TULSA, Oklahoma, U.S.A—You are twenty-seven and you live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. You can’t find a job, I mean, not really! You cannot take care of yourself let alone someone else. You apply for welfare, you are tossed off. You apply to jobs at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, CVS, Walgreens, Reasor’s, Warehouse Market, Walmart, etc., and you get three hours from 3 AM to 6 AM here and another two hours over there across town. The total five hours is not good enough for even a part time gig.
There’s no public transportation and your old 1971 Buick, the one you got stiffed by the dealership for 450 bucks has given up the ghost on you. You say hey, I must survive somehow. Not you, but your human instincts steer you towards joining a friend who’s been making enough to get by. He sells weed.
You are arrested. Luckily, you escape death at the hands of white Tulsa cops. They managed to handcuff you without shooting at you and tossed in jail. Your public defender comes in and tells you to plead guilty. You do, and you get a reduced sentence—a mandatory minimum of 10 years, ala Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill. Three strikes and you are out!
Your first day in prison is a Friday, and that’s fish day in federal prisons across the country. As you approached the cafeteria, a fellow prisoner warns you, “Don’t eat the fish. Ever. We call it “sewer trout.” You stay away from the fish. But when you get down to the food line, you see boxes stacked up. They were all marked, “Alaskan Cod. Product of China. Not for Human Consumption. Feed Use Only.” It wasn’t human-grade food. But this is what you must eat in prison for 10 years!
The first Monday, you are immediately given a full time job under a program called UNICOR, also known as Federal Prison Industries. It is in UNICOR that you earn a dollar a day to build furniture, man call centers, and do any number of other jobs. You figure that in ten years, if you worked every day and never got a day off, you would amass some 3,600 bucks. Of course you know that’s unreasonable. You can’t work nonstop for three years!
But you reason that whatever you are left with is way better than outside prison where on average you have to pay rent (500 dollars a month), taxes, insurance (80 dollars a month), food (130 dollars a month), etc., all the same while looking for a job you cannot find. This is also way better than other jobs in prison which pay 0.60 dollars per month.
After three months in prison, you start to feel some fever. Your fellow roommate feels the same too. You both go and ask permission to go to sick call because you are not feeling well. The corrections officer denies your requests. Your fellow roommate dies two hours later of a heart attack. You stiffen up. You must survive or else. The only prison in prison is death.
Later, when you’ve had enough time to think through some of the things you are seeing in prison, you figure out why so many are getting sick in prison. Just before you got to prison, a private food service company, John Soules Foods Inc., “accidentally” sold dog food to prisons to be fed to prisoners (mis—) marked as “ground beef.”
You look through the papers, and there was no punishment for the company or its executives, other than a 392,000 dollar fine, the cost of the investigation, paid to the U.S. Treasury. Prisoners got nothing. Not even an apology. And the shame of the story is that nobody could even tell that it was dog food. It tasted the same as everything else prisoners are served.
You are like, reason up, and so you ask, and you are told to dig deeper. Why is it that the federal government can give you room and board and a full time job so they can keep you in prison but refuse to do so to keep you out of prison? In fact, if the federal government spent 18,000 dollars a year on you to make sure you have a place to sleep and food to eat, the state of Oklahoma will save more than about 12 million dollars a year. That is about 450 dollars a year per prisoner. Of course that is not realistic, murderers must still go to prison. But then again imagine some twenty thousand more people in Tulsa making 18,000 dollars a year. That is an economy!
Ah! Then you realize that it is not just about you. It’s a system in play. An exploitative system. And that system is called privatize everything, which just means, the government contracts private companies to do their bidding while these companies receive everyone else’s tax payer dollars for reducing costs.
Oh, and there’s much more. Exacerbating the conditions to have you commit crimes to survive, like selling weed, and then if they don’t end up shooting you in the back while they attempt to arrest you, they will try keeping you in prison, paying you subservient wages and forcing you to work in a commercial, for-profit enterprise, without medical insurance. This simply puts other Americans out of work. It forces labor costs in the general population down! Win—win—win, for the Prison Industrial Complex, for small government, for big government, for government contractors and for the private industry.
Lose—lose—lose, for small business! How in the world can a small company compete with prison labor? It can’t. And as a result, Americans are thrown out of work, forced to commit crimes to survive, sent to jail and forced to work. Win, win, for the forces that be.
This is why when you live in the U.S.A, you must find work, you must have work, and if you can’t find work, don’t stay behind long enough to become an American Hustler. Do not stay behind long enough to be forced to do something stupid—to commit a “crime.” Just leave. You are better off!