The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘unemployment’ Category

ASSUMPTIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

If more people had a grasp of the subtleties of the English language, we might go far toward eliminating some of the misunderstanding which exists between us.  But unfortunately, too many of our citizens communicate with a highly limited vocabulary and a poor understanding of the meaning of the words they employ in their speech.

Much of the conversation circling around the question of the profiling of people whom the police believe are likely candidates to commit crimes has taken place because people don’t understand the difference between two important words – assumptions and conclusions.  Unfortunately, President Obama in speaking on the subject today might have reinforced this confusion.

Simply put, an assumption is a belief or feeling to  which a person holds without having the evidence either to support or reject an opinion.  Some assumptions are undoubtedly based on prejudice – whether it is racial, or not trying a specific food because of the way it looks – if it looks funny it probably tastes bad – that sort of thing.

By making the statement that, “Trayvon Martin might have been he,” the President played to his audience and suggested that those who make assumptions merely based on physical characteristics are dangerous elements in our society.  I believe that he referred, as he has in the past, to law enforcement – and now, of course, to private citizens who might have reacted in the same way that George Zimmerman did.

We’ll get back to the President’s statement later in this post.

Let’s turn our attention to the word conclusion.  A conclusion is an opinion that a person may hold after she or he has looked at data, evaluated the evidence and now has a basis for making a determination.  It is only fair to say that two people viewing the same statistics might reach different conclusions.  But, at the least, there is some objective information on which they relied to form their opinion.

An example of “profiling” that we not only permit but endorse is practiced regularly by TSA.  It tends to single out people who appear to be of Middle Eastern origin – and there is reason for this.  It was people of that ethnic background  who we claim were the responsible parties for the events of 9/11.  Based on our experience, they are the most likely people to commit further acts of terrorism.  The sad events at the Boston Marathon support that view.  Is there anyone who fails to see the logic of this or believes that the conclusion to engage in this practice is faulty in its logic or that it is inappropriate?

I recently read some interesting statistics which came from the NYPD.  The city has seen a tremendous reduction in crime since it began profiling individuals and initiating “stop and frisk” measures.  It should be said that more than 90% of those stopped are either black or Latino.  NY Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly makes no bones about his department’s targets for this policy, despite the fact that the Department is being sued over “racial profiling.”

There is a reason that the Department selected this particular demographic to make New York a safer place.  The fact is that, according to the department’s records, 96% of the murder victims in the city are either black or Latino and 97% of the suspects in custody for these murders are either black or Latino.

Those who assume that there is only a racial motivation in these pat downs would probably be right.  But if you look at the statistics, as have the NYPD, do you think it would be productive to pat down 90 year old Mrs. O’Reilly as she returns home from daily Mass?

Much has been written (and this is an excellent example of the faulty logic and the assumptions made by many) about the fact that a disproportionate number of blacks are in jail than their percentage in the general population.  Of course, the assumptive reasoning is that we have an unequal justice system that oppresses our minority black citizens.  What a load of rot.

There are proportionately more blacks in jail because there are proportionately more blacks who commit the crimes that send them there.  And those statistics hold for NY, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and a host of other cities that will most likely be scenes of rallies for “justice” for Trayvon Martin on Saturday, July 20, 2013.

That young man’s death was tragic – but perhaps it was inevitable that he might have come to this kind of violent end.  And when you, Mr. President say, “It might have been you,” I believe you are correct.  I have seen the commission of crime in the district that first elected you to office and the demographics are not far different than those in New York.

I have been a victim and I have known other victims in that district.  And the perpetrators were young black men – with or without hoodies – high on drugs or merely out for a good time.  Most of those who are violated by these thugs are black men and women – the overwhelming majority of whom are your constituents.

The fear of young black men is real.  It is real among anyone who has been a victim, anyone who knows a victim and among anyone who has done a little research.  This fear shatters all boundaries of race and color and is held as much by blacks as whites – perhaps even more by the former group.  Would you call our elderly black citizens who are fearful of young black males racists – or realists?

