NPR reports that Arizona’s fascist immigration law was cooked up and in large part written by the private prison industry in the state, which saw dollar signs every time they glimpsed a Latina maid or Latino garage mechanic whose papers might not be in order. I hope Latino voters keep in mind that the Republican Party was a willing accomplice.
If the Arizona story sounds like a hard-boiled noir detective novel, it is no accident. Dashiell Hammett’s dark view of human nature was formed in the teens of the last century when he worked as a Pinkerton (we would now say private security guard). He quit when he was offered $5000 to murder union leader Frank Little. He refused, but Little was nevertheless executed, probably by masked Pinkerton agents, in Butte Montana a little later.
Noir is a quintessential American art form precisely because it exposes the paradox at the heart of American life, that a country founded on individual liberty has had it chipped away by unscrupulous and predatory corporations (now elevated by SCOTUS to our co-citizens!) (Not all companies are unscrupulous and predatory, but plenty are.)
Private corporations policing workers, killing union organizers, and profiting from depriving people of their liberty, have been part of the warp and woof of the United States all along. A massive scam to lock up immigrants for profit is just one more such scheme.
That American workers can so easily be pitted against one another on stupid ethnic grounds helps explain why we put up with all these shenanigans, unlike the French workers, who if they cannot stop the elite from poaching on their rights, can at least make it costly to try. The private prison executives must have laughed their asses off at the way the country swung around to support their new “law.”
It reminds me of the allegations against Dick Cheney’s private prisons in Texas, which were indicted by a grand jury for abusive practices. Cheney seems to have liked prisons. He managed to lock up 26,000 Iraqis in American military compounds, and had his cronies like Ahmad Chalabi lock up another 25,000. You wonder how many were “arrested” by the latter-day Pinkertons, the trigger-happy Blackwater agents. Prisons for personal profit– why it is an American way of life that can now be exported…