Sunday, July 29, 2018

Some Things Shouldn’t Be For-Profit


Blue America has endorsed Mike Siegel for the congressional seat that stretches from Tomball and Cypress in the exurbs northwest of Houston, through Prairie View, Brenham and Weimar into northern Austin and its suburbs. Mike beat his primary opponent with over 70% of the vote. Now he'll face entrenched incumbent Michael McCaul, one of the richest members of Congress. Mike has been raising money in this extremely gerrymandered district and as of the June 30 FEC reporting deadline he had brought in $175,279. That's already more than anyone has raised against McCaul in a decade. Please read his guest post and consider contributing to his campaign by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer below.

Goal ThermometerFriday, the Austin water utility reported that McCaul's sprawling West Austin home used more city-supplied water than any other single-family residence in 2017-- one of only 22 residences to have used more than a million gallons of water, something McCaul is desperate to cover up. Coincidentally, the same week that McCaul’s water waste came to light, Mike Siegel received the national endorsement of the Sierra Club. "McCaul’s water-hogging is consistent with his worldview," Mike told us. "He believes this world is a playground for the rich, never mind the needs of the rest of us. Take his vote for the 2017 tax cuts: over $40 million went into the pockets of his family, and then he votes to cut our healthcare and retirement... We need to move past this latest gilded age and get to a place where everyone has a fair shot."

by Mike Siegel,
Democratic Nominee for Congress, TX-10

The ills of our society, in one headline: “The billion-dollar industry of detaining immigrant kids.”

The Trump administration’s family detention policy, which has already caused irreparable harm to thousands of infants and children, will live in infamy. Perhaps more than any other action, this is what the current Republican Party stands for: an openly racist and inhumane effort to discourage immigration from the south by using children as hostages.

But the family separation policy is not just a cynical show to motivate hateful Republican voters, it is also a profit-center. A growth industry. A wellspring of extravagant fortunes for well-connected entrepreneurs.

And a source of political contributions.

Private prison operators donate tens of millions of dollars to political candidates. My general election opponent, Rep. Michael McCaul, has received at least $15,000 from jailers profiting from immigrant detention, including Corrections Corporation of America (now "CoreCivic") and the Geo Group. In his capacity as Chairman of Homeland Security, McCaul advocates to fill more beds in immigrant detention centers. There is a direct line between the money he receives and the policies he creates.

And these policies are setting the foundation for even more political influence.

There are over 250 immigration detention facilities across the country, nearly two-thirds of which are operated by for-profit private prison companies. Over 350,000 immigrants are detained every year, and annual revenue exceeds four billion dollars. CoreCivic alone spent nearly $10 million between 2008 and 2014 lobbying members of the House Appropriations Committee Homeland Security Subcommittee. In return for this largess, Congress enacted an immigration detention quota, which requires that 33,400 beds be available on a daily basis, regardless of whether they are needed or not.

We have, as some say, a prison industrial complex. More specifically, an immigration detention industrial complex. And just like Eisenhower warned us about the tentacles of military contractors invading the decision-making apparatus of United States foreign policy, the influence of companies like Geo Corp and CoreCivic threatens to take immigration policy out of the hands of the American people and into the hands of those who profit for suffering.

By conducting the program through private companies, the Administration avoids scrutiny of its policy decisions. Obtaining prison records from a private entity is more difficult, and workers who would otherwise be federal employees are not unionized, making it even harder for would-be whistleblowers.

And so we are left with a completely dysfunctional and destructive system. There are rampant reports of sexual abuse of detainees. Medical care is dangerously and persistently inadequate. Conditions are appalling. And that doesn’t even take into account the use of forced labor.

In lock-ups across the country, immigrants work full-time for $1 a day to prepare food, wash clothes, and clean floors. A Georgia facility was sued for withholding basic necessities like food, toothpaste, soap and toilet paper; their goal was to compel prisoners to work in order to pay for those items from the commissary. In other places, prisoners must complete “voluntary work” or face punishment.

In a functioning democratic system, our elected representatives would not allow for so much suffering to be conducted in our name.

Unfortunately, we operate in a landscape where the Supreme Court believes corporations are “persons” with “free speech” rights including the right to make unlimited political contributions. Until we undo Citizens United and some of the other decisions that put profits before people, prison operators and others will continue to bribe officials to steer policy in their favor.

But I continue to believe in the power of the people. And on basic human decency issues, we are the majority.

Two-thirds of the American people oppose family separation. In November we have a chance to hold some of the key perpetrators accountable, including Michael McCaul. I will make sure that every Texas 10th voter knows that McCaul supported separating mothers from their children from the first day the policy was announced.

As the Democratic nominee, I have promised to reject all corporate PAC donations, and I am committed to undoing the privatization of our immigration detention system and fighting for a larger overhaul of how we treat migrant families, asylum seekers, guest workers, students, and other visitors to this country. This summer, my campaign successfully petitioned the Texas Democratic Party to add opposition to private detention centers to its statewide platform. The next step is to change our representative.

Voters across the country are ready to throw out corrupt and self-dealing politicians. McCaul is one of the worst, using his chairmanship to advance a pernicious industry that in return fills his campaign coffers. Removing him from office will be a victory for human rights and common decency.

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At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike is tilting at windmills. IT'S FUCKING TEXAS!

And even democraps will openly tell you that EVERYTHING should be "for-profit".

That's where they get their money.


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