Why hire someone for minimum wage when you can get prison labor for half the cost? While work can be an important part of rehabilitation, we have to look at how it impacts the job market when we are turning over millions of jobs to prisoners. From Salon.com: 21st century chain gangs.
The blindingly obvious is validated when researchers pull out some statistics…
One study by a sociologist at Albany, Kate W. Strully, found that people who lose their jobs are 83 percent more likely to develop stress-induced conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, or depression. Another paper by an economist at Columbia University, Till von Wachter, looked at mortality and income records of workers in Pennsylvania during the recession of the early 1980s. Wachter found that death rates increased astronomically for the unemployed in the year they lose their jobs, up to 100 percent.
Hey, four months of underemployment got me ten extra pounds– and I have more options in the job market than most. It’s clear that a rational view of public health would take into account social circumstances– especially large scale ones like a recession. Does that patient need Prozac, or a job?
Rhode Islanders will be cheered to see that our unemployment rate has gone down slightly, and we can hope that’s a trend.
Massachusetts, with its health program and gay marriage and Democrat governor has 3% less unemployment than our state. This despite the leadership of brilliant business magnate Donald Carcieri, who has been vigorously cutting services to the people most in need while giving tax cuts to the richest. I hope prosperity will trickle down on us some day. Otherwise we’re going to have to pressure the new governor to do something drastic, like help hundreds of small businesses instead of giving a huge tax break to one big risky venture.