Your Home Is Your Prison: How to Lock Down Your Neighborhood, Your Country, and You

Yves here. This post describes a particularly ugly face of the ever-increasing levels of surveillance to which we are all being subjected, namely new tools for monitoring criminals, including those whose cases looked weak or politically motivated. But its not just that surveillance is being used as an alternative to prison. In 2012, two school districts in Houston were already requiring students to wear electronic tags. And as this article warns, pre-crime is coming too.

By Maya Schenwar, the author of the new book Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better. She is the editor-in-chief of Truthout. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, the New Jersey Star-Ledger, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @mayaschenwar. Originally published at TomDispatch

On January 27th, domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander will walk out of Florida’s Duval County jail — but she won’t be free.

Alexander, whose case has gained some notoriety, endured three years of jail time and a year of house arrest while fighting off a prison sentence that would have seen her incarcerated for the rest of her life — all for firing a warning shot that injured no one to fend off her abusive husband. Like many black women before her, Alexander was framed as a perpetrator in a clear case of self-defense. In November, as her trial date drew close, Alexander accepted a plea deal that will likely give her credit for time served, requiring her to spend “just” 65 more days in jail. Media coverage of the development suggested that Alexander would soon have her “freedom,” that she would be “coming home.”

Many accounts of the plea deal, however, missed what Alexander will be coming home to: she’ll return to “home detention” — house arrest — for two years.

In other words, an electronic monitor, secured around her ankle at all times, will track her every movement. Alexander will also be paying $105 per week to the state in monitoring fees, as is the custom in Florida and more than a dozen other states.

Such a situation is certainly preferable to being caged in a prison cell. However, does Alexander’s release — and that of others in her shoes — mean freedom? In reality, an ever-growing number of cages are proliferating around us, even if they assume forms that look nothing like our standard idea of a cage.

As mass incarceration is falling out of fashion — it’s been denounced by figures across the political spectrum from Eric Holder to Newt Gingrich — a whole slate of “alternatives to incarceration” has arisen. From electronic monitoring and debilitating forms of probation to mandatory drug testing and the sort of “predictive policing” that turns communities of color into open-air prisons, these alternatives are regularly presented as necessary “reforms” for a broken system.

It’s worth remembering, however, that when the modern prison emerged in the late eighteenth century, it, too, was promoted as a “reform,” a positive replacement for corporal or capital punishment. Early prison reformers — many of them Quakers bent on repentance and redemption — suggested that cutting people off from the rest of the world would bring them closer to God. (The word “penitentiary” comes, of course, from “penitence.”)

An oppressive version of surveillance played a central role in this vision, as in British reformer Jeremy Bentham’s famed Panopticon, a model prison in which inspectors would be able to view prisoners at any moment, day or night, while themselves remaining invisible.  If the ultimate Panopticon never quite came into existence, Bentham’s idea profoundly influenced the development of the prison as a place in which, for the prisoner, no time or space was inviolable and privacy was a fiction.

As an idea, the Panopticon remains embedded in our notion of state discipline. Now, it is spreading out of the prison and into the neighborhood and the home, which is hardly surprising in a society in which surveillance and monitoring are becoming the accepted norms of everyday life. Like the plans of the early reformers, many current prison “reforms” share a common element: they perpetuate the fantasy that new forms of confinement, isolation, and surveillance will somehow set us all free.

At first glance, these alternatives may seem like a “win-win.” Instead of taking place in a hellish institution, prison happens “in the comfort of your own home” (the ultimate American ad for anything). However, this change threatens to transform the very definition of “home” into one in which privacy, and possibly “comfort” as well, are subtracted from the equation. Perhaps the best example is the electronic monitor, an imprisonment device that is attached to the body at all times.

Electronic Monitoring

House arrest has long been used to quell political resistance. By confining people to their homes, repressive governments are able to weaken an oppositional figure’s ties to the world, while allowing the authorities to know where the confined person is at every moment. From St. Paul to the deposed pro-democracy Iranian president Mohammad Mosaddegh, Galileo to Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, dissidents and nonconformists have long watched their homes become their prisons.

However, the rise of new technologies — in particular, electronic monitoring — has allowed the practice of home confinement to become widespread. Nowadays, if you’re under house arrest, there are no longer armed guards circling the premises.  Instead, the “guards” are satellites, their gaze always present, and they don’t even blink.

