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To Combat Price Gouging, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Introduces State-Sanctioned Hand Sanitizer Made from Cheap Prison Labor: 'We Are Problem Solvers'

Illustration for article titled To Combat Price Gouging, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Introduces State-Sanctioned Hand Sanitizer Made from Cheap Prison Labor: We Are Problem Solvers
Screenshot: @ABCPolitics (Twitter)

In times of crisis, heroes often come from an unlikely source.

In 2018, as the Mendocino Complex fire tore through hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Northern California, it was inmates enrolled in a volunteer firefighting program who fought to extinguish the flames in exchange for a measly $2 a day—and time taken off of their sentences.

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And now, with the coronavirus inciting hysteria and causing a serious shortage in hand sanitizer, NBC New York reports that inmates at correctional facilities throughout New York have been tasked with churning out more.

During a press conference on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed “NYS Clean,” the Big Apple’s own state-sanctioned sanitizer that won’t do jack shit about all those damn rats strutting throughout the city, but it’ll at least reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19.

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Allegedly.

“We are problem solvers,” the governor boasted, as New York residents could be heard pouring their trash onto the street outside. “And there is price gouging on hand sanitizer and a high demand for hand sanitizer. What do you do? Make your own hand sanitizer? Can you do that?”

I can actually.

And if your attempts at replenishing your supply at home have proved futile in recent weeks, you can too.

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But for those lucky enough to live in the pathogenic paradise known as New York City, today’s your lucky day. Because not only is NYS Clean free99, but about 100,000 gallons of this miracle elixir will be distributed to schools, government agencies, the MTA, not-for-profits and other lucky recipients throughout the state.

“We’re introducing NYS Clean hand sanitizer, made conveniently by the state of New York,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This is a superior product to products now on the market.”

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And considering that it boasts a “very nice floral scent” and is 75 percent alcohol, as opposed to Purell’s 70 percent, Gov. Cuomo has reason to be proud of his latest creation.

“To Purell, and Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay, if you continue the price gouging, we will introduce our product, which is superior to your product,” he said. “And you don’t even have the floral bouquet, so stop price gouging.”

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Shots fired.

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While NYS Clean offers a timely solution to a mounting crisis, it also raises plenty of questions; and one of the most important comes from our very own Michael Harriot: “Does this mean Harvey Weinstein is gonna make my hand sanitizer?”

I think we can all agree that this deserves an answer, governor.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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DISCUSSION

...made with cheap prison labor.

You know, I feel like he has come so close to getting it and yet just missed. If you are using prisoners then they ought to be fully waged, and money paid into an account for them to use when they get out (or for their heirs if they are doing a full stretch), and their participation not only has to be fully voluntary but also cannot be taken into account at parole hearings (because otherwise it is just making it compulsory by a different route). That goes for all prison labor.

Oh, and like in the case of prison firefighters they cannot be excluded from working in that field upon release. That is less a factor in this specific instance, but for prisoners who train in firefighting or medical first responders excluding them from doing the work is just a fast track back into jail.

The idea that the state can and should manufacture basic necessities, that idea has real and serious merit though.