Simon Says: We Are the United States of Hard Time

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DALLAS -- If living in America was like a board game, many people would land here -- in jail. We are the United States of Hard Time.

Credit: Flikr User StockMonkeys.com

Credit: Flikr User StockMonkeys.com

The numbers are hard to take. Here's some perspective. Imagine everyone who lives in Houston. That's how many people -- 2.2 million -- live behind bars in this country.

We have more people in prison than the top 35 European countries combined.

It costs $80 billion a year. Perhaps that's why President Obama is spending some political capital lately. You may have heard he commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug felons. It's a symbolic first step to get the dialogue started on lowering the incarceration rate.

Nice try, but it's not going to happen.

Because if hypocrisy were a felony, a lot of politicians would be doing time. Take a look: Privately run prisons are booming. It's over a billion-dollar industry.

It's like prisons are becoming the airlines -- an empty seat and an empty cell have no value!

And when it comes to this kind of hypocrisy, jail time has something in common with lunch time: The government tells kids to eat right.

So, why is the school cafeteria near you allowed to cut deals with for-profit companies like these?

Yup, hypocrisy is alive and well when the government allows some private companies to get involved -- perhaps where they shouldn't.

Yeah, it's a game all right.

And someone you elected should be saying this:

Credit: Hasbro

Credit: Hasbro