If you want to leave a positive legacy for the country, please stop relying on faulty assumptions and take a look at the facts.  If you do that, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that the cancers of illegitimacy and dependence and illiteracy and unemployment are at the core of the black community’s problems.  And if you do that, you will turn from flowery oration to initiating positive action.

It’s long overdue.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM DETROIT

If you were to compile a list of cities in the old “Rust Belt” that are on death watch, Detroit might well head the pack.  The once great center of commerce and industry has been in steady decline – in large measure because of the now no longer dominance of domestic auto production on the world market.

Detroit is one of the direst examples of what can happen to a once great city when businesses shut down, workers become unemployed and neighborhoods go into decay.  The lack of good jobs brought an exodus from the city.

According to the 1950 census, Detroit topped out in its population with just under 1.9 million people living there.  The 2010 census shows there are now only 717,000 residents – a decline of 25% in the population from the census of 2000 and the lowest recorded number of residents since 1910.

As you would suspect from these numbers, vacant housing is everywhere to be found in the once proud Motor City.  This is one source of Detroit’s cosmetic problems – and, where you have people struggling to make ends meet with little job opportunity or creation, crime is a second one.

The number of murders in Detroit increased from 344 in 2011 to 377 in 2012 – making it the Murder capitol of the U. S. on a per capita basis – if no longer the Motor capitol.  There is plenty of time for people to commit murders as the official rate of unemployment is nearly 30% in Detroit – although the Mayor and City Council members put the real number at nearly 50% of all adult Detroit residents.

But if we were to envision some magical genie who could wave his hand and all of a sudden industry were to return to Detroit – would it make a difference?  The unfortunate answer is – probably not.  Detroit has one of the lowest rates of graduating students from its high schools.  The number of boys who graduate is now at 25% and for girls at 39% – among the lowest numbers of any city in the nation.  So even if jobs returned, there would be few Detroiters who have sufficient education to qualify for them.

The State of Michigan has attempted to address one source of this problem – truancy.  Detroit school children have among the highest absentee rates in the country.  Forgetting for the moment about the quality of education children in Detroit may receive when they do attend, it should be intuitively obvious that if they don’t attend they will receive no education, period.

So the state proposed cutting off welfare and other subsidy payments to households in which a child has been absent for 10 days during the school year, in an effort to get parents more involved in making sure their kids go to school.  Needless to say, this evoked a strong reaction from concerned parents as shown in the following story and video:

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/19633772/michigan-families-to-lose-welfare-benefits-for-too-much-truancy

Where does lack of education and lack of job opportunity ultimately lead us?  The answer is to dependence, poverty and slavery.  The following video demonstrates how desperate people react when they hear a promise of some new government sop which is being dangled before them.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=b66_1254962584

Those in Washington, in our state capitols and in our city halls should all be aware of these issues  and be concerned.  If we continue on our present path, all of our major cities may start to look a lot like Detroit.

OUR ANGNORANT SOCIETY

My parents taught me to play fair with others.  I have always tried to do that and believe, more often than not, have lived up to my folks’ high standards on the subject.  One of the nicest compliments I have received from readers is that they believe I present both sides of an issue objectively and then argue my case.

The reason for my mentioning this is that if the Federal Reserve is able to print funny money in unlimited amounts, it seems only fair to me that I should be allowed to coin a couple of new words.  And I have.

The words that I have freshly minted are Angnorance (n.) and its derivative Angnorant (adj., n.).

Judging by the exceptionally insightful comments which you leave in response to these posts, I know that you folks are way at the head of the class.  So there is certainly no need to tell you that our newly created words are a combination of Anger and Ignorance.

But it seems to me that if you’re going to invent something, you have an inherent responsibility to explain precisely what it is or how it works.  So I am going to offer my definition of Angnorance for you to consider.  (If you like the word, please feel free to use it).

Angnorance — A state of mindlessness which results from a lack of education and at whose core is the envy of the achievements of others.

