The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Baltimore’

SANCTUARY AND THE RUST BELT

In his attempt to find something as a “legacy,” President Obama is, through his minion Secretary of State Kerry, attempting to forge a deal of some sort with Iran.  Sadly, the president has not come to the realization that this deal, good or ill, will not be his legacy.  He has already established that.

The obvious and lasting legacy of this administration will be its consistent refusal to enforce the laws of the land – or, more exactly – to enforce those laws which it chooses and from which it sees a sense of political advantage and to ignore those which do not fit its agenda or which might benefit its opponents and all the rest of “We The People.”  The legacy of Obama will be that a nation whose foundation was built on equality under the law will have moved to a state of lawlessness on its way to nihilism and possible anarchy.

The unfortunate, tragic and avoidable death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco at the hands of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is a direct result of the Obama administration’s refusal to enforce the laws regarding illegal aliens which are on the books.  But they are not alone in responsibility, the Sheriff of San Francisco, the members of that city’s Board of Supervisors and its mayor also share some part of the blame.  But if there were one specific cause for this tragedy to which we may point as being the culprit, it is San Francisco’s self-adoption of its “sanctuary city” policy – and the Federal government’s tacitly condoning it.  Translated, that means that San Francisco has chosen to ignore Federal law and do what it wants.

By now everyone knows that the alleged (and now admitted) murderer had entered the country illegally and been deported five times; that he was guilty of seven felony convictions; and had chosen to reside in San Francisco largely because he knew that he would find a safe harbor there and not be turned over to ICE authorities for yet another deportation.  So, in addition to the loss of a perfectly innocent young woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, we will now go through the expense of a trial and most likely spend good taxpayer money incarcerating a man for life who shouldn’t have been here in the first place.

You might have thought that with the brouhaha that Donald Trump made with his statement about illegal aliens that we would have heard something from BoPeepObama.  But the highest level of commentary came from California’s two senators, Feinstein and Boxer.  The two of them, who have been in the Senate since shortly after the great flood, took time to put down their hairspray and rinse just long enough to issue two separate but equally insipid statements in which they expressed an appropriate amount of tut-tutting and said that we really should do something about this whole thing with (using the PC term) undocumented aliens.  If there is a silently imposed invisible glass ceiling which keeps women from the same opportunities that men enjoy, these two and their colleague representing San Francisco in the House, Nancy Pelosi might well be the reason.  This troika might well be named the “Three Ditzketeers.”

Washington state and Colorado’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana are another example of how local government has decided to thumb their noses at Washington and do what they will.  They have received a non-response from Washington just as have the two hundred “sanctuary cities” that have self-declared themselves as such.

So as long as we are cool with local governments adopting policies which are in variance to what the Federal government mandates, this provides an opportunity to extend the logic of local self-determination to a higher level.  And this concept may go far to help revivify some of our rust belt cities which have fallen into a state of near collapse – places such as Detroit and Baltimore.  Those and similar declining municipalities should declare themselves a Federal Income Tax-free sanctuary zone – exempting their residents from the necessity of paying any Federal income taxes in the future.

There is very little reason for a person to want to move to a Detroit or a Baltimore.  Hundreds of properties in both are either abandoned or extremely run down.  The crime rate is so high that living there is a bit like taking a vacation in ISIS controlled Iraq but with no exit visa.   Unless there is some substantial incentive, soon they and similar cities will turn into a vast wasteland.  So the city governments should turn over those properties to pioneers who would like to take a shot (no pun intended) at rehabbing them.  Returning them to the tax rolls would provide the local governments some much needed revenue – if they could entice enough adventurous people to take part in this experiment.

Would the Feds go along with this income tax exemption?  After all, they’ve overlooked states that violate Federal narcotics laws – and municipalities that ignore Federal immigration laws.  But then when it comes to money, that may be where the buck stops.  After all, the reality is that collecting money from the American people is the lifeblood which continues to finance pompous politicians and bloated bureaucracies.  And in the end, maintaining their own privileged lifestyles may prove to be of sufficient importance that they would actually take action and put their feet down.  Money is probably more important than the citizens of this country to them.  Just ask the family of the late Kate Steinle.

BUS FARE

About twenty years ago, give or take, business was booming in my temporary help business.  We had, after a lot of work and a great deal of frustration, developed a core constituency of clients who ordered office help from us week after week.  These were major corporations like Budget Rent A Car and The Quaker Oats Company.  Not only did they order from us with regularity – we could depend on receiving payment for our invoices in a timely manner.  Naturally, we were appreciative of their business and bent over backwards to keep them happy – making sure that we filled every assignment with a qualified person.

Every so often they would throw us a “ringer” position.  Our specialty was in secretarial help – but from time to time they would request someone for the mail room or to do document copying.  We did not have a big bench of people with those skills as that was not the focus of our recruitment efforts.

One day, one of our best clients requested a person for a two month period to work in sorting and delivering inter-office mail (naturally this was long before email was in the extensive use in which we find it today).  The client indicated that if they were happy with the person we assigned, it might turn into a permanent position.

