Notes on Forestalling Social Unrest in California … by Alice B. Clagett

 

Rough notes on Chinese forced labor, and North Korean forced labor … pros and cons … The incendiary issue of human rights, as opposed to the unyielding issue of economic reality, as it’s devolving amongst the homeless, jobless, and prison-released multi-offense felon populations, here in California …

Dear Ones,

As to our illegal population, and considering the current crisis of the economy of Los Angeles, the thing of it is: They have a dream, and a feeling, that here, in Los Angeles, is opportunity. What we need to do is, provide work and housing concomitant to that which they experience in their home countries, so that they will have a more realistic view of the benefits of returning to their home countries. I feel it’s coming down to that. I feel we can be as humane as possible in this, but that this is most likely the only possible alternative and denouement.

We ought to offer the Mexican people who arrive here, the same opportunity to work, and own homes, as is the case for us in Mexico. In other words, if we can own land in Mexico; if we can find work in Mexico, then let us provide work and property ownership for Mexican peoples who are here in Los Angeles.

Let’s try to figure out some way to get around the minimum wage, for people who are unhomed, and who are receiving extra social services, in the event the United States government is not able to participate, here in California, in ameliorating the situation, and easing the social unrest.

For instance, could we offer something more akin to prison labor … Voluntary labor, and a very small wage, in exchange for housing and food and medical care. Could we offer that, in camps especially set up for that?

And what would be the long-term situation there? Would this be temporary? Or would this be a semi-permanent situation?

As I see it, in North Korea … although I haven’t done much research on it, the problem is intractable, long-term, incurable poverty …

I have this public domain quote from the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, with regard to the grim facts of the North Korean economy:

“North Korea, one of the world’s most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment, shortages of spare parts, and poor maintenance. Large-scale military spending and development of its ballistic missile and nuclear program severely draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Industrial and power outputs have stagnated for years at a fraction of pre-1990 levels. Frequent weather-related crop failures aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems, including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, poor soil quality, insufficient fertilization, and persistent shortages of tractors and fuel.

“The mid 1990s through mid 2000s were marked by severe famine and widespread starvation. Significant food aid was provided by the international community through 2009. Since that time, food assistance has declined significantly. In the last few years, domestic corn and rice production has improved, although domestic production does not fully satisfy demand. A large portion of the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions. Since 2002, the government has allowed semi-private markets to begin selling a wider range of goods, allowing North Koreans to partially make up for diminished public distribution system rations. It also implemented changes in the management process of communal farms in an effort to boost agricultural output …” – CIA World Factbook, North Korea, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html … public domain

… and, rather than asking people, who have nothing, for taxes, instead they’re conscripting people into forced labor situations for nothing … for free … to help with government projects …

… North Korea is a source country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; many North Korean workers recruited to work abroad under bilateral contracts with foreign governments, most often Russia and China, are subjected to forced labor and do not have a choice in the work the government assigns them, are not free to change jobs, and face government reprisals if they try to escape or complain to outsiders; tens of thousands of North Koreans, including children, held in prison camps are subjected to forced labor, including logging, mining, and farming; many North Korean women and girls, lured by promises of food, jobs, and freedom, have migrated to China illegally to escape poor social and economic conditions only to be forced into prostitution, domestic service, or agricultural work through forced marriages.” – CIA World Factbook, North Korea, in the section “Transnational Issues,” subheading “Trafficking in persons,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html … public domain

So the ‘forcing of labor’ in North Korea, I feel to be a substitute for the coined tax system … It’s more like a ‘barter’ tax, you know? It’s not a totally evil thing. It’s a necessary thing there, where everyone faces starvation whenever there’s a drought … Whenever the weather conditions are not good, everyone faces starvation.

Image: “A farmer inspects his ruined crops in famine-plagued South Hwanghae province, where a man is said to have been executed recently after being reported for eating his two children,” Damir SagolJ, Reuters, http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1250764.1359505983!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_1200/article-north-korea-hunger.jpg ..

