Washington Beyond the Headlines: Are Businesses Competing with Prison Labor?
By Andy Blom, TES Washington Editor
The number one question in America this week is: When should we open? Thoughtful free market policy people are proposing ways to lead us out of this crisis…and some other crises as well. As Washington goes back to work…and considers spending a whole lot more of your money… the pandemic originating in Wuhan still dominates the news. Read on …
- It’s a Con…Is Your Business Competing with Prison Labor? Many businesses have been forced to close, or severely limit operations, due to the Coronavirus. While their workers may be at home because of COVID-19, Federal Prison Industries, a government owned corporation operating under the name UNICOR, is using prison inmate labor to produce goods and services. Still in operation in spite of lockdown, UNICOR is a $531 million dollar business working in Agribusiness, Clothing & Textiles, Electronics, Fleet, Office Furniture, Recycling, and Services. A concerned coalition has asked Attorney General Barr to put an end to the unfair practice. They make their case here.
- Thoughtful, Reasoned Suggestions from Congress. Really. Okay, we tend to be a little harsh on our elected officials (have you seen the nonsense loaded into Ms. Pelosi’s $3 trillion HEROES Bill?) but we have to give credit where it is due. The Republican Study Committee (RSC) a group comprised solely of serving conservative members of the House of Representatives, has put forth Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity…a 37 point proposal dealing with the five areas they have identified as most critical. See for yourself here. And how refreshing it is to see Accountability as a key ingredient.
- Delivering Bad News…to the Post Office and You. In what can only be considered a bewildering move, President Trump is threatening what amounts to a “package tax”. In the Covid-19 driven CARES Act, the administration refused to provide emergency relief to the USPS, offering only a $10 billion credit line dependent on accepting Treasury Department conditions…including raising rates on package delivery! At the heart of the dispute seems to be the President’s duel with Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of the often anti-Trump Washington Post. But is now, while all of under-seige and unemployed America is dependent on deliveries, the time to cripple the Post Office and charge Americans more? Edward Hudgins of The Heartland Institute lays out the problem here.
- Good Money After Bad. Don’t Bailout Failed States. Washington is throwing around a lot of taxpayer money. Your money. Unquestionably, a good deal of the spending is necessary to help start the economy and to aid workers and businesses suffering through the pandemic. But good money should not be used to bailout failed state fiscal policies that pre-dated the crisis. So argues former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. And he should know, having successfully begun the turnaround in his home state. See his argument here.
- Why Go Back to Work? Unemployment Pays Me More. In their aggressive, and sometimes panicky efforts to combat the problems caused by Covid-19, Congress has passed 4 bills, the largest being the CARES Act. And while those efforts have been aimed at helping America’s economy, businesses, and individual citizens, even the best intentions can have unfortunate consequences.Drew Gonshorowski and Rachel Greszler of the Heritage Foundation take a clear-eyed look at one potential problem — will the $600 a week Federal unemployment insurance bonus backfire? The math is simple: a $10/hour employee makes $400/week. State unemployment will pay around $200/week. Add $600/week from the Feds and, well, why go back to work? Read their analysis here.
- Turn Off Tiger King and Watch This. As we are all hunkered down bingeing Netflix, we should broaden our selections and maybe learn something…important. Yaël Ossowski, a writer, consumer advocate, and deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, points us to some very good, and very serious, work the cable giant is doing on the American Justice system — specifically on the use of misleading, and sometimes downright false scientific and ‘expert’ testimony that is affecting court cases. Ossowski points out Netflix documentaries that focus on the issue and how they might be changing how justices view ‘expert’ evidence and testimony. Fascinating stuff – read it here.
- Free Legal Advice… That’s Worth Lots More than You Paid for It. The Pacific Legal Foundation wants you to know just what your rights are in this strange and confusing time. So they have produced Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Government’s Emergency Orders to Combat Coronavirus, a useful guide on the legal and constitutional issues facing businesses and individuals. Know where you stand. Visit the site.
- Post Pandemic Tax Reform can Keep Us from Being Over-Taxed. Governments — State, Federal and around the world — are spending a great deal of taxpayer money fighting COVID-19. And don’t forget, it’s your money! But post Covid-19, rebuilding economies is also going to mean rebuilding Government coffers. The Tax Foundation is out ahead of the curve, offering State, Federal and Global tax policy options to effect a real recovery. See light at the end of the tunnel here.
- Are We Really Protecting the Elderly? The coronavirus most threatens the most vulnerable, the elderly, especially those with compromised immune systems. So how are we doing at taking care of these valuable and vulnerable seniors? The Committee to Unleash Prosperity has compiled the data and it’s sobering. It seems the governors who have imposed the strictest lockdowns on the young and healthy are doing the worst job protecting the most at-risk. Look at their extensive, and alarming, findings in a simple chart here.
- What are They Thinking? Young People Tell Us. The Young America Foundation (YAF) has taken an in-depth look at how young people (13-22 year olds) are thinking and responding to the pandemic…and the changes it has forced into their lives. The extensive (over 50 question) research study of 1600 current high school students and N = 800 current post-secondary students gives a valuable look into the future. Dig into it here.
Events: Nobody is going out much, check to make sure your event has not been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Many are being live-streamed as an alternative. Hint: You don’t have to wear your mask at a livestream event!
- HERITAGE FOUNDATION offers a selection of Virtual Programming on a variety of topics, always with interesting and highly credible presenters. Check here for a complete listing
- ACTON UNIVERSITY. Four Day Conference. June 16 – 20, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Apply at university.acton.org.
- LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF FUNDRAISING, Mon. – Fri, July 20-24, Munich Germany. Info at LeadershipInstitute.org/ISF.
Andresen Blom is a Washington based policy and political analyst and author who has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico.