Law and Disorder Radio – Rick Wolff and Max Wolff on the Economic Crisis – Class Action Victory in Michigan Prison Sexual Assault Case – Hosts: Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Updates:

Settlement Victory With “We Will Not Be Silent” Shirt Worn On JetBlue Flight.

Civil Libertarians Concerned With Isolation Tactics In New Army Interrogation Guidelines

Family Planning Gag Rule Lifted

States Control Their Own Emissions, Instead of EPA

Law Reversed On Pay Equity Cases

Analysis of Current Economy and Economic Aid Package: 2009

Economists say the United States is facing it’s biggest economic crisis since World War II. In the wake of historic massive bailouts to banks, the democratic party has proposed an economic stimulus plan designed to create 3 million jobs, provide tax cuts and stimulate areas of the economy such as energy and health care.

  • Law Enforcement: $3 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance. $1 billion for community policing services.
  • General Services Administration: $6 billion for construction and repair of federal buildings.
  • $1 billion for immigration facilities at ports of entry.
  • Homeland Security: $250 million for salaries and construction at ports of entry. $500 million for purchase and installation of explosive detection systems. $150 million for alteration or removal of obstructive bridges.

 

 

 

Max Wolff:

When you look at the stimulus, it’s a kinder gentler and much larger version of what we started 12 months ago when the Bush administration realized the jig was up.

It’s nice to see some money for the electrical grid, which now isn’t even the envy of the developing world.

We need the stimulus, but we need structural change. It’s a missed opportunity, if we’re going to go this much deeper in debt.

 

We did two things wrong. We kind of nationalized the banks, without nationalizing them, and we kind of bailed out the private banks without giving them enough money.

We gave them enough money to not go bankrupt immediately but not enough to get back into the business of banking.

Then, we turned the Federal Reserve, without public discussion or Congressional debate, into a giant national central bank.

Now the Federal Reserve is getting into the business of buying US treasuries, loaning money to corporations and bailing out private banks.

To me, the lesson we should have learned is that you can’t use credit and debt to substitute for people who don’t have enough money to live and can’t make purchases above more than 2 weeks pay.

As long as that is in place we are slipping into a debt trap.

We needed to do something to bail out the banks. The bottom line is that we’re asking the banks to give more money when we have an international crisis because they’ve loaned to people who can’t pay them back.

Remember the Great Depression also involved weapons of mass destruction and the loss of more than 200 thousand lives

We need to have higher wages, which means lower profits. We need national health care immediately.

We need to import a little less. We need to export a little more.

That means ten years of economic pain, best case scenario, while you re-center the economy and teach people a different way to view their citizenship and livelihood.

You would need massive unrest, creative and constructive for fundamental change in structure

Guest – Max Fraad Wolff , freelance researcher, strategist, and writer in the areas of international finance and macroeconomics. Max’s work can be seen at the Huffington Post, The Asia Times, Prudent Bear, SeekingAlpha and many other outlets.

Professor Rick Wolff:

  • Giving a lot of money to the people who screwed up the economy is not the best recipe for fixing it.
  • A great deal of money will be given back to the people in the form of tax rebates. As we have seen people are not using tax rebates in ways that boost the economy.
  • All 50 states who refused to see the writing on the wall, will get money that will drive the same old pork barrel spending scenarios.
  • A very small amount of money will go to significant change that would begin to make a difference. We will be sitting here 6 months from now saying this didn’t work either.
  • The fundamental thing that created 30 years of crazy mis-development has been the end of rising real wages, it came to end because corporations found ways to stop paying higher wages.
  • From outsourcing to computer technology, between desperate women looking for jobs, desperate immigrants looking for jobs. Put all that together, they didn’t have to pay any more wages to a population who measured their success in life as a rising standard of living.
  • If people believe that and it’s reinforced by every politician and advertisement, then they will borrow, with banks eager to lend, you produce an explosion of credit that, in the end could not be sustained.
  • Our problem now is you fund the banks again and you tell them to go lend, they can’t.
  • One thing no one is talking about is that this stimulus and the next one later this year, is based on the continuing to borrow money. As a hobbling world economy invests back into the United States, it will create a bizarre disorganization.
  • The clue is to look at the Great Depression. There was no social security, no unemployment insurance.
  • If the government is going to be the bank of last resort, the lender of last resort, then the logic will arise, why isn’t it the employer of last resort. We have an unemployment rate at nearly 9 percent.
  1. Reorganize the way business works so that the people become there own board of directors.
  2. Corporations reorganized so that workers collectively become there own boss.
  3. Mon-Thurs – You come to work and do your job as you always did, less hours, wage increase.
  4. Friday – Attend meetings all day to assess the impact of the product on the community, what products to make, what to do with profits. Cultivating the community.

Guest – Rick Wolff, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts at Amherst Rick teaches at the Brecht Forum and the New School in New York City. (Read Rick’s article, “Economic Blues,” in the Monthly Review)

Class Action Victory: More Than 500 Women Prisoners Sexually Abused In Michigan Prisons

More than 500 women prisoners in Michigan say they were sexually assaulted by prison guards in the 1990s. Now after 8 years of getting the courts to recognize women prisoners as people, among other obstacles, this class action lawsuit has brought their stories to the public domain and yielded verdicts of nearly $50 million. Attorney Deborah LaBelle has led a team of lawyers to get justice for the abused women in Michigan prisons. These cases represent only 18 women, many have yet to testify.

Attorney Deborah LaBelle:

  • The case began with re-framing what the rights are of women in detention and their bodily integrity.
  • Their right to be free of any sexual harassment, or sexual conduct similar to people on the outside.
  • We started out using the state’s Civil Rights Act – a law that had not been used in these types of cases.
  • The SCRA, protected people’s civil rights in employment but expanded to state facilities.
  • It took 8 years to establish that state prisoners are people too, before Deborah LaBelle and her team began trials.
  • Many prisoner cases are tried for injunctive release, the central issue is the awarding of money to validate the humanity of these women.
  • Other than Attica cases, no one has awarded this kind of money to prisoners.
  • Some women were abused within the period of 8 years, rapes/force oral sex/groping.
  • One of the testimonies is that women would put a pop can in front of their cell doors to wake them up when the door opened.
  • When raped outside of prison, you can get away from the location, or not see that person again.
  • They’re being sexually abused by employees of the State – in charge of judging your character – which creates a deep hopelessness for justice.
  • There are 500 women, as a class. The courts decided we would try them in groups of ten.
  • One of the stunning things in the first verdict is that jury came forward in the end and issued an apology.
  • The state has continually said, these are liars, prostitutes, criminals, the same argument that they are not a person was played out in the trials.
  • There are 482 more women to bring to court. Many of the women are out and stumbling, returning to prison.
  • Michigan stopped the cross gender pat downs, and removed men from the housing units.
  • We’re hoping the state says, people were really hurt and you have to acknowledge this, they need treatment.
  • Guest – Deborah LaBelle, an Ann Arbor civil rights lawyer who headed a team of lawyers to sue on behalf of the women. LaBelle was recently quoted saying: “No one, no one in this country, no one in a civilized society is sentenced to be raped and assaulted in prison.”