Victoria Law at TruthOut tells us why the Department of Justice's decision to end its contracts with private prison corporations doesn't actually "end" private prisons, even at the federal level. The DOJ's decision has no influence on the Department of Homeland (sic) Security, which does a lot more business with private contractors than DOJ does -- now housing over 60 percent of its immigrant detainees with private corporations, including the Corrections Corporation of America, which was about to go belly-up before DHS started handing out these contracts. The DOJ statement that private prisons "simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs and resources" is worth repeating, but their reform remains a very small one.
California residents will vote this fall on Proposition 61, which would prevent state agencies from paying more for prescription drugs than the Veterans Administration does. Why is this important? Because the VA, unlike Medicare, can actually negotiate drug prices, and thus pays less for the drugs veterans need than Medicare and most state Medicaid agencies. If Prop 61 passes, California would become the first state to put a cap on drug prices -- and California, as you know, is a pretty big economy with a lot of people in it. The good news? Polling shows supermajority support for Prop 61. The bad news? That probably won't be true after big pharmaceutical corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars fearmongering the people about it.
Richard Eskow at the OurFuture blog finds the "Fix the Debt" crowd is back to their old tricks. These include fearmongering and restricting options. An example of the former is the TV ad depicting disappearing bridges and teachers, as if the CEOs behind "Fix the Debt" don't already accomplish such disappearances with their income-redistribution-upward schemes, and an example of the latter is a "handy" calculator tool with which you can "figure out" how to "fix" Social Security which naturally makes you jump through hoops to actually try to raise revenues rather than merely cut benefits. At some point, such desperate arguments have to backfire on its progenitors. Doesn't it?
Northern California District Judge allows wage-theft lawsuit against McDonald's to proceed, even though McDonald's argues that franchise owners are responsible for any wage theft. I'm not thrilled with the "ostensible agency theory" (seems to me corporations either do right or wrong whether plaintiffs believe they are or not), but I'm far less thrilled with the whole point of the franchise model -- to avoid responsibility for wrongdoing, even if you're forcing franchise owners to do wrong.
Finally, domestic workers win important protections in Illinois with the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. The bill essentially amends four other Illinois state laws so that domestic workers can enjoy their protections, which now include a minimum wage, sexual harassment and discrimination protections, and a day of rest out of every seven. I'll confess I'm a bit shocked that Gov. Rauner, as insensitive a man as has ever been elected Governor, signed the bill; perhaps he knows a lot of domestic workers.