William Norman Grigg
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an Incipient 'Terrorist' Denounces State Murder
of drug prohibition that gets far too little attention is the fact
that the drug war is immensely profitable for prohibitionists.
high-ranking officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration recently
a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee criticizing the Obama
administration for its supposed lack of zeal in enforcing marijuana
prohibition. According to the letter, the administration chief delinquency
is its reluctance to crack down on Washington and Colorado, and
this is impermissible in light of supposedly sacred international
obligations, such as “the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs… and
the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic
and Psychotropic Substances.”
the signatories of that letter were Robert L. Dupont, who headed
the National Institute on Drug Abuse under Presidents Richard Nixon
and Gerald Ford, and Peter Bensinger, who was head of the DEA during
most of that decade. Today, these drug warriors emeriti run a company
called Bensinger, DuPont
& Associates, which specializes in workplace drug testing.
have a financial interest in marijuana prohibition, it’s reasonable
to surmise that DuPont and Bensinger aren’t acting on purely idealistic
motives, or out of pious ardor for the sanctity of United Nations
No decent person
has anything but contempt for Drug Kingpins – but it’s difficult
to see how Prohibition Profiteers are any less contemptible. And
they’re hardly the only people who have become wealthy by monetizing
the misery generated in the prison-industrial complex. Public incarceration
is the only consistently growing sector of our increasingly socialized
with prisons overflowing in Idaho, the state department of correction
a private jet to transport 120 inmates to the Kit Carson Correctional
Center in Burlington, Colorado. That prison, like
the Idaho Correctional Center , is owned and operated by Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA). The inmates, who were clothed in orange
jumpsuits and shackles, were greeted at the airport by a SWAT team
in full stormtrooper regalia.
more than 800 prisoners were transferred from Idaho to Colorado.
Prison overcrowding wouldn’t be a problem if the government were
to stop imprisoning people for non-violent offenses, something the
corporate prison lobby well understands.
Over the last
decade, CCA spent tens of millions of dollars lobbying
on behalf of policies that increase the demand for prison space.
2011 corporate report, GEO Group, another prison contractor,
described how its profits depended on the state providing a steady
supply of inmates. This is why the company opposes “the relaxation
of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction,
sentencing or deportation practices, [and] … the decriminalization
of drugs and controlled substances[.]”
This is a system
designed to expand the profits of politically connected corporations,
not to protect the public from violent crime. And the uses to which
those profits are put illustrate some fascinating -- albeit repellent
-- truths about our economy and society.
In recent decades,
professional sports franchises have increasingly relied on the sale
of corporate “naming rights” – in addition to various kinds of government
subsidies -- to pay for sports stadiums. This trend has caught on
in college football, as well. As a result, a growing number of stadiums
are named after companies that produce goods or offer services.
Florida Atlantic University has
sold naming rights to a company that warehouses convicts – and
lobbies government to produce more of them.
GEO Group, the nation’s largest private prison company, has
bought the naming rights to the new 30,000-seat football stadium
at Florida Atlantic University. On February 19 the company announced
that its charitable foundation will pay $6 million to the university
over a 12-year-period in exchange for the coliseum bearing the name
Mencken’s ancient Roman progenitor, observed that the Empire's torpid
subjects would never revolt as long as they were given “bread and
circuses” (panem et circenses). In late imperial America,
where a steady diet of television "police procedurals" and pseudo-documentary
"reality" programs relentlessly exalt the State's armed enforcers
the formula could be rendered panem et circenses et carceres:
This keeps the masses distracted and the prison profiteers well-fed.
Norman Grigg [send him mail]
publishes the Pro
Libertate blog and hosts the Pro
Libertate radio program.
© 2013 William Norman Grigg
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