Appropriately enough, electronic monitoring was introduced in 1984. Since then, it has been used for an ever-expanding range of purposes, including pretrial confinement, parole, and probation, or simply as a punishment in and of itself. Monitoring has put new populations under state control, expanding the range of people who are confined in this country. According to an analysis in the Journal of Law and Policy, most of those placed on electronic monitors haven’t committed serious or violent offenses and, were it not for monitoring, “at least some of these populations would not in fact be incarcerated or otherwise under physical control.”

In prison, the loss of one’s civil liberties is glaringly apparent. The strip search, the cell sweep, and the surveillance of letters, phone calls, and visits are givens. For those whose homes have been “prisonized,” however, basic constitutional rights also crumble. Probationers and monitorees are subject to warrantless searches and drug tests; probation officers have ready access to their homes. In fact, though seldom thought of this way, the ankle monitor is essentially a constant, warrantless search.

As research scholar James Kilgore notes, for those being monitored, “the default position in most instances is house arrest” and therefore they’re often more restricted than their counterparts in jails and prisons. Incarcerated people have daily quotas for calories and are usually granted a certain amount of outdoor exercise time (however miserable the food or outdoor facilities may be). Under house arrest, neither of those protections apply. Similarly, prisoners are usually granted the right to access legal materials; this guarantee is not a given for monitored people. 

Even probation officers have acknowledged how monitoring — both the actual physical confinement and the constant knowledge of being watched — seeps into each moment of a confined person’s daily life. A Department of Justice study, for example, found that, with the visible ankle monitor acting as a “scarlet letter,” those permitted to go to work had a difficult time finding or holding jobs. That’s a problem in itself, since it’s well known that gaining employment is a crucial step in avoiding future offenses. Full-scale house arrest, however, locks people into a life of stasis and boredom, inhibiting their ability to connect with loved ones or form new bonds — crucial factors in building a sustainable life.

Eighty-nine percent of probation officers surveyed by the Justice Department felt that “offenders’ relationships with their significant others changed because of being monitored.” Both officers and those monitored observed that the ankle band had a distinct impact on children.  As one parent testified, “When it beeps, the kids worry about whether the probation officer is coming to take me to jail. The kids run for it when it beeps.” Another noted that his child repeatedly strapped a watch around his ankle “to be like Daddy.”

Beyond the physical and emotional burdens, those under monitoring often pay for their confinement in the most literal possible fashion. As Marissa Alexander discovered in Florida, private companies often exact fees from the people they’re imprisoning. They average around $10-$15 per day — in addition to installation costs and fees imposed for drug tests or other “services.” Those unable to pay may be re-incarcerated in a cycle that harkens back to debtor’s prison.

By the end of her sentence, Alexander will have spent $16,420 on her own imprisonment and constant surveillance.

Probation and Drug Testing

You don’t, however, have to be hooked up to a fancy monitoring device to find yourself paying for your confinement. As probation is increasingly contracted out to private companies — in Georgia, for example, 40% of probation services are privatized — many non-monitored probationers are subject to steep fees and failure to pay such probation costs might also result in jail time. 

This phenomenon, dubbed “offender-funded probation” has recently become ever more popular. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch revealed that 1,000 courts in at least 12 states now employ it in a twisted mix of budget-tightening, privatization, and corporatization. As author and organizer Kay Whitlock writes, “This industry is built upon disdain for poor and low-income people, and a determination that their wretchedly limited resources should not only support the illusion of administration of justice but simultaneously provide private business owners and courts with new revenue.”

With nearly four million people on probation in this country, what an increasingly “offender-funded” system would look like is coming into focus: state coffers would be filled with dollars from those with the most meager resources, while the threat of debtor’s prison would hang over the heads of those who don’t or simply can’t comply. In addition, despite their rhetoric about “correction” and “rehabilitation,” for-profit enterprises are actually driven by the distinctly for-profit urge to keep people in the system, while bringing in ever more of them.

In addition to monitoring and probation, mandated drug tests are another standard item that can be turned into a cash cow. Most people ensnared in the criminal justice system (whether incarcerated or on supervised release) are required to undergo regular drug testing, regardless of whether their offense is drug-related. Companies now charge about $25 per test, meaning that a person serving a year-long probation sentence is likely to be saddled with a $1,250 drug-testing bill.

