Wednesday, June 12, 2013

U.S. sues employers using criminal background checks in discriminatory manner

On June 11, 2013, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued BMW and Dollar General for firing a disproportionate number of minority employees for having criminal records, the Washington Post reports. A front page story on June 12, by Ylan Q. Mui, the Post's labor reporter, reports on the broader problem of criminal convictions driving unemployment.

In the EEOC case versus BMW, a woman who had worked for BMW for 14 years was fired because a recent background check found a misdemeanor conviction more than 20 years old that was punished by a $137 fine! In the Dollar General case, a job offer was rescinded to a black woman after a criminal background check, even though the record was found to be inaccurate! A second allegation in the Dollar General case involved a drug conviction of a black woman that was six-years old.

The Post probed the implications of these convictions more deeply, however.

The Post said a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that of those companies that conduct background checks, one quarter said nonviolent misdemeanors, such as drug convictions could influence their hiring decisions. However the slide actually said that a nonviolent misdemeanor would be "very influential" in the decision to not extend a job offer.

According to a PowerPoint presentation of a SHRM 2010 survey of the same type, slide 5, says that 73 percent of companies surveyed find a nonviolent misdemeanor conviction would be "very or somewhat influential" in not making a job offer!    

Criminal convictions are a mighty contribution to the crisis of unemployment and the consequent lack of demand in the U.S. domestic economy.

On Friday, June 14, the Task Force on Over-Criminalization in the U.S. House of Representatives is going to begin to examine the issue.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Factory taken over by Mexican cartel, investors charge

According to the Courthouse News Service, an investment group has charged in a fraud complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on May 10 that a furniture plant in Reynosa, Mexico that they bought from Thermo Fisher Scientific was controlled by the Gulf Cartel and that Thermo Fisher concealed that fact from them.
The plaintiffs are OpenGate Capital Group (which claims to do "cross border acquisitions" on its home page) and three Delaware businesses with RoundRock in their name. The plaintiffs allege that Thermo Fisher was desperate to unload the plant.

The complaint alleges that the Gulf Cartel stored a truck trailer of unknown cargo on the property and fled to the property as a refuge during gun battles.

True or not, the claim is sadly believable.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Economy just above a stall, says EPI

The Economic Policy Institute reports that the U.S. economy is growing "just above stall speed."

This accentuates the cost to the economy of millions of Americans in prison and with criminal convictions who can't get jobs and can't help grow the economy. We have the world's highest rate of imprisonment. We sentence at least a million persons a year to a drug conviction of some kind, and they bleed out of the workforce. They are forced out of schools.  This has been a cumulative problem for a decade.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Conservative commentator Brandon Brice notes the economic cost of the war on drugs

Conservative commentator Brandon Brice, writing in the Common Sense Conservative community pages of The Washington Times, notes the economic cost of the war on drugs:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently stated that the nation’s unemployment fluctuated between 7.8 and 7.9 percent in the last quarter, but rather than releasing resources and liberating the economy, Washington fights a war at home against Americans, leaving a swath of devastation through an already fragile economy. The question for most Americans becomes, where are our priorities? The million black men in prison don’t count as unemployed. Is the drug war a clever way of keeping black unemployment down?
It does not make sense to think the drug policy is being carried forward to enable the government to publish more favorable unemployment numbers. (The political benefit of reducing black unemployment numbers doesn't seem to be worth the dollar cost in local, state and corrections expenditures that politicians have to account for.) After all, the millions with drug convictions who are not in prison may still be trying to find work, and when they can't, they are counted among the unemployed. Prisoners serving sentences for drug offenses (or incarcerated for having violated probation or parole by relapsing and using drugs), number about 400- to 500,000 on any given day. They don't contribute that much to the unemployment rate. 
But the underlying point is critical: people with drug convictions are unable to fully participate in the economy of the nation. If you have a pension fund, a 401(k), a mutual fund, or any other kind of investment, the investment is worth less than it could be because of our drug policy's effect on automobile sales, housing sales, retail sales, and reduction of property values in "drug-infested" neighborhoods.

Ending drug prohibition is a wonderful issue in a political sense -- it is neither conservative nor liberal nor libertarian -- it is common sense.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Crime scholar writes drug trafficking is a business and violence is a strategy, in Washington Post

"Because trafficking is a business and fighting is a business strategy, drug cartels chose to fight whenever war brings more benefits than costs," writes Viridiana Rios in a Washington Post op-ed, Sunday, April 14, 2013. "Traffickers pick their wars. Battling is a strategic choice for cartels -- and they frequently choose peace." But right now "war pays in Mexico." The strategy is take out the illegal profits, she argues. Can one be devised short of legalization?

The U.S. and Mexico "may have been fighting the wrong war because we do not know who the enemy is," she writes. Target not the organizations but the violence. "A war against drug organizations is an endless war." Right now, fighting in Mexico "makes business sense." In Mexico, "only 6 percent of all homicides produce a trial and judgment."Our effort "must be a war to make sure those who kill face consequences."

She concludes, "A war against impunity can be won. A war against drugs cannot."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

USATODAY tells the new marijuana business story

USATODAY (April 8, 2013) tells the story of young investors from Silicon Valley and elsewhere looking into the potential profits from legal marijuana. Essentially retells the FORTUNE story blogged about earlier.