I know that we have forced labor here in the United States, but we cushion it with other terms … more aesthetic terms … according to our ideas of how things ought to be. For instance, when North Korea has forced labor part of the year … during which the people in the towns have to work for the government  for free or for almost nothing … that has analogies to community service at, say, $40 a day, in lieu of prison time in the United States. In some locales, people are allowed to live in their homes, and ‘work off their sentence’ doing community service.

Then, I noticed in Mendocino County, California, there are various prison ‘work release’ programs … home detention, work release, and work furlough …

Link: Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office: Corrections,” http://www.mendocinosheriff.com/corrections/workrelease.html ..

Then there is prison labor, where inmates have the voluntary option to work … for less than $1 an hour …

Link: “How Much Do Incarcerated People Earn in Each State?” by Wendy Sawyer, 10 April 2017,  https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/04/10/wages/ ..

And so, I’m thinking that something like this might be good if, for lack of funds, we have to release the prison population. For those who are ‘unregenerate’ … to use an old-time term … work camps might be set up, in which they could do ‘forced labor’ … or ‘community service’ …. whatever you want to call it …

I seem to recall that, in China, they think of forced labor as a way of educating people with regard to the work ethic … inculcating a notion of being productive members of society. And we might consider it like that too.

Thus, as a form of education in the worth ethic, if we can’t house the felons in prisons, we could house them in work camps. Or, as an alternative, out in the wilderness … Care of the Santa Monica Mountains might be one such possibility. Another might be the option to become a free person, or a semi-free person, in an occupation that is far from the general public … where the released prisoners can’t hurt the general public. ‘Rough’ occupations such as lumberjacking, or tramp steamer crew, for instance. Maybe, work in the mines, or in the deserts.

I think that, in terms of employment in the general community, and integration in the general community, the likelier group of people is the homeless people who are looking for work and don’t have Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or like that. Those people, I feel, will fit in better with the general population than will felons with many offenses. I feel very firmly that, in many cases, felons with many offenses are looking for violent work, and not looking to integrate into the general community. They fall into the category ‘antisocial personalities’. And they’re going to need special care, and special healing. They need to be kept away from the general population.

And I think that, to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS from the prison population into the general population, we ought to allow … starting right now … conjugal visits in our prisons. That will help those prisoners who are heterosexual to continue in heterosexual, perhaps long-time-paired, relationships when they get out of prison.

In the prisons, HIV tests might be used to separate the HIV-positive prison populations … and the HIV-positive prison guards … physically, from those guards prisoners who are HIV-negative. These tests need to be performed every 6 months, as I understand it, and also one month after possible exposure to the virus; these tests might be made routine in prison medical facilities, for the sake of the infectible law-abiding populations upon whom prisoners might prey, either as prostitutes or as sexual predators, after their release.

Also, there’s the issue of the waves of homeless people, some of whom have people, and some of whom have not. Those who have money, but not enough to get by … to be housed … those people just need low-cost housing. And I believe that’s in the works, in Los Angeles.

But those people who have no jobs, or who have addictions, are going to need other kinds of services. I suggest, as one alternative for them, work camps … with outreach to get better jobs. The work camps would provide a wage similar to that in prison, in exchange for health care, housing, and food. And they could use the money that they get for incidentals. And then, the work camp staff could be on the constant lookout for better paid employment for them

For those that are suffering from addictions, that’s a totally different situation. They ought to be housed apart. And we ought to do what we can to help them stabilize their health.