When I was growing up, my teachers would ask me to use a new word which I had learned in a sentence to demonstrate that I truly understood what it meant.  What follows are several examples using our new words:

“John was truly angnorant.  After only two years his unemployment benefits were about to run out.  Now he was going to have to look for a job.”

“Latonya was mad at the management of her bank for passing her over for a promotion to work as a teller.  She thought they were an angnorant group of racists.  After all, she had just gotten her GED.”

“When there was a glitch which delayed refilling his EBT card, Stephan was filled with angnorance.  How could he get cash back to buy smokes and beer which were not permitted purchases under the program?”

These examples are far from exhaustive.  I’m sure that my readers can (and perhaps will) come up with some of your own.  Feel free to share those with the rest of us.

Both anger and ignorance are killers.  Science and religion are in agreement on this point.  Science clearly demonstrates how anger causes adverse physical effects.  Religion points out how it destroys the humanity of a person.  And ignorance, while it takes its toll more slowly, also causes ruin.  It enslaves the person who is its victim to a lifetime of misery, want and despair.

Angnorance takes the worst elements of both of these and combines them into a pill that is far more lethal than any poison mankind has either discovered or invented.  And we are distributing it freely to all who want to drink at the Kool Aid fountain.

We live in an angnorant society – one which is becoming increasingly more so.  The only questions remaining are whether there is the time and the will to save ourselves.

SILLY RABBIT

Once upon a time a rabbit came into a tidy sum of money by winning the jackpot in a lottery drawing.  He was very happy at this good fortune, of course.  He was fixed for life with the certainty that he could buy more carrots than he could ever eat.

Not only did he not have to forage for himself – at the risk of receiving a load of buckshot from Farmer Jones’ shotgun – he could just hop over to the grocery store’s produce section where his favorite vegetable was readily available and all nicely pre-packaged.  The rabbit thought this indeed was Nirvana.

After awhile, he thought to himself, “Why should I stay in this cramped little burrow?  I should buy a house and live in style”  So he did.  He bought a beautiful house. It had all the most modern amenities which, of course, included a very large entertainment center.  The rabbit really liked that and spent hours watching it.

Of course, when he tuned in to the Playboy Channel, expecting to see stories about Flopsy and Mopsy and Cottontail, he was a little startled at what he saw.

One day while he was watching television he noticed an advertisement for a local company that sold a food that was called a donut.  The rabbit had never tasted one of these – but they looked good.  So the next time he hopped down to the grocery store he bought a dozen of them along with his supply of carrots.  He liked donuts even better than carrots and was determined that he would never go another day without eating some.

Well this went on for some time when a horrible thought occurred to him.

“What if the donut company should go out of business?  How would I get my supply of donuts?  I should buy the company and make sure that I will always be able to get enough donuts to satisfy my wants.”

So, since he had a lot of money available from his prize winnings, he purchased the donut company and took over the business.  He felt good about his decision.  Not only would this give him a certain supply of donuts, the exercise of running a business would probably help him lose the weight he had gained from sitting on the couch, eating and watching television all day.

The rabbit knew nothing about running a business but he was a bright chap.  He realized that maintaining the size of each donut’s hole was critical to his being able to make a profit.  The more dough he sold, the less dough he made.

So he turned his attention to making sure that the equipment that regulated the size of each donut’s hole was in perfect working order.  Sadly, he didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the other aspects of his business.

One day someone stopped by from something called OSHA.  They cited the rabbit’s company with a lot of violations of regulations which he didn’t even know existed and fined him a great deal of money.  The FDA claimed that the nutritional information on his packaging was incorrect and demanded that it be revised.  A  few days after that some people came by from the EEOC.  They told the rabbit that he was being sued because he didn’t have enough Slimy Toads working in his factory.  The drivers for his company demanded that they be represented by the Teamsters Union and until he recognized their right to organize would make no more deliveries.  And finally the IRS levied his bank account because the previous owners had unpaid taxes which they considered to be the rabbit’s responsibility.

