Souce – stuartjeannebramhall.com
– “…Victoria’s Secret – Female inmates in South Carolina sew undergarments and casual-wear for the pricey lingerie company. In the late 1990’s, two prisoners were placed in solitary confinement for telling journalists that they were hired to replace “Made in Honduras” garment tags with “Made in USA” tags”:
If you buy products or services from any of the 50 companies listed below (and you likely do), you are supporting modern American slavery
How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization
by Toby Hemenway (2013)
Below is another great video on the history of horticulture by permaculturist and ecologist Toby Hemenway. Hemenway’s main premise is that agriculture – even non-industrial agriculture – is unsustainable. He approaches the issue from an anthropological perspective, by examining prehistoric cultures that became extinct as a direct result of transitioning from horticulture to agriculture.
Hemenway defines horticulture as food production using small garden and food forests that incorporate and support existing ecosystems. Agriculture, in contrast, destroys ecosystems to create vast clear cuts dedicated to single crops. The archeological record reveals that agriculture first developed in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) around 10,000 BC. At the time it was lush forest and bush. However after 3,000 of artificial irrigation, the soil became too salty to support life. The land, which became a desert, still hasn’t recovered. The same thing happened in ancient Egypt and Greece.
Archeological evidence reveals that all agricultural civilizations follow a typical pattern of exhausting the land after an average of 1,000 years and either dying out or moving to new land via conquest. According to Hemenway, the Oil Age was a great boon to our current agricultural civilization. Farm machinery and petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides provided an enormous burst in world food production. Unfortunately this only hastened soil degradation. Moreover a steep increase in the cost of fertilizers and pesticides (related to higher oil and natural gas prices) has greatly curtailed their use in the developing world.
Hemenway also asserts that the pre-historic importance of horticulture has been greatly underestimated owing to three myths widely promulgated over the last two hundred years.
Myth one: food surpluses produced by agriculture are essential to produce the leisure time and specialization required for culture to flourish.
New archaeological evidence reveals human beings engaged in cultural activities such as basket weaving, art, and music for hundreds of years prior to the development of agriculture.
Myth two: horticulture was merely a brief transition between hunter gather and agricultural societies.
Fossil and other evidence suggests that Native Americans planted and maintained most of the East Coast, Mississippi, and Amazon as food forests for more than four thousand years before Europeans destroyed their horticultural societies.
Myth three (thanks to English philosophy Thomas Hobbes): horticultural cultures are made up of savages who live short, nasty, brutish lives.
Anthropological and archeological evidence suggests exactly the opposite. Hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies devote far less time to securing and producing food than farmers. The former spend an average of three hours a day harvesting a day’s worth of food for their families; whereas pre-industrial farmers spent an average of two to three days to produce a day’s worth of food and this excluded the crops they sold to pay rent.
Moreover, people in horticultural societies were healthier, taller, and lived long than people in pre-industrial agricultural societies. Skeletal evidence from archeological sites reveals that the advent of agriculture introduced a variety of degenerative diseases, such as arthritis, and deadly viral epidemics (influenza, small pox, measles, polio, etc) that people caught from domesticated animals.
In addition, the introduction of agriculture led to the advent of class society, military conquest, and famines. As Hemenway points out, war is virtually unknown in hunter gatherer societies that migrate to follow their food source. Likewise it’s virtually impossible for a marauding army to steal the perennials out of someone’s food forests.
Famine was also virtually unknown prior to the advent of agriculture, after which large scale famines from drought and crop failure became routine.
Permaculture to the Rescue
Hemenway views our current food production system as a major culprit in the current ecological and resource crisis human beings face (e.g. climate change, ocean acidification, mass species extinction, and fossil fuel, fresh water and topsoil depletion). He estimates that without drastic change, our species will survive another fifty years at most. If, however, we can navigate a successful return to a horticultural society, archaeological evidence suggest we could keep going for millennia.
He sees the widespread adoption of permaculture as a return to horticulture. Permaculture is an 80 year old branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design that develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained food production systems modeled from natural ecosystems. The movement already has several million adherents worldwide through the TransitionTown and comparable relocalization movements.
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American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.
With 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prison population, the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world. No other society in history has imprisoned more of its own citizens. There are half a million more prisoners in the U.S. than in China, which has five times our population. Approximately 1 in 100 adults in America were incarcerated in 2014. Out of an adult population of 245 million that year, there were 2.4 million people in prison, jail or some form of detention center.
The vast majority – 86 percent – of prisoners have been locked up for non-violent, victimless crimes, many of them drug-related.
. . .
While prison labor helps produce goods and services for almost every big business in America, here are a few examples from an article that highlights the epidemic:
Whole Foods – You ever wonder how Whole Foods can afford to keep their prices so low (sarcasm)? Whole Foods’ coffee, chocolate and bananas might be “fair trade,” but the corporation has been offsetting the “high wages” paid to third-world producers with not-so-fair-wages here in America.
The corporation, famous for it’s animal welfare rating system, apparently was not as concerned about the welfare of the human “animals” working for them in Colorado prisons until April of this year.
You know that $12-a-pound tilapia you thought you were buying from “sustainable, American family farms?” It was raised by prisoners in Colorado, who were paid as little as 74 cents a day. And that fancy goat cheese? The goats were raised and milked by prisoners too.
McDonald’s – The world’s most successful fast food franchise purchases a plethora of goods manufactured in prisons, including plastic cutlery, containers, and uniforms. The inmates who sew McDonald’s uniforms make even less money by the hour than the people who wear them.
Wal-Mart – Although their company policy clearly states that “forced or prison labor will not be tolerated by Wal-Mart,” basically every item in their store has been supplied by third-party prison labor factories. Wal-Mart purchases its produce from prison farms, where laborers are often subjected to long hours in the blazing heat without adequate food or water.
Victoria’s Secret – Female inmates in South Carolina sew undergarments and casual-wear for the pricey lingerie company. In the late 1990’s, two prisoners were placed in solitary confinement for telling journalists that they were hired to replace “Made in Honduras” garment tags with “Made in USA” tags.
AT&T – In 1993, the massive phone company laid off thousands of telephone operators—all union members—in order to increase their profits. Even though AT&T’s company policy regarding prison labor reads eerily like Wal-Mart’s, they have consistently used inmates to work in their call centers since ’93, barely paying them $2 a day.
BP (British Petroleum) – When BP spilled 4.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf coast, the company sent a workforce of almost exclusively African-American inmates to clean up the toxic spill while community members, many of whom were out-of-work fisherman, struggled to make ends meet. BP’s decision to use prisoners instead of hiring displaced workers outraged the Gulf community, but the oil company did nothing to reconcile the situation.
The full list of companies implicated in exploiting prison labor includes:
Bank of America
Eli Lilly and Company
Johnson and Johnson
Procter & Gamble
While not all prisoners are “forced” to work, most “opt” to because life would be even more miserable if they didn’t, as they have to purchase pretty much everything above the barest necessities (and sometimes those too) with their hard-earned pennies. Some of them have legal fines to pay off and families to support on the outside. Often they come out more indebted than when they went in. . .