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Geography of Mutual Aid, Part 1

The article “Building A Prison Economy in Rural America” written by Tracy Huling provided information from both positive and negative impacts of establishing a prison in rural regions where economic developments seem to poorly developed. In the reading, Huling pointed out that people who support the establishment of prison facilities in rural regions see it as a mean of economic development; whereas, those against this perception see it as a form of demoralizing a community that is already suffering and can potentially hinder other investment opportunities in the area. The establishment of prisons in rural regions would not only serve as a mean of promoting a peaceful community and rehabilitating the inmates, but could also be seen as a possible medium for the creation of jobs for the local inhabitants and create the opportunity for those communities to be opened to other development opportunities to be operated by the prisons plus the cheap labor that are associated with prisoners' workforce.

The assumption that the establishment of prisons in rural areas would bring about economic development and a non-polluting industry is questionable on several fronts. Firstly, most of the people who are employed to manage the daily operations of prisons are in fact not original inhabitants of the local communities in which those prisons is situated. Secondly, prison workers have to drive several miles to work every day and this isn’t a good factor for the environment as by driving several miles seven days a week would leave a lot of carbon footprints in the environment thus contributing to global warming and climate change. Thirdly, the fact that a prison is located in a rural area will potentially scare investors wanting to come into the area. This will lead to potential employment opportunities been taken away. Fourthly, the establishment of prisons in a rural area creates economic hardships for existing inhabitants, since they have to compete with the prisoners and their officials for existing scarce and limited jobs. Prisoners are commonly known for their low pay labors. Prisoners who are paid low wages now doing jobs that should have been occupied by contracted workers either from the local community or perhaps by someone out of the community. Thus, this can evidently lead to workers displacement, dislocation and the subsequent downfall of those rural areas because residents will start relocating to other areas for better lives and greater employment opportunities.

Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is using prison as a form of business. The very fact that rural communities encourage themselves to invest into the prison business with the purpose of economic development into their areas points to how crimes in those areas start to develop. In my opinion, a rural community in the US has different means through which they can engage in a fruitful process of economic development instead of the prisons business. Some examples can be in the area of sustainable agricultural development, renewable energy investment, or the movie industry. The idea of establishing a prison to an area has more economic and social harms than goods.

A prison facility should be located in an isolated area where they can engage in various tasks associated with the sentences of inmates. I know this kind of sound weird, but prisoners committed crimes for which they are incarcerated and serving these sentences out of touch with other people outside the prison facility is prudent in the correctional process. This is why they are in prison, not for their cheap labor. Commodifying their labor could serve as a platform for people to engage in crimes and be thrown in prison just to benefit from this kind of opportunity, just as some people escape the health insurance scheme in the real world just to benefit from insurance in the prison.

The article “How Eminent Domain Ran Amok” written by Carla T. Main talks about how the government use their unexpressed powers listed in the Fifth Amendment to take private property on the premise for public use. The use of such power by the government to take away the property of its citizen is a violation of their rights to freedom, justice and equality. Those who wrote the 5th Amendments never had such intentions in their mind when they were drafting the documents. To me such takings should be associated with the implementation of facilities or resources that could be used by the general public without the motive of profiteering. Nevertheless, the takings of private property and then reselling those properties to other private corporations with the sole purpose of economic development is in contradiction to the original intent of the 'Founding Fathers.'

The article written by Nancy Fraser and Linda Gordon entitled “A Genealogy of Dependency: Tracing a Keyword of the U.S. Welfare State” is a very interesting piece to read. It states in middle of the first paragraph that “Dependency” is an incomplete state in life, which the writers suggested, that is normal in childhood and considered abnormal is adulthood. From the global perspective, this is base on cultural and social differences. In other cultures and societies where individuals in communities dependent on each other this could be considered as a productive efforts to enhance community relations, to promote survival of each other and the community at large. This is commonly practice in most developing countries where the community is an integral part of an individual’s life and development. In the United States, the decency to depend of others for survival is considered abnormal in this article and this is some how associated with weakness, laziness and burdensome to the entire community, state and the nation at large.

It is also interesting to know that while it is true that most Americans considered themselves to be independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant and productive citizens, which is true about 90% of the time, some policies instituted by the local, state and federal government do promote the very attitude and behavior that these two writers wrote about “dependency.” Some programs instituted by the local, state, and the federal government does undermine the very independent nature of most Americans and promotes the “dependency syndrome”. These programs include the welfare program, Mass Health, Financial Aid from the State and Federal Government, the Public Schools Feeding Program and Transportation systems, Medicare, Medicaid, and the new 'Obamacare fiasco'. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is one such state run agencies that seem to take the place of an incompetent family or families.

While it is true that most Americans are considered to be poor, the rate of dependency on society on the state and federal government will continue to increase exponentially. The happy few have most of the nation's wealth and the sad many have fewer of the nation's wealth thus creating the organization and implementation of these dependency programs. To me, the gap between the rich few (independent Americans) and the poor many (dependent Americans) will continue to increase exponentially and at an unprecedented rate it this current economic trend continues. The problem is an economic system that makes one group (the rich) have access to most of the resources while other group (the poor) with limited resources.


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