases. It was a fairly routine case of bribery, with one significant exception. The party making the payoffs was a builder and operator of youth prisons, and the judge was rewarding him by sending lots of kids to his prisons.
Welcome to the for-profit prison industry. It’s an industry that wants people in jail, because jail is their product. And they have shareholder expectations to meet.
Privatized prisons are marketed to international investors as “social infrastructure”, and they are part of a wave of privatization washing over the globe. Multi-billion dollar prison companies are upgraded by analysts with antiseptic words like “prospects for global prison growth”, and these companies have built a revolving door and patronage machine characteristic of any government contractor. Only, in this case, the business they are in is putting people into steel cages (or “filling beds” as they put it), and they don’t care how, why, or whether the people in those beds should be there. They don’t care if you’re in prison for smoking pot, stealing cars, or being in debt. They just want people in jail.
Here’s the 2010 10k of the Corrections Corporation of America (PDF), the largest operator of private prisons in the country. It’s a pretty simple business model – more prisoners, more money. Or, as the company writes, “Historically, we have been successful in substantially filling our inventory of available beds and the beds that we have constructed. Filling these available beds would provide substantial growth in revenues, cash flow, and earnings per share.”
If you take a job away from someone who is paid a reasonable wage because they enjoy the protections and prosperity of democratic government, move it across a border, and give it to someone living under a thugocracy, forced to work for pennies with no protections whatsoever, it should be just plain obvious that the worker on our side of the border and the worker on the other side of the border are not going to be better off. And when you do this on a massive scale it just stands to reason that most people on both sides of the border are going to be worse off.
But propaganda being what it is we were somehow convinced to try a worldwide experiment in taking good jobs from democracies and turning them into bad jobs in thugocracies. Now, of course, the experiment has run its course and we can see the results.
Worker Against Worker
Setting worker against worker enabled a few people to get really, really really wealthy and powerful and use that wealth to become even more wealthy and powerful. Our country is in decline, burdened by massive trade deficits because the ones with vested interests in cheap labor won’t let us won’t take on the mercantilists, burdened by budget deficits because those vested interests have bought low taxes and government subsidies, our infrastructure crumbles because multinational business leaders refuse to invest here, with no more need of us as workers, and the resulting hollowed-out middle class can’t consume anymore. Other countries also suffer from similar stresses.
Out of this situation a new global elite has emerged, contemptuous of democracy and government and any power but the power of their own money. In country after country, these top few won’t share the proceeds with their own, either, while they keep the world from approaching solutions.