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America’s Captive Labor

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11.07.2019

NEW YORK – Blaming manufacturing-job losses on low-wage foreign competition, or, increasingly, on automation has become a staple of populist politics in developed countries. Nowhere is this truer than in the United States, where President Donald Trump campaigned on the issue in 2016 and has since launched a trade war with China. But US workers have long faced another source of competition much closer to home: prison labor.

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    Many Americans may assume that the country’s convict-labor system is a thing of the past, especially given unflattering Western media coverage of other countries’ reliance on prison labor to produce export goods. But in 2005 – the........

    © Project Syndicate