If a U.S. government agency wants to buy solar panels, it must by them from a U.S. government corporation. This corporation uses federal prisoners to assemble the panels. Prisoners are paid between 23 cents an hour and $1.15.
This sounds like slave labor to me.
But can slave labor produce sophisticated solar cells? Of course not. Then where do the prisons get solar cells? From Taiwan.
You mean “buy American” means using American prisoners to assemble panels? By law, yes.
How much does the Taiwanese form get out of the deal? Initially, $218.6 million.
The contract can be renewed.
It turns out that this use of prison labor has been going on ever since 1934. The company is known as UNICOR: the Federal Prison Industries.
UNICOR says the panels are made in America. Assembled, yes. Made, no. But the law says that “assembled = made.”
UNICOR has a captive market: the U.S. government.
This is not free enterprise. This is government-run economics. The big winner is the Taiwan firm that manufactures the cells.
Who knew about UNICOR? Yet it has been around since 1934.
Who knew that this sort of deal is common?
For every deal like this a handful of Americans find out about, how many are not discovered? And how many Americans ever find out.
It never stops. But it will when the Great Default hits.
Don't you first have to be free to be a slave? Some years ago we were in Oregon and found clothing made in the prisons.
You can google it "Prison Blues". Made on the inside to be worn on the outside. Just because you broke the law and got caught doesn't mean I owe you years of free food, lodging and exercise. Is all that fair with the solar panels? If the government is involved I would highly doubt it.
The only thing that bothers me is that the material is imported from Taiwan. That the people ssembling these devices ar doing so for little pay is their own fault. They should not be in a place like that, bad people hang out at those places……Oh, gosh they are the bad people. Of course to hear them, they're all innocent and pure as the driven snow.
Face it folks, they could be doing "hard labor" for NO pay.
I have no problem with the low cost prison labor. What do you want them to do? Stand around and suck down taxpayer $ and do nothing constructive with their time?
As far as the deal for a foreign company, that should be reviewed and subject to competitive bidding.
Are you people insane, or just ignorant? We have the highest rate of imprisonment in the WORLD, and most of them are non- violent "offenders," for things such as pot possession. You may get all excited about people possessing pot, but I (who do not indulge in such things) could care less. Can you face the fact that most people in our prisons probably shouldn't be there? Exploiting them is just sick.
What would be wrong with paying them a decent wage? Then let them pay for their health insurance, dental insurance, food and lodging. Is that not the way with law abiding citizens? It is a shame that we treat law breakers better than we do widows and orphans.