with Chris Hedges
Nigrotime on May 21, 2019
On May 10, 2019, Chris Hedges gave this talk to 27 graduating students who were formerly incarcerated—several of whom he taught in prison—and their families at Rutgers University on Friday. The ceremony was held by the Mountainview Program at Rutgers, which helps students complete their degrees at Rutgers after they take college courses inside prisons through the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP) program.
Filmed by Michael Nigro
“Is it not criminal to allow more than 12 million children in the United States to go to bed hungry every night while Amazon, which earned $11 billion in profits last year, paid no federal taxes? In fact, in our system of corporate welfare, Amazon received a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government. Is it not criminal that half of all Americans live in poverty, or near-poverty, while the three richest men in America, including the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, have combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans? Is it not criminal that millions of factory jobs, which once allowed families to earn a living wage with health and retirement benefits, have been shipped to places like Monterrey, Mexico, where Mexican workers in GM plants earn $3 an hour without benefits? Is it not criminal that our families have been sacrificed to feed the mania for corporate profit, left to rot in violent and post-industrial wastelands such as Newark or Camden? Is it not criminal to harass and terrorize the poor on the streets of our cities for petty activities, such as selling loose cigarettes or “obstructing pedestrian traffic,” which means standing too long on a sidewalk, while Bank of America, Citibank and Goldman Sachs have never been held accountable for trashing the global economy, wiping out 40 percent of the world’s wealth through fraud? Is [it] not criminal that, as poverty has gone up and crime has actually gone down, our prison population has more than doubled?”
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