East German markets in everything

by on December 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm in Economics, Medicine, Uncategorized | Permalink

Communist East Germany not only put its political prisoners to work making Ikea furniture, it also sold the bodies of its sick citizens to Western pharmaceutical firms for testing their new products, a new television documentary has revealed.

Here is more, hat tip to Kit in Germany.

NAME REDACTED December 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

“Communist East Germany not only put its political prisoners to work making Ikea furniture”
Not just East Germany, also Cuba.

So Much for Subtlety December 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I don’t see the downside to this at all. At least apart from the Communist totalitarian state using political prisoners. Western Trade Unions have forced Western States to stop using prison labor. The result is that prisoners are bored, under-exercised and hence prone to violence. The world of Prison Break or Oz. If they were working, perhaps even acquiring some real skills, everyone would be better off.

It is the use of prisoners for testing drugs that is the problem. But still, if you have a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail. American prisoners were routinely used to test drugs until recently. It is a product of the imprisonment more than the Communism I would think. Israel had a scandal where the mentally ill were used to test drugs – you did not need their permission, but the asylum’s permission you see. Easier to get. I would hate to think what goes on somewhere like India. Much less Mali.

affenkopf December 10, 2012 at 1:19 am

The US puts prisoners to work.

prior_approval December 10, 2012 at 2:03 am

And pays them too.

Here’s the fascinating history of just one of the schemes (someone else can cover how southern states replaced one form of involuntary labor with another – but since we are talking about paying prisoners, it is just a touch off topic) -

‘Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR and FPI, is a wholly owned United States government corporation created in 1934 that uses penal labour from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to produce goods and services. FPI is restricted to selling its products and services to federal government agencies and has no access to the commercial market.’

And it was bi-partisan too – ‘A statute in May 1930 provided for the employment of prisoners,[2] the creation of a corporation for the purpose was authorized by a statute in June 1934,[3] and the Federal Prison Industries was created by executive order in December 1934.’

And look at the munifence (the word ‘minifence’ was first typed – it even seems fitting in context) of prisoner wages in the federal prison system –

‘Critics say Federal Prison Industries pays substandard wages, and that inmates work subject to conditions and salary the company itself decides.[8] Under current law, all physically able inmates who are not a security risk or have a health exception are required to work, either for UNICOR or at some other prison job.[6][9] Inmates earn from US$0.23 per hour up to a maximum of US$1.15 per hour, and all inmates with court-ordered financial obligations must use at least 50% of this UNICOR income to satisfy those debts.’

What I like is how prisoner labor is not even voluntary. But at least we pay them a maximum of $1.15 for their forced labor. Labor like this –

‘One report [10] detailed a FPI operation at a California prison in which inmates de-manufactured computer cathode-type monitors. Industry standard practice for this mandates a mechanical crushing machine to minimize danger from flying glass, with an isolated air system to avoid releasing lead, barium, phosphor compounds to the workplace atmosphere. At the FPI facility prisoners smashed the CRTs with hammers. The report noted, “Smashing CRTs with hammers is not a common practice in the private sector, nor could it ever be considered a ‘best practice.’”‘

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Prison_Industries

Bill December 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

No marginal workers?

Is this supposed to inspire us?

ZMP=0

Béranger December 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The article in The Local is very poorly, and mala fide translated, trying to imply that the GDR was more criminal than it actually was.

Compare with the original articleȘ
http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/medizin/ddr-medikamenten-tests-liefen-ohne-kenntnis-der-patienten-a-870577.html

“…sagte er zu seiner Frau. Gut ein Jahr später starb er.” has been translated as “Shortly before he died, he told his wife…”, to suggest he died shortly after taking the placebo pills!

In fact, the German text says that the patient has survived one more year after having ceased to take the placebo pills.

Dismalist December 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm

The man would have died when he died without the placebo pills at all. The point is that people were forced into an experiment rather than treated with methods useful with known probability, and known to them. Call it premeditated random murder. Does this beat deterministic murder?

Steve C. December 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Anyone surprised by this?

I will never forget the guard towers, the 15 foot tall steel fence, the minefields and the guard dogs. All facing in, not out, along the border.

freethinker December 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

So Much for Subtlety says “I would hate to think what goes on somewhere like India.” I asked a human rights activist about use of prisoners in India for drug trials. She said horrendous things happen to prisoners , especially juvenile prisoners but prisoners in Indian jails are not used as guinea-pigs for drug trials. Hardly any consolation since she added that what juvenile prisoners sometimes experience is worse than being used as guinea-pigs by drug firms

Dismalist December 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Beginning to read like the Goodbye Lenin blog.

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