This was more than the rabbit could bear.  He was last seen hopping away from the donut factory in search of a new burrow where he could live out his remaining days in peace and security, foraging for his daily supply of carrots.

The company closed its doors, putting the employees on the unemployment rolls and causing the plant to decay to the point that it was such an eyesore that it was razed at the taxpayers’ expense.

Moral:  The hole is sometimes greater than the sum of its parts.

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DEBATE OR DA BEARS?

Baseball may be the “National Pass Time” but the minds and hearts of most Americans turns to football when that sport enjoys its season in the sun.

I don’t know if whoever scheduled the final debate, realizing that the subject matter of foreign policy was ho-hum to most Americans, didn’t feel there was a problem pitting it against the more important event of Monday Night Football (Bears vs. Lions).  But kudos to them.  The debate was rather hum drum and neither candidate did much to inform those of us who watched.

In the end, I think that I would give a small edge in delivery, if not substance, to President Obama.  But that might be “damning with faint praise.”  I say that because, by virtue of his office, the President ought to be far better versed on foreign policy than his opponent.  He has had four years to learn about the subject.

Governor Romney had obviously studied up on the subject and was fluent in mentioning hotspots around the world and opportunities which the Obama administration might have muffed.  He also had either learned or just enjoyed using the word “tumult” – at least three times that I counted – but I might have missed one or more.  Hey, I like tumult as well as the next person – the word that is – but enough is enough.

Foreign affairs is certainly an important subject – particularly if you’re having one with a visitor from overseas – but it is not going to be the reason anyone decides to vote for either of these men.  What it is all going to boil down to is the poor economy, the record high numbers of the unemployed and who has a better vision for how to get us off the side track on which we find ourselves with Railroad Obama.

There was one point that was made or implied by both candidates that I thought was totally overlooked by the political commentators who parsed the debate after its conclusion.  “That America is the moral leader of the world and that we have not only the right but the responsibility to share our vision of social and economic prosperity with those who are less fortunate.”

When I was a child of about eight it suddenly dawned on me that I was so incredibly lucky to have been born in the greatest country in the world.  You may be amused to learn the cause for this insight.  It was stamp collecting.

My parents had bought me a moderate-sized world stamp album and a number of packets of cancelled stamps containing issues from the U. S. and foreign countries.  They had also bought me a “U. S. Scott’s Postage Stamp Catalogue”, listing all the stamps which had been issued to date by the Postal Service.

I thumbed through the Scott’s catalog which provided my first introduction to the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1892-1893; the Presidential Stamps of 1938 which featured the busts of 31 of our former Presidents; the National Parks issues which extolled Teddy Roosevelt’s vision in establishing the National Park system and setting aside land to conserve the pristine beauty of America for the protection of wildlife and so future generations would be able to enjoy them.

The United States had issued stamps commemorating the plight of the “Overrun Nations”, eleven of which were brought under the Nazi yoke during the Second World War and the final one commemorating Korea.

And there were stamps which commemorated the American experience in honoring the Louisiana Purchase and a series that celebrated the achievements of American authors, poets, educators, scientists, composers, artists and inventors; and so many more which told the story of the country of which I was so proud to be a young citizen.

I did not have a world stamp catalog but I did have my album.  There was something startling that I noticed, even at my young age, as I looked at the images over which I would place the  appropriate stamp if I should ever be lucky enough to acquire it.

The stamps which the United States had issued contained so many different subjects.  Those which other nations issued typically featured only one image – that being the face of the political leader who headed up the government

That was true for World War II Germany, with images of Adolph Hitler; for Iran (then called Persia) whose stamps bore a portrait of the Shah; for our ally the United Kingdom (and its Commonwealth States) with images of the King or Queen who was then reigning; Chinese stamps bore the portrait of Sun-yat-sen and Siamese stamps bore images of the King.

It was then that I realized why I was lucky to be an American.