Moreover, drug testing is helping to expand the criminal system into new areas of society. Thanks to decades of drug-war policies, the tests have entered schools, hospitals, workplaces, and the welfare system — and testing positive can result in serious punishment, including surveillance and confinement. One in five high schools now use drug tests and many punish a “dirty drop” with loss of extracurricular activities or even expulsion from school.

As the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals noted decades ago, “there are few activities in our society more personal or private than the passing of urine.” Yet in many circumstances, from workplaces to law enforcement probation visits, people being tested are not only listened to, but also watched as they urinate. The Minnesota Department of Corrections, for instance, gives these instructions to its probation and parole staff: “Staff must… position himself/herself in such a manner as to verify the specimen passes directly from the offender’s body into the specimen collection container.”

Such drug tests are also used by child protective services agencies during home visits to surveil parents, overwhelmingly mothers of color and particularly black mothers. A failed drug test may result in the removal of children from the home — regardless of whether the drug use is affecting the parenting abilities of the user.

During the drug-war years, unlike the other ways in which we relate to our bodies and our health, drug use has become fair game for policing and state surveillance. No state intervention can mandate that you stop eating gluten or quit smoking cigarettes or undergo chemotherapy, but we have come to accept the idea that outside authorities may monitor, control, and punish your choice to use certain drugs — and rampant drug testing is a graphic manifestation of that. Like any health-related blood or urine test, drug testing is not inherently bad, but its widespread, mandatory, and invasive deployment by the state is unique among health procedures. It is the only routine medical test that can land you in jail.

As public approval of drug-war-fueled mass incarceration ebbs, however, it’s important to remember that the drug “battlefield” now extends well beyond the prison and that privacy violations once reserved for jails and drug treatment centers are now common in places where privacy was once a given.

Predictive Policing

Perhaps the most prevalent prison-outside-of-prison version of incarceration happens before, not after, arrest. It’s what anti-police-violence activist Joseph “Jazz” Hayden calls “open-air prisons” — that is, the intensification of policing and surveillance in poor neighborhoods of color.

As a growing national movement has made clear recently, in many black and brown communities police are a feared source of violence, not an answer to it. A recent Pew survey showed that black Americans are much less likely than whites to believe that police protect them from crime.  Only 31% of black respondents believed that the police were “good” or “excellent” at protecting their safety and for just 6% were they “good” at “using the right amount of force for each situation.”

Yet when right-wing advocates against mass incarceration opt for a new approach, they tend to support approaches that lead to identifying certain areas (homes, blocks, schools, neighborhoods) as “crime hotspots,” and cramming them with law enforcement and surveillance. Right on Crime, a Texas-based “prison reform” group which Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, and many other conservative luminaries promote, calls for using money saved from reducing prison populations to expand “data-driven policing” and, in the process, increase the use of electronic monitoring and private security firms.

Case in point: a method called “predictive policing” is increasingly gaining favor with right-wing “reformers.” Appropriately enough, as reporter Aaron Cantú documents, the very concept was birthed by a private company called PredPol. As the ACLU of Massachusetts notes, this technique “essentially applies the Total Information Awareness approach to policing.” That means drawing upon large pools of surveillance, arrest, and other data to develop “algorithms” to determine when and where a crime might happen in the future. The use of historical arrest data ensures, of course, that police presences will intensify in places that are already most heavily patrolled and where the most arrests occur: poor neighborhoods of color.

As that ACLU report observes:

“If police arrested lots of bankers and lawyers for cocaine use and for hiring expensive sex workers, we might see predictive policing algorithms sending cops to patrol rich suburbs or fancy hotels in downtown areas. Instead, the algorithms simply reproduce the unjust policing system we’ve got.”

In recent years, as the barriers between local law enforcement and the country’s intelligence agencies have broken down, opportunities for race-based targeting within communities have multiplied. For example, under the banner of counterterrorism, national and local outfits have colluded in intensifying the surveillance of Arabs and Muslims. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes the dissemination of “suspicious activity reports” through national police and intelligence networks with titles like “Suspicious ME [Middle Eastern] Males Buy Several Large Pallets of Water.” In this way, “predicting” crime falls in line with racial and religious profiling.

