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The Knotted Line

Evan Bissell, Author

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1940s: Putting the 13th Amendment to Work

1940s: Inmate production of military goods expands during WWII through Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR). It continues today, supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Actions for Self-Determination:
  • 1940s: Fair Trade begins on international scale with the sale of crafts from Puerto Rican artisans and European refugees of World War II. The practice has grown to include coffee, chocolate and more.
  • 1995: TimeBanks USA is founded on the premise that time is the unit of value of exchange. 
  • 2012: Richmond, California, hires a co-op coordinator to help guide the creation of co-ops in the city that has a persistent 17% unemployment rate.
Discussion Questions:
  • Discuss the idea of time banking.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why does a politician or a lawyer get paid more than a teacher or a farmer? Should they?
  • If you are able to, would you be willing to pay more for something so that you know the person who made it is compensated fairly? How does this benefit or hurt society?
  • Use this list of corporations or pages 30 and 31 to make a map of your own connection to prison labor.
Additional Resources:
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