While I could never be the ruling monarch of any country in the world where that institution still existed, I could, if I worked hard and had the talent, be one of those authors or poets or educators or scientists or composers or artists or inventors whom we had honored on our postage stamps.

It was that promise of opportunity that prompted hundreds of thousands to immigrate to America and sail into New York harbor under the beckoning torch of Lady Liberty, her lamp, a symbolic beacon of the brightest light that has shone throughout human history.

I had been born in a nation founded on principle and the rule of equal law for all its citizens, a country which came to the defense of our friends in both the First and Second World Wars.  Our generous people provided the lives of so many of our sons and when the conflicts were over we provided help in rebuilding the countries of both our friends and those who had been our enemies.  And by virtue of our acts of generosity, we earned the right to be the moral leader of the world – and the nations of the world respected us less because of what we said than because of what we did.

And we did a lot.

We enjoyed living in the most prosperous nation on earth.  We enjoyed having the best educational system in the world.  We enjoyed a healthcare system that was second to none.  We enjoyed the freedom to be whatever we desired to be – a freedom that is denied to the female population of many countries today.  We enjoyed material comforts that were the envy of others in less developed countries and were never imagined by the poor in yet more backward ones.

I am sad to say that the spirit and the hope which built America has been replaced by the dark shroud of selfishness and envy.  So many of us have given up the dream that each of us can be anything we choose with the belief that some who have been successful have no right to their achievements.  Rather than seeing them as inspirations for the rest of us, we view them as fiends and covet what they have attained, believing we have a right to share in the fruits of their labors although we have invested none of our own effort in what they built.

In essence, we have found excuses for our own failings and are content to wallow in a whining self-pity.  This plays well to our fellow under-achievers – and it is a drama which the rest of the world is viewing – with passionate interest.

People in foreign countries who have benefited from our generosity and friendship in the past must be shaking their heads in disappointment and disbelief.  And those who would do us harm are licking their chops in anticipation, realizing the truth of President Lincoln’s statement that, “A house divided will not stand.”

This is not the America in which I grew up and of which I was so proud.

If we are to resume our unquestioned role as the world’s leader, we must first set our own affairs in order.  We must put aside the rhetoric which has unfortunately dominated this campaign.  We must stop speaking of “Me” and “Them” and start using that unifying word, “US”.

I believe that those who are more fortunate have a responsibility to assist those who have less than they.  But those whom they help have the responsibility to accept that assistance, using it to improve their own situations through work and effort.  It’s an old concept called “work ethic” and it was that concept that built this country.  If we do not return to it, we will pass, as have so many nations, into the annals of history as yet another country that had its moment in time but lost its way and faded into obscurity.

I believe that Mr. Romney attempted to make that point during the debate.  Had he done so more clearly I would have given him a decisive win in the engagement.

Lacking that, I’d basically call the debate a non-event.  But for those of you who had the foresight to expect that and turned your attention to football instead, I can say with certainty that Da Bears beat Detroit by a score of 13-7.

But then you already knew that.

WALTER “TWO-BITS”

If you’re old enough you may remember some of the “light bulb” jokes.  I think there is some underground cadre of joke writers who hit on a topic and suddenly, as though through spontaneous generation, jokes on that subject proliferate quickly.

One of the light bulb jokes that I liked most asked the question, “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”  The answer, “Only one – but the light bulb has to really want to change.”

When I first began trading stocks from an office at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, as I previously mentioned, I did very poorly.  A year and a half later (and many thousands of my own dollars down the drain) I finally turned the corner.  It was as though a signal beam had gone off and a group of seven homeless people suddenly picked up on my incipient success.  (It would be many months before I made back the money I had lost – but I was headed in the right direction).

Each of these men was black and each of them had an interesting “street name” – as though they were characters out of “Porgy and Bess”.  There was “Wee Willie” who was very diminutive in stature; “Sammy Snake Eyes” – who I gathered had gotten into his present situation because of his love of shooting craps; “Absolute Al” – who was an authority on any and everything; “Jivin’ Jerry” – I never understood how he got his name; but most of all I remember “Walter Two-Bits”.

