Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

Use your power

25th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
HardTruth Columnist

It’s open prostitution. There is no other word for it.

This week the Louisiana Public Service Commission voted 3 to 2 to allow phone companies to continue to cheat, defraud and exploit prisoners and their families for six more months. Only commissioners Campbell and Holloway had the guts or integrity to vote against the measure.

For years telephone providers have been able to operate a fiscal rape camp on the state’s prisoners and their families, thanks to the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Companies like City Tele Coin, Global Tel-Link, Securus Technologies and Intellicall Operator Services are allowed to charge several times the legitimate rates and then arbitrarily add on other charges at their whim. Campbell has been fighting this practice for years. Finally in December of last year a provision was passed outlawing it.

The three commissioners who voted for the measure could not argue that it is a moral thing for these companies to cheat the families. Their argument, like the Sheriff’s Association’s, is that the money is needed, so it’s okay to cheat the families of incarcerated people to get it…a rather odd position for folks in law enforcement to take.

But what happened with the PSC is happening across the nation with a frightening frequency. City councils, state legislatures, Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court are making decisions that clearly violate the rights and interests of the public to appease very rich corporations and industries.

• To protect the meat industry, several states have passed laws taking away your right to film animal abuse or what happens in meat-processing plants.

• To protect corrupt cops, several cities have passed laws taking away your right to film police abuse when you see it.

• To protect the food industry California passed a proposition taking away your right to know if your food is made with genetically modified organisms.

• To protect the food industry there are now laws that take away your First Amendment right to expose or criticize the food industry.

• To help Monsanto get richer – one damned company – the Supreme Court passed a law that virtually give that one company control over most of the food that you eat. Justice Clarence Thomas, a former lawyer for the food industry giant actually wrote the decision that has had devastating effects on farmers across the nation…and on people who happen to eat.

• To help the pharmaceutical industry get richer, the FDA is trying to take away your right to try natural remedies for many ailments such as Chaparal and Burdock Root. The same FDA routinely allows dangerous medicines to be tested on the public, only recalling them when too many folks start dying.

• The FDA has actually sent police in to raid stores in California that sell raw milk, known to have numerous health benefits.

• The United States Supreme Court, in direct contradiction to the Constitution of the USA, handed down one of the worst, most dangerous decisions in its history: Citizens United. (If you don’t know look it up).

The list is virtually endless. There are more laws being created every day to put more restrictions on your life, activities and rights, while giving big corporations greater opportunities to exploit you.

The Hospital Corporation of America, the Corrections Corporation of America, the Meat Industry, the Pharmaceutical Industry, Big Oil and any other entities with money to spend have been given incredible access to all that you have, including your body, thoughts and speech by people who were elected to protect and promote your interests.

The Louisiana PSC does not exist to serve the public. It serves the very industries that it is supposed to regulate. If the PSC is immoral enough to approve of economically sodomizing prisoners and their families, what do you think they are doing about other utilities such as lights, gas and water?

It’s no longer a conspiracy or hidden practice of any sort. It’s open prostitution. Your elected officials are openly serving the highest bidder or potential contributor. They will actually tell you what they can’t do or must do, because of this, that or the other powerful person, company or lobby.

The embarrassing fact is that you and I have the ability to put a halt to this foolishness, always have. Yes I know that economic hard times make it difficult for many of us to think about anything but survival. I also know that many of us are constantly distracted by entertainment and the increasingly encroaching virtual world. But this is not going to get better by itself.

We can reverse this problem locally and nationally. But it’s time to realize that a handful of militant activists are not going to turn this thing around.

…And That’s the Hard Truth!

This article originally published in the March 25, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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