To return to the situation in North Korea, which, in some ways, is analogous to that devolving in California: Apparently, there are masses of people in North Korea, whom the government forces into forced labor in China … or the people may flee there themselves to escape starvation …

“… North Korea does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government continued to participate in human trafficking through its use of domestic forced labor camps and the provision of forced labor to foreign governments through bilateral contracts; officials did not demonstrate any efforts to address human trafficking through prosecution, protection, or prevention measures; no known investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of trafficking offenders or officials complicit in trafficking-related offenses were conducted; the government also made no efforts to identify or protect trafficking victims and did not permit NGOs to assist victims (2015) …” – CIA World Factbook, North Korea, in the section “Transnational Issues,” subheading “Trafficking in persons,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html … public domain

“… risking arrest, imprisonment, and deportation, tens of thousands of North Koreans cross into China to escape famine, economic privation, and political oppression … – CIA World Factbook, North Korea, in the section “Transnational Issues,” subheading “International disputes,” https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html … public domain

And those types of labor available to the trafficked peoples are really beneath the level of misery that’s acceptable here in the United States …

PDF file: “Trafficking in Persons Report June 2017,” United States of America Department of State, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271339.pdf ..

It might be prostitution. It might be illegal activities such as theft. It might be begging. They might be held by gangs that are ‘beneath the law’ and forced to be members of those gangs.

This, to me, is unacceptable. And the situation is analogous, in some regards, to the situation with immigrants from Mexico. They’re not force by the United States government into that kind of labor, but they may find themselves in that kind of situation … In dug-out caves in the Earth … living in that way, for instance. And doing seasonal, migrant labor. Or young women or children may find themselves forced into lives of prostitution by pimps.

(There is another large group of people, here in the United States, that shares this burden. That is the felons released from prison, whether through well-intentioned rehab programs, or left to fend for themselves. I feel that a careful look at the post-release lives of  male felons may reveal that male, or cross-dressed, or transgender prostitution may be a source of livelihood.)

So, considering the harsh reality of the existence of illegal immigrant people housed in the dirt, and working in the Earth: What can we do, starting from ground zero, to improve that situation?

Can we provide for them, a favela-type existence?

Image: “The favelas of Niteroi, Brazil – March 2011,” https://i.pinimg.com/736x/78/b4/02/78b402c949b17c32daacd2918c6ff2db–favelas-brazil.jpg ..

Image: “Favelas,” https://www.pinterest.com/alinefouard/favelas/ ..

If cardboard, packing crate, or old-tire housing works for the unhomed in Tijuana, maybe we could provide that type of housing here …

Image: “Tijuana Houses: Slums and City,” https://i.pinimg.com/originals/aa/2a/b2/aa2ab250bc938f04d2da53d11c090dac.jpg ..

Are we able to rummage through our landfills, and find building materials that they can use? Is this a possibility?

Might we establish a free zone, where they can build and squat? And might we haul in building materials from our dumps so that they can use them?

Then there is the issue of drinking water for the illegal immigrants, for the homeless, and for those without a source of income. This is like the issue of drinking water faced in India …

Link: “Why Informal Water Sellers Are Key to India’s Future,” by Kavitha Rajagopalan, 28 December 2015, https://www.citylab.com/life/2015/12/why-informal-water-sellers-are-key-to-indias-future/421950/ ..

Maybe here in the United States, as in India, private water sellers could step in, and provide inexpensive drinking water for those in desperate need of it?

It’s possible that the slow roll of the HIV pandemic will provide relief from the housing crisis over time … over the next 10 or 20 years. But in the meantime, since we have an insoluble housing problem, let’s start from what we’re able to do, rather than what we think we ought to do … And provide some form of housing, no matter how humble, for our unhoused population.

In love, light and joy,
I Am of the Stars

Video: “Everyone In–Supportive Housing Across L.A.,” by Everyone In LA, 3 March 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=QnZWabk8mO0 ..

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California economy, social unrest, law enforcement, human rights, forced labor, homeless, jobless, homelessness, joblessness, felons, prisons, rehabilitation, HIV, AIDS, prostitution, illegal occupations, work camps, drinking water, housing, favelas, alternative housing, Mexican-United States relations, immigrant workers, illegal immigrants, addiction, SSI, economics, social issues, human trafficking, Chinese forced labor, North Korean forced labor, prison labor, community service, home detention, work release,  work furlough, HIV pandemic, AIDS,

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