Street crime, drug addiction, and delinquency have been asserted to be the result of the immorality of the impoverished. Therefore, poverty, which is a human creation, that is, it is an institution which is being blamed for the depravity of the people in our society. The extension of this is that those who are most disenfranchised and without the power to influence and shape society are being blamed for the creation of the institution of poverty. Yet, there cannot be poverty if there is not the massive consolidation of wealth. Thus, if the object of the “Tough on Crime” and “War on Drugs” campaigns that lead to the development and expansion of the Prison Industrial Complex were really to heal the immorality of our society, then the most obvious solution given the underlying assumptions would have been to eliminate poverty and diminish the pervasive disparities of this country. This would mean that the best method and strategy to limit the harms that occur in our society is to redistribute the control of wealth merely beyond the threshold of their being people who are impoverished. It is not the case that people do not want to work yet, it is the case that many cannot afford to work because the minimum wage in most states does not even begin to permit a family to escape poverty. When a person has a forty hour work week and still has to rely on welfare to eat and maintain a place to live, and at the end of the month are still in poverty is the quintessential example of the creation and maintenance of a system of impoverishment. But, this solution has been rejected because it is believed to present too much of a short-term burden in exchange for a long-term peace and moral maturity. Those who claim to be the most concerned with the immorality and depravity of our society, and who are also the most responsible for their existence, are also least interested in doing what is necessary to solve the problems they themselves have created. Instead, to retain their comforts and privilege they blame the people least responsible and most disenfranchised, while expanding the penal code and criminalizing even the smallest infractions, that are then arbitrarily enforced by the police institution, to put these people behind bars to further fatten the pockets of those most responsible by increasing the prison labor pool.
I was born with an expiration date,
hung from my neck,
stamped like a license plate
It was a notice to the world stating
Get what you can from him because he won’t see 18
He won’t make it to college, not through high school
And do not listen to him when he tells you these are his dreams
Because they’re lies, and whether he recognizes it or not
We, have plans for him
And those plans neither include a family nor a happiness
Because neither are sufficient motivation for him to comply with us
No! for us to get what we want from him,
he must be, broken, shattered, hopeless
And he must believe he is the one responsible for his condition
He must believe it is the result of, his, decisions
That he chose his position
That he had an equal opportunity with everyone else to do something different
He can never know that the wrong side of the tracks
was really red lines on a map
drawn down at city hall
That it was the National Housing Act of 1934
That laid the path for the rise of the ghetto,
urban farms, where it’s not crops that are grown,
but people, stock for cell blocks,
to subsidize markets locked
by inflation from free trade participation in a nation
that ain’t never done shit without enslavement
These are the things he can never know
He cannot know that poverty, like wealth is created
He cannot know that it wasn’t chance,
or a roll of the dice that planted him in impoverishment like cracks in the pavement
He cannot know that the ghetto is not inevitable,
that it is not unchangeable, that being poor is not a fate, not predetermined
but planned, scripted, constricted to particular segments of the society we live
Because should he ever learn these things,
then that is the moment we lose control of him
And we need a continuous supply of workers, strong, and ready to go
Who will accept never drawing a check,
never checking the drawing and asking,
did I ever actually have a chance to live?
Is having a shelf-life really living?
Knowing you are member to a group of human beings they call and endangered species, they, call me, an endangered species
I was never expected to live
Imagine the weight of a license plate like that
If it hung from your neck could you ever stand fully erect, would you perform to your best, if the best you could expect was to somehow slip detection or to die in prison, stamping the plates of future children who will be following your steps
How would you feel?
How would you act?
If you knew the system might have more to gain from your death?
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