Current applications of the “predictive policing” strategy usually involve expanding surveillance and data collection and increasing the number of police clustered in certain locations. However, the predictive software may be used in more aggressive ways in the future. In Albuquerque, for example, police have begun using the software to flag “bait” items, such as copper wire and cars, placing them in targeted neighborhoods. If the items are taken, arrests can be made on the spot or police can continue to track them (and the people who’ve taken them), enlarging the area that is directly surveilled.

Even some of the “reforms” being proposed in response to racist police violence carry the potential to be used against the public in ways that expand the bounds of who is watched and when. The body cameras that President Obama proposes all police wear face outward. As constitutional lawyer Shahid Buttar notes, they monitor anyone who crosses their path, including people suspected of no crime, “without the individual basis for suspicion constitutionally required to justify a police search.”

Buttar warns that this uptick in public surveillance could actually fuel incarceration. Constant video footage means more opportunities to convict people of the small “crimes” occurring all the time, from jaywalking to selling loose cigarettes to causing a public disturbance. The more convictions, the more potential for punishment — and the more opportunities for confinement.

Sex Offender Registries

Although the left-leaning among us may respond to secret data collection and hidden cameras with a visceral aversion, some other strategies that cage people are not so firmly installed on the list of liberal no-nos. Electronic monitoring, house arrest, and targeted policing number among these. Another such mechanism generally condoned or even championed by liberals is the sex offender registry. Yet placement on a registry is a sure ticket to imprisonment-outside-of-prison, sometimes for life. In most states, the minimum duration before you can get off a sex offender registry is at least a decade; in some states, it’s forever.

In 2013, Sable, an incarcerated Pennsylvania woman and mother of three young children, was gearing up for release. Three years earlier, when she was 24, she had been convicted of “statutory sexual assault” — carrying on a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy. In some ways, she was looking forward to leaving prison. In others, she was dreading it.

Release, she wrote me, would look nothing like freedom.  She would, she explained, be required to avoid cell phones and the Internet. She’d be banned from contact with minors — including her own children. Beyond these tangible restrictions, she was terrified of a more amorphous kind of imprisonment, what she referred to as “the stigma I will live with for the next 22 years.” In Pennsylvania, anyone convicted of a sex offense spends the next quarter-century on a sex offender registry. She anticipated the fear, rejection, or even violence she might face from neighbors, prospective employers, and possible friends.

Sex offender registries are a relatively recent phenomenon. They became widespread in the 1990s in the wake of several high-profile abductions, rapes, and murders of children. Though there’s no evidence that the registries actually prevent sexual assault, they now exist in every state and have been codified into federal law.

To question their use is not to diminish the gravity of sexual violence. Rather, their lack of effectiveness in assault prevention, their grounding premise that ongoing punishment is appropriate long after imprisonment has ended, and their gathering up of those convicted of a wide range of offenses — from sex work (as outlined by scholar Erica Meiners) to the receipt of pornography — should give us pause, no matter how distasteful many of the registrants’ crimes may be.

In numerous states, the whole registry is available for search on the Internet, complete with mug shots and addresses. In some states, that includes juveniles.

Josh Gravens, a prison reform activist and Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow, was arrested at age 12 for having had sexual contact with his eight-year-old sister. He recently wrote in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange that, despite three and a half years in juvenile prison and four years on parole, “by far the worst penalty I experienced was being placed on the Texas Sex Offender Registry.” As an adult, Gravens faced evictions, a near-impossible quest for employment, and a giant, pervasive stigma against him and his family. “As it stands today,” he writes, “the registry harms far more children than it protects.”

As monitoring and intrusion become more prevalent, they are normalized and become expectable, built into the fabric of how we relate to other human beings.  If allowed to expand, sooner or later they also are likely to add categories of people who are not as easily dismissed by mainstream culture.

In a world of electronic monitors, predictive policing, interagency data sharing, hidden cameras, and registries, imprisonment extends not only beyond the walls of the jail or penitentiary, but beyond any contained space. In the new world of incarceration, your house is your prison.  Your block is your prison. Your school is your prison. Your neighborhood… your city… your state… your country is your prison.

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  1. prostratedragon

    Ce n’est pas un satire:

    Interviewer: Nevertheless, Mr. Helpmann, there are those who maintain that the Ministry of Information has become too large and unwieldy…And the cost of it all, Deputy Minister? Seven percent of the gross national product.

    Mr. Helpmann: I understand this concern on behalf of the tax payers. People want value for money. That’s why we always insist on the principle of Information Retrieval charges. It’s absolutely right and fair that those found guilty should pay for their periods of detention and for the Information Retrieval Procedures used in their interrogation.

    Video source

  2. Sam Kanu

    “…In other words, an electronic monitor, secured around her ankle at all times, will track her every movement. Alexander will also be paying $105 per week to the state in monitoring fees, as is the custom in Florida and more than a dozen other states….”

    Wow. This is basically neo-slavery:
    – digital chain on your leg
    – required to pay fees for your own virtual imprisonment
    – required to work as part of “probation”, with options basically down to sub-living wage for a casual labour agency
    – break any of conditions and you get sent back to a penal colony

    This is America in the 21st century? Rehabilitation not even on the radar here.

    What this country needs is a genuine reform movement like has happened at periods in the past.

  3. rusti

    Perhaps the best example is the electronic monitor, an imprisonment device that is attached to the body at all times.

    Not to minimize the gravity of the post and the seriousness of electronic imprisonment, but I had something of a revelation in a previous job where I was working for a company providing hardware for mobile phones. After a few years of supporting customers building mobile phones, USB internet dongles and telematics systems for cars, I had a visit from a customer I was surprised to learn was building ankle monitors.

    When looking at an electrical schematic a cellular phone and an ankle bracelet are virtually identical, the only major difference is the display. They use the same chipsets and the same firmware, just a different mechanical housing.

    Maybe the industrial prison complex will start pre-loading them with Angry Birds to combat their PR problem of scaring children.

      1. rusti

        The only advantage I can see when carrying a stupid phone is that it isn’t so intricately linked with your various Internet accounts adding one thin layer of obscurity. For example, there’s no search history as you try to find your way to something in a new city using maps or correlating emails with locations.

        But from a hardware and firmware perspective, it really is the same radio chipset running the same software. In many cases, we sold exactly the same hardware for smartphones and stupid phones with some “E-fuses” blown to disable functionality to target different price segments without the additional overhead costs of qualifying different pieces of silicon. Even dumb phones are required to have GPS location for E911 services. Easy enough to associate the phone with the person regardless of what type so long as you know which subscriber (phone number) they have.

        I still carry my phone most everywhere, but I might think twice if I lived in the US and was someone interesting enough for the G-man to keep tabs on.

      2. Larry

        I would suspect that stupid phone users have reasons to be worried as well. If I remember correctly, there was positional awareness of the early dumb phones that was advertised as a feature. If you called 911 the authorities were supposed to be able to find you even if you could not describe your location. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that a unique identifying code could be used to track your location approximately by the cell towers you pass. Though others more technically inclined in this space can tell me if I’m wrong on this count.

        1. rusti

          My other comment with a bit more detail is churning its way through moderation, but you’re correct. GPS integration for Enhanced 9-1-1 is the feature you describe and has been mandatory for many years for phones in the U.S. market.

        2. Jerry Denim

          I can’t remember the exact year but I believe it was the year 2000. Congress passed a law in the late nineties requiring ALL wireless handsets sold in the United States after the year 2000 ( +/- ?) to have a GPS tracking and monitoring device that could not be disabled by the user. The reason the government used for this supposed public safety measure was a woman in Florida drowned while trapped in her overturned car that was in a ditch. The story was she was able to call 911 for help, but she did not know her own whereabouts and therefore perished before she could be located. All the fault of her phone of course.

          The dubious scenario was one in a million but the problem with the ‘for-your-own-safety’ story was cell phone positions could easily be triangulated by the phone providers at the time by measuring the phone’s distance from the three closest cell towers. The results were more than accurate enough to find an overturned car with first responders but perhaps not good enough to pinpoint a house or the position of a perp in a particular room. I worked with cell phones in the mid-late nineties and I would say non-GPS aided triangulation was accurate to about a one-hundered yard radius.

          Be it a home monitoring system, OnStar, LoJack, or a refrigerator that can call for service or tell you you’re low on milk, people always think they’re buying safety and convenience but they’re really selling their privacy, anonymity, autonomy and eventually freedom. Its always the same.

          Never mind what you’re buying, its what you’re selling.

  4. Katniss Everdeen

    “If police arrested lots of bankers and lawyers for cocaine use and for hiring expensive sex workers, we might see predictive policing algorithms sending cops to patrol rich suburbs or fancy hotels in downtown areas. Instead, the algorithms simply reproduce the unjust policing system we’ve got.”