I remember how my father would never refuse to give some money to a street person who asked for a handout.  So, despite the fact that things were still tight financially, I would always make sure that I had a couple dollars in quarters in my pocket when I left for the day.  The group appreciated this little contribution which brought them a bit closer to making a purchase at Cal’s Liquor and Package Goods Store which was only about a block away.

Meeting these guys on the way to get my car became a daily ritual.  And as I started to do well on a consistent basis the quarters turned into dollars.  It was as though I were a rock star and these men were my groupies.  Most of my fellow traders thought I was just “getting milked” and commented, “They’re only going to buy booze with your money.”  I replied, “Once I give them their dollar, it’s theirs to do with as they choose.”

It was a beautiful spring day and outside my office building there were all sorts of brilliant flowers that had been planted inside the marble areas where people used to sit and unwind from the day or perhaps eat their lunch.  By this time I had made an arrangement with each of my guys – rather than handing them a dollar a day, we agreed that I would give them five dollars each Monday and that would be it for the week.

Several of them, but “Wee Willie” in particular, tried to hustle me for an extra dollar here or there with stories about how it was his grandmother’s birthday (the third one in only a month) and all sorts of fabrications that would have made Corporal Klinger of M*A*S*H fame envious in his effort to try to get a Section 8 out of the Army.  I stood firm with our arrangement.

So on this lovely spring day I sat down for a moment to recap that day’s events – and as it was Monday I had my small wad of five dollar bills ready.  All of the men came over and the last one in line was “Walter Two-Bits”.  He was by far the youngest of the group as he seemed to be either in his late twenties or perhaps early thirties – all the rest being well over fifty years of age.

He sat down next to me and I gave him his five dollar bill – thinking that would be the end of my seeing him for another week.  But he decided that he wanted to talk.  So we sat there for about a half hour and he told me his story and asked for advice.

Walter was obviously a very bright young man – but he had made a mistake.  He had a job with a major company in Chicago, working in their accounts payable department when he realized that the company had very poor internal controls about how they paid their vendors.  He decided to try an experiment.

He prepared a voucher payable to himself in the amount of seventy-five dollars – and sure enough the check was printed.  He tried this twice more with slightly larger amounts and those two checks were also issued.  But he was afraid to cash these three checks which he had generated over a several month time period.  The total of them came to less than four hundred dollars.

The company’s internal audit department happened to be conducting a review at the time and found these three checks to be outstanding and started investigating who was the payee and what services had he provided.  In that process they discovered that Walter was one of their employees.  He was fired and the company decided to prosecute him for theft – even though he had never cashed the checks.

I remember a bit of wisdom that grandma imparted to me as a child, “A thief and a liar are both cut from the same cloth,” so I certainly didn’t condone Walter’s actions.  But on the other hand, considering the fact that he had not actually stolen anything, I thought that in his case, the “justice” which he received  – four months in Cook County Jail – was overly punitive.

After that conviction, it was difficult for Walter to find a new position and so he had joined the ranks of the homeless and lived on the street.  His former girlfriend had found another beau and Walter had pretty much given up on himself.  So we talked that day, and a few days later and almost every day after that for two weeks.

I encouraged him not to give up on himself.  Sure he had made a mistake – we all do – only some of us don’t get caught as he had.  But I told him that he was too bright to give up on life and accept his new style of living.  I asked him if he wanted to be on the street for the next thirty years.  That statement apparently struck a chord with him.

Well, my group of guys continued to meet me every Monday.  And Walter was among them.  Each Monday I would remind him of our conversation and ask him if he had made any decision about wanting to live the rest of his life on the street.

Walter told me that he had applied to The Salvation Army which had a rehabilitation center and a training program – and he was waiting to hear if he had been accepted.  I was delighted that he had taken that step and told him that I would gladly provide a reference for him if he felt that would help.

