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America: A Corporate Police State?

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Joseph Lyons quotes from Chaiken, 1985, (p.8) "The shift of police service delivery to the private sector is taking place in basically four ways: 1) default; 2) accommodation and cooperation; 3) enabling legislation; and 4) by contract" (Chaiken, 1987, p. 8). Default transfers occur when the government does not meet a pressing need for law enforcement services, leaving private companies to fill the vacuum. For example, affluent neighborhoods which experience a rash of crime often feel they have to provide more protection than thepolice can provide. They then contract with a private security for armed security patrol.

An example of this was in the Westwood section of Los Angeles. After several drive by shootings and an armed robbery, the neighbors organized to contract with Westec Security for $85 a month per resident for an armed guard patrol 24 hours a day.

Accommodation and cooperation occurs when the police informally rely on private security personnel to perform tasks they prefer not to do; in return, the public police provides needed services such as responding expeditiously to calls for assistance from the private security personnel. For example, private security companies are providing security and shelters for the homeless in New York City. A provision of this unpleasant service allows officers to spend their time in police functions, and when fights or other incidents occur at the shelter, they respond expeditiously to those calls (Chaiken, 1987).

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Sounds benign enough. But there is more. And, these were the old trends from the 1980's. We, the public, have been like frogs in a pan of water where the fire is slowly increased to the point that we don't realize we are being boiled alive. These old trends were just the beginning of what is now being revealed as a nightmare that may ultimately be exposed as a corporate police state that is now in the making and becoming more powerful. Perhaps we frogs can awaken to the nightmare awaiting us? Or is it already too late?

The way this frog effect was orchestrated by the corporations was and is beautiful! The general population was easily manipulated into allowing for corporate policing due to reported inefficiencies of the existing public police departments brought on by budgetary cuts that enabled legislation passed in several states that allows specific types of private security personnel limited police powers. For example, in some cases, campus police at private colleges and universities and retail security personnel not only have arrest powers in case of theft from their employers, but they can also book an alleged offender and testify in court as the arresting officer (Chaiken, 1987). Sounds benign enough. Private companies helping overworked and understaffed police?

Contracts between government agencies and private security companies for a specific task have become so commonplace that they are beginning to blur traditional distinctions between private and public providers. Public police agencies are, in some areas, entering into contracts to provide special or additional police services to private organizations or neighborhoods on a fee basis (Chaiken, 1987).

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What has this led to? Gary Johnson, Presidential Candidate through Liberatarian Party states it beautifully with his prediction that "we will find ourselves with a heightened police state and our military intervention is not going to cease...Shoot first, ask questions later."

Could he be on target with this statement? Could the privatized police force be an instrumental piece to taking away of citizens rights for the sake of corporate domination? Our government has already been taken over by the corporate industrial elites. Isn't the privitization of the police just another movement in this holographic trend of privitizing everything, including schools, medical care and, closer to the issue, prisons (see http://www.apfn.org/apfn/private-prisons.htm).

In this same vein, policing some of the most dangerous US cities has quickly become the newest line of business for many private companies, which have already replaced police officers in cities from Portland Oregon to Baltimore Maryland.

This phenomenon now runs deeper than the normal shopping center or bank security guard. While in many cases private security personnel act more as city cleanup, organization or local ambassadors, we now find ourselves pushing for armed private security personnel to patrol the streets, perform arrests and transport civilians. This is a cause for concern, especially because of the more controversial issues surrounding the role of private military and security companies abroad in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, e.g., Halliburtin. (http://costanzo.org/Rex/Commentary/cheney_halliburton_circle.htm).

Cities have been turning to the private sector for a variety of reasons. Some local and state governments are under pressure from budget deficits and are often convinced that privatized industries are more cost-effective than state agencies and bureaucracies. Furthermore, cities often have an overstretched force that cannot respond to increases in crime, so private contractors are seen as a quick fix and an easy force multiplier.

But the question we must pose is this: Is it ok that we have private companies, in many cases giant corporations, running our lives in just about all arenas: edcuation, law enforement, the food we eat, and our medical care? The movie Corporation did a wonderful job of linking the behavior of corporations to the DSM-IV diagnosis of sociopathic personality disorder. (see trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa3wyaEe9vE). Is this what you want running the schools that are educating your children? Do you want these people policing your neighborhood? Do you want them in all arenas of your life, what you eat, the clothes you wear, what you do in bed? They already dictate your medical care, your work environment, and the economy. They have judges and politicians in their back pockets, and they have your kids under their thumb in the school and in the violent games being played to entice them into the warrior mode. Is this what we want? We are allowing sociopaths to wrap their gruesome hands around the throats of our kids! Meanwhile we work hours on end and worry about paying the bills racked up by the corporations to keep us slaves.

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How do we become independent of this Monster? It isn't a pile of independently operating monsters. It is one Monster composed, as all of us are, of several billion cells. Yet, as we are billions of cells opearting as one person, then so is the Monster. Begin by starving the monster. Buy your food from local businesses, not from grocery chains. Grow your own. Empower yourself in community. Begin a movement towards community based schools and get the corporations out of your kids' lives. You be on the board of that school and you take charge of the upbringing of your child. Empower yourself, empower your community. The future generations call out to you. Be creative. The movement must be diverse, not standardized. Make it so diffuse that it can never be killed.

If you want to chime into the conversation on this issue, join my wife and I at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/envision-this/2012/09/27/vision-for-the-present-of-envision-this-radio where we will be discussing issues near and dear to us while envisioning the future direction of the radio show.


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Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News. He is author of "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature." As of this writing, Burl is planning to self-publish the book. Alongside his wife, Burl co-hosts an on line radio (more...)

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