    “This industry is built upon disdain for poor and low-income people, and a determination that their wretchedly limited resources should not only support the illusion of administration of justice but simultaneously provide private business owners and courts with new revenue.”

    The money quotes, as far as I’m concerned.

    Couldn’t help wondering how much support ankle monitor as “scarlet letter” or “data driven policing” would have garnered if they’d been deployed against pedophile catholic priests or college football locker rooms ala Penn State. Or the entire college and university greek system, for that matter.

    But I guess it just wouldn’t DO to have an excessive police presence harm the reputations of these venerable institutions.

    PS. As a resident of Florida, home of George Zimmerman and resting place of Trayvon Martin, I’m still trying to figure out what obscure and arcane “law” Marissa Alexander “broke.” Other than being a poor, black abused woman with children, I mean.

  5. jgordon

    My feeling is that the level of danger is inexorably, if gradually, creeping up for average people in America. The powers that be won’t be satisfied until everyone (possibly excepting some of the elite) is criminalized, marginalized, and watched every second. Damn, I’m getting my passport tomorrow.

  6. kevinearick

    Empire Catapult Construction

    As you may recall, this is where I came in…

    How do you look at both sides of the fulcrum simultaneously? What does that tell you about R,C,L,P,V & T? What is time and frequency?

    The empire physicists, trained to prove that labor is replaceable, with a machine, building and destroying middle classes for the purpose, are trying to buck the Euro against the Dollar, again, and failing, because both are based upon self-biased civil regulation and so-projected data to implement monetary policy, ignorance chasing idle capacity as a virtue, hoarding, playing last to lose.

    Fostering a competition for government grants within artificial borders, debt, and real estate inflation across those borders, devaluation, to the end of natural resource exploitation, is the common feudal control system, the irrational assumption that the planet is stupid, not an economy. If you are going to enter the casino, bet accordingly. As History demonstrates repeatedly, disposable empires cast labor forward when the climate changes, across the resulting natural output gap.

    All real work, recharging the battery, gets done in zero time, privacy, which the empire eliminates for the sake of discharge. Popularity measures present efficiency relative to the past, ignoring opportunity cost in the future, repeating the process until all ends badly. Social classes voting to pay themselves in debt and devaluation, blaming each other for outcomes, and governed by increasingly arbitrary scapegoat administrators, growing income disparity, is no accident. In the empire, stupid is the premium.

    Those monitoring devices are not prototyped in a lab by accident and don’t fail in the real world by accident. And adding layers of arbitrarily programmed hedges doesn’t help. DC RLC depends upon an environment that becomes increasingly variable as it is controlled, as the consequence of unseen transient proliferation builds to threshold. Empires of ignorance and greed collapse of their own accord; you might want to position yourself ahead of the wave.

    The price of those circuit boards were supposed to fall to zero, but exploded exponentially, if you include the cost of all the middlemen and middlewomen participating in the layers of proprietary extortion. And gold doesn’t work any better than digital or fiat, because the feudal moneychangers control all three, all of which can be replaced with a stick.

    Empires are demographic ponzies, with living standards that can only fall with demographic deceleration. Managing false flags in a cloud computing system, with a master and slave for everyone, Wilma telling Fred how to move rocks, and Fred telling Wilma how to have babies, from the other side of the planet, competing for equality, only increases deceleration, participants losing the ability to reproduce, trying to control yours.

    The global middle class is caught in a trap of its own construction, issuing arbitrary pieces of paper to those that comply with peer pressure review, pointing fingers at scapegoats that no longer suffice. If every banker were fired, nothing would change. Good luck with that approach, as global discovery pops misdirection off the stack, in a game of last to lose, avoiding responsibility with isms. Congratulations, everyone wins a welfare check.

    All monetary theories are internally inconsistent, requiring increasing militarization, debt and devaluation to enforce, until they blow up. Of course Germany is in an untenable position again. Driving others into poverty with usurious loans doesn’t make you better or worse than those accepting the loans with no ability to repay. There is only an exit if you are the exit, and East Germany is not the exit. You trade currency every day; practice discounting.

    The perception of a closed system chokes itself to death every time, by design, in a get-them-before-they-get-you competition for artificially scarce resources. Energy use has been falling for some time, despite artificial variability in price and every other measure employed to sustain it, by Democrats and Republicans alike, while climate variability continues to rise. All empires grow hysteresis.