Two Mondays later my group, without Walter, assembled as usual.  I asked “Sammy Snake Eyes” where Walter was.  He said that he had started the program at The Salvation Army and had gotten a room in their dorm while he completed the four month program.   I was delighted – and said, “See, if Walter can do it why can’t you guys?”  But the rest of the group just took their five dollars and headed over to Cal’s.

I kept asking the group each week if they had heard anything about how Walter was doing.  But apparently he had dropped out of sight.  It was a Monday, about a year later when I next saw Walter.  He had completed the program and had gotten a job and already received one promotion.  I scarcely recognized him as he was nicely dressed, sporting a shirt and tie and a nice pair of trousers.

He had asked to leave work early that Monday because he wanted to show me how the program had changed his life and to thank me for my encouragement.  He was sharing an apartment with two other guys from the program and was saving up money so that he could get a place of his own.  He truly was a different man than the one I had met a little more than a year earlier.

Light bulbs and people can change – but they really have to want to.  Walter (no longer “Two Bits”)  demonstrates that fact..

THE LAST DOG

 Henry hid in fear for his life as the three young thugs made their way down the street. After a week on his own he knew better than to hide anywhere near the dumpsters or garbage cans. That would be the first place they would look to scavenge food.

His mother had named him Little Bit as he was the smallest of the eight puppies who were in his litter. But when he found a home with his human that man changed it and after three years Henry had grown rather fond of his new appellation.

He was tired of running and trying to find scraps of something edible to eat. How different from the warm bed and nicely prepared meals which he had known. He heard his human speak of “The Uprising” with a friend on the phone – before the telephones stopped working.

Henry knew something was very wrong when he saw his human starting to eat the dry dog food from the large bag that stood on the floor in the pantry. Finally the bag was empty.

Henry had given his human his complete trust. But when the dry food was gone he heard his name called not out of love – but out of hunger. And his human was holding a large knife. Henry flung his full sixty pound weight against the back screen door and made his escape into the dangerous streets.

During his days on his own he had seen only one dog, a golden Labrador. She had come up trustingly to a group of young mobsters, her tail wagging and had been clubbed and then had her throat cut as her assassins cheered. One cried out, “Here’s dinner.” From his hiding place Henry would have vomited, but there was little in his stomach for him to expel.

Henry couldn’t believe all this had happened. He knew from listening to his human discuss the events that led to “The Uprising” that what had once been a great country had brought it on itself.

The “Great Leader” had come to power on promises to make everyone’s life a better one. That appealed to many who were thoughtless and desperate and uneducated. But even Henry realized that you couldn’t make dog biscuits out of thin air. That did not deter the masses from buying into these false promises. They saw them as their only chance at salvation.

At first the “Great Leader” preached only against those who had become extremely wealthy through their efforts and labor. These were easy targets to despise for people who had little of anything and even less hope. But the mob had a mind of its own.

After they had plundered the wealthy, they found there was not enough to satisfy their envy and their lust. And there wasn’t sufficient food to fill their bellies. So they turned their attention to anyone who had more than they.

There were shops filled with food, owned by hard-working people who had devoted their lives to their businesses. The mob broke in to them, killing all who stood in their way. They cared nothing for the owners or their families. They cared only for themselves – and were justified by the “Great Leader’s” words.

It was the French Revolution all over again – but in a different time and place. And this time instead of a guillotine there were assault rifles and automatic weapons.

Eventually all the stores were emptied. And the mindless mob turned on each other – as there was no one else left to supply them with what they coveted.

Henry thought on this as he began his own search for even a scrap of food. He went down an alley and found a bone with the smallest bit of meat still attached to it. The bone was covered with flies – but he began to gnaw on it anyway. And then he saw her.

One of the mob. She was filthy and had that look of hunger on her face that Henry had come to know all too well. And in her right hand she held a baseball bat. She leered at him with desire born out of pure cold-heartedness.

Henry took up the bone in his mouth and began to run so that he might live yet another day.

He was determined to stay alive. For all he knew, he might be the last dog.

 

 

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