Being a platform about food isn’t just about producing good recipes or hacks, but also about consuming food morally. As a lover of food and people, I have had to recognize that some of my most frequented businesses capitalize on modern-day slavery.
When it comes to Starbucks it’s their uniforms, their packaging, and those specialty holiday drinks you pick on the way to class. With McDonalds, it’s the very burger patties and chicken nuggets, processed and frozen before being cooked for your pleasure. Other companies, such as Wendy’s, Walmart, and Victoria’s Secret, all profit from this system of enslavement, and it hurts you in the long run.
The companies you rely on for your everyday commodities are causing moral, economic, and societal issues by cutting corners and holding a vice grip on the government. They are all doing this by exploiting the American prison system and creating a Prison-Industrial Complex (PIC).The PIC promotes the mass incarceration of individuals, many unfairly imprisoned, as they are put to work by big businesses. This work is in less than human conditions, with no benefits or leave, for 90 cents to $4.00 a day. It is a system based on inequality, and promotes counter-productive legislation and budget choices to protect business investment.
Companies who feed from this system don’t have to worry about providing fair wages or benefits to the prisoners, nor do they have to fear over unionization, vacation days, or government regulations on work conditions. In fact, the companies that hire current prisoners gain a $2,400 tax credit for every work-release inmate they employ, under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
This is not only a moral issue. It is one present in our very economics, where tax payer money goes towards building new prisons, the over enforcement of minor laws, solitary confinement cells, and other non-rehabilitation based investments. It feeds into the system, providing more prisoners and more space for prisoners. Which, in turn, provides a larger and cheaper work force for business.
Tax payer money is being used inefficiently to keep prisoners in this unpaid labor force. Society gets no long-term benefit. Prisoners get no longer term benefit. This system is set up to continue mass incarceration instead of rehabilitating those who need it.
Even that is making the big assumption that all the people who are face large sentences or are being held and forced to work for pennies a day are guilty. Part of the system, the idea of the plea bargain, is set to avoid a trail and promotes parties to plead guilty even when innocent. Guilty pleas and false confessions by innocent people are coaxed when the system threatens longer sentences if one pushes a trial at all. Its an intimidation tactic that feeds into the mass incarceration of minorities and the impoverished.
Guilty pleas and false confessions by innocent people are coaxed when the system threatens longer sentences if one pushes a trial at all. Its an intimidation tactic that feeds into the mass incarceration of minorities and the impoverished.
The Prison-Industrial Complex promotes bad economics, bad government policies, and bad morality in an already injustice system. The idea of being “tough on crime” is one promoted by the PIC and creates no positive outcome for those both rightfully and wrongfully imprisoned.
While I don’t personally see my boycotting Satrbucks and McDonald's, as well as other companies who use this modern-day version of slave labor, as capable of changing the entire system as a whole, I do think it keeps me from feeding into it. It’s not a hard thing to be conscious of in my everyday life, and if I have to drive two extra minutes to get fast food from a company who doesn’t exploit people and hurt the entirety of America in the process, then so be it.
So I offer this: be conscious, find alternatives, and communicate. Think before you go buy a burger. Make your own Egg McMuffin or PSL. Don't be afraid to talk about this issue and spread the awareness. The only way things can changes is if we talk about and cut off our engagement with the system. For more reading on this issues, I suggest you read 21st Century Slaves.