    Welfare checks for babies is the worst trade in the system, a signal to be noticed. Build the meter, not the supercollider, and the gate will present itself. SPICE and code libraries are not the answer, for what should be obvious reasons. Why would intelligent people allow others to set the price of currency at their location, and if they cannot settle their own affairs how can voting be anything other than a scam?

    Let the critters focus on free income from real estate inflation, while you focus on wages to rent and time in the empire, giving the empire an identity to track with 10% of your time, instead of complying and rebelling 90% of the time. Flip the empire on its head, by filtering out stupid.

    Empires breed emotion to replace love. If you wouldn’t go to a court of law looking for love, why would you drop your children off at any public institution, the derivatives, expecting love. Rebelling against a buffer is a waste of time. Jealousy, a jury of empire peers, breeding poverty among children, does not produce good economic results. Love is not an emotion; it’s an action, which is why the government’s war on poverty produces poverty, growing income disparity, which it hides with inflation, until it can’t.

  7. Bill Frank

    This is 2015 America. As the rigged economic system further impoverishes the masses, control over the masses will become more critical for the elite. Prison for the most “dangerous” and 24/7 monitoring for all the other “troublemakers.” Drones will also play an important role to lock in control. Well, I’m sure we can resolve these matters when we cast our ballot in 2016. Happy MLK day.

    1. mk

      I wonder what will happen when a police officer kills an unarmed person remotely by drone, they won’t be able to say “I was afraid for my life.”

  8. Jay M

    Given the masses of homeless people in my city, I fail to see how this version of the justice system could apply to them. “You have to stay under the overpass 24/7, buddy”. Perhaps this accounts for attempts to banish homeless from certain locales, proscribe public feeding, outlaw venues for begging. If you have no resources, is the alternative perpetual prison? What address does the homeless sex-offender give for 22 years while sleeping under a bridge? GPS location accepted by this incarceration system?

  9. Re School surveillance

    Re School surveillance

    Progressive California actually beat its fellow Top Five Gross Domestic Product ‘producer,’ Texas, by years – in terms of both: attempted, or ‘successful,’ surveillance of students; and the age at which it was attempted/instituted. Of course it was imposed on either rural or poverty ridden communities:

    02/10/05 SUTTER COUNTY [California] / Students kept under surveillance at school / Some parents angry over radio device

    Located between the massive silos of Sutter Rice Co. and the Sutter Buttes, this small town has 587 kindergarten through eighth-graders who are the first public school kids in the country to be tracked on campus by such a system, which is designed to ease attendance taking and increase campus security.

    Reportedly, the parents won in in having the RFID surveillance removed, in the above instance.

    091210 Misguided use of microchip technology

    The child-tracking initiative is called Child Location, Observation and Utilization Data System (CLOUDS). This summer, the first part of the system was installed at the George Miller III Center in Richmond, which provides free or reduced-cost child care under the federal Head Start program. About 200 students between the ages of 3 and 5 were assigned basketball jerseys that were embedded with the electronic locator chips. The idea is that the tracking devices are a quick way to take attendance. They also send signals to administrators whenever a child strays out of his or her assigned area.

    Officials applied for – and received – the substantial amount of money it takes to create such a program (it cost $50,000 to set up the Miller site) from the federal stimulus act [1] . We don’t understand why the federal government agreed to this. If anything, this is a misuse of technology that federal officials should have stopped. But Contra Costa officials also should have done their homework on the history of these devices in California – and about the very real privacy and safety concerns that they’ve created.

    [1] The total amount of Stimulus Funds! received was reportedly $115k.

    (Speaking of which, anyone aware of a detailed listing anywhere which might show how much of the failed Stimulus funding went towards surveillance systems – would rather not wait for the book to come out 2 decades late? The last I searched, there was no listing; though, to be sure, there is (at least was) a detailed list in some government databank/Amazon cloud.)

  10. ReSchoolsurveillance

    Sorry for that incomplete bolding in that last quoted paragraph (comment 10), had intended to bold thusly:

    Officials applied for – and received – the substantial amount of money it takes to create such a program (it cost $50,000 to set up the Miller site) from the federal stimulus act [1] . We don’t understand why the federal government agreed to this. If anything, this is a misuse of technology that federal officials should have stopped.


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