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Hullabaloo


Sunday, April 27, 2014

 
America land of the free: leading the world in "guard labor."

by digby

Speaking of  a country run by greedy billionaires buying the protection of a global military empire, how about this?
Another dubious first for America: We now employ as many private security guards as high school teachers — over one million of them, or nearly double their number in 1980.

And that’s just a small fraction of what we call “guard labor.” In addition to private security guards, that means police officers, members of the armed forces, prison and court officials, civilian employees of the military, and those producing weapons: a total of 5.2 million workers in 2011. That is a far larger number than we have of teachers at all levels.
[...]
But however one totes up guard labor in the United States, there is a lot of it, and it seems to go along with economic inequality. States with high levels of income inequality — New York and Louisiana — employ twice as many security workers (as a fraction of their labor force) as less unequal states like Idaho and New Hampshire.



It's a fascinating article and one that should at least make people stop and wonder just what in the hell is going on here in the land 'o the free. The authors speculate about the effect of inequality and how that leads to a need to "guard the store." And I'm sure that's at the heart of much of this.

But there are other factors that make us unusual. There is the huge military manufacturing sector that is creating a market for its goods. You see police forces turning themselves into para-military operations all over the country. Half the medium size towns in America look like they're being guarded by the Delta Force these days instead of your old fashioned beat cop.

And we are also a very wealthy nation that's uniquely overflowing with guns. Where you have a heavily armed population of have-nots it seems logical that you'd need a lot more people guarding the store.

None of that is based in any data, of course, just my own observation. But I think it's pretty clear that that chart above must reflect both economic inequality and a unique culture.

As I have written ad nauseam: if you build it, they will use it. If you don't want a police state, it's probably a good idea not to finance one. But look who needs a police state to guard its stores of vast wealth? The people at the very top who are also buying our political system. It all works together quite conveniently.


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