After combing through our files we called the few people who could handle the position and would be likely to accept it.  One of those, a young man named Jamal had worked on two assignments for us although it had been quite some time since we had an opening that was appropriate for his limited skill set.  But we called him and he said he was available.  That’s when I heard one of the most heartbreaking truths about poverty and the inner city.

“You know, I would like to take the job – sounds good – and I’d like something could turn permanent.  I been looking for permanent work for a year.  But, problem is, I don’t have the bus fare to get to work.”

I didn’t talk to this young man but my Sales Manager, Stephanie had the conversation with him and she came into my office to ask if there were something we could do to get him some money so that he had bus fare until he got his first paycheck.  I adored Stephanie.  She was bright, creative and I think most importantly, she had a big heart.  She handed me Jamal’s application and the first thing that I noticed was the he lived in the Robert Taylor Homes – one of Chicago’s worst housing projects.  It was so bad in this part of “the hood” that Chicago’s finest were nervous about responding to calls in “Da Homes.”

I got Jamal on the phone, asked if he would meet us in a half hour outside his apartment building and said that we would be happy to give him a cash advance so that he could get on the bus to take the job.  There was a brief pause when he heard this and then he emotionally said he would be downstairs and described the clothes he was wearing.  So I grabbed one of the guys in the office (without telling him where we were going) and we headed out to the projects, stopping at the bank to cash a small check and make sure I had some singles and quarters in the forty dollar advance as the CTA frowned on its riders who didn’t have exact change.

True to his word, Jamal was downstairs as we pulled up, navigating between the empty McDonald’s containers that littered the area in front of his building.  I handed him the details of the assignment, two time sheets and the forty dollars.  The Cheshire Cat had nothing by way of a grin that came over the face of this young man.

This is one of those stories that has a happy ending – well sort of.  Jamal showed up at our client on time and did a great job.  After the first week he came into our office and brought his time sheet.  He thanked everyone, starting with our receptionist, then Stephanie and me for giving him this chance.  The client apparently was very pleased with him and had told him that if he kept up the good work for the two month duration of the assignment they would make arrangements with us to hire him permanently.  Jamal was 22 years old and had never had a full time job.  And that is, in fact, what happened.

About two years went by.  Our relationship with the client grew and in a typical week we had more than thirty temps working at their corporate office.  One morning Stephanie came into my office, tears streaming down her cheeks.  I got up from my desk, fearing that something tragic had happened with one of her family members, put my arms around her and asked what was wrong.

“I just got off the phone with Vera Jackson.  (She was the lady who placed orders for temporary help for this client.)  Jamal was coming home from work on Friday and when he got to his apartment, he was killed in a drive by shooting.  Vera said that he had told her that he had nearly saved up enough to move out of the projects and into a safer neighborhood and was looking for an apartment.  If only he had found one a few weeks sooner.

I thought about Jamal yesterday as I watched the riots in Baltimore.  According to the news report, the thugs who had the accelerant and the matches burned 140 cars in one night.  They did their work in a poor neighborhood, burning down what little was there in the first place.  I thought to myself that those cars were the biggest asset their owners held, the way they got to work.

And I thought in light of this destruction, I hope these poor souls have bus fare.

HOW TO FIX AMERICA’S INNER CITY PROBLEMS

Fifty years after the “War On Poverty” had its birth, the nation’s impoverished ghetto residents of our multiple inner cities have not seen their situations improve.  In fact, the truth is quite to the contrary.  That is despite layer after layer of welfare, social program has been enacted and trillions of dollars have been spent, provided by the working taxpayers in this country, all of which were intended to ameliorate these unfortunate people’s conditions.

I’ve said it before and forgive me for repeating myself.  While the 13th Amendment officially outlawed the ownership of one person by another, we have substituted government for the slave owner, keeping its own farm of chattel servants in a permanent condition of ignorance and poverty.  And we euphemistically call this “welfare.”  The reason for perpetuating a system that obviously does not achieve its goal is quite clear.  The purpose of welfare is not to assist people who cannot make it through life on their own.  Its sole purpose is to make sure that the politicians who put it in place can have a reliable group of people on whose votes they can count so that they may live a lifestyle to which none of their constituents may ever aspire.

It is understandable that the black community voted overwhelmingly to elect Barack Obama president.  Logic would suggest that a person whom they saw as one of their own would be a champion, helping them out of their generation long condition of poverty and helplessness.  The sad truth is that Obama has not even focused on the condition of black ghetto dwellers, nor should we have expected that he would.  For the moment that he took the oath of office as President, he joined the ranks of the ruling political oligarchy who are the real threat to this country – not the wealthy one percent of money makers who are the frequent blame for all of America’s ills and perceived inequities.

If you listen to the left, and their voice is very loud, streaming through our television news shows and the vast majority of our newspapers, you will hear the chorus that the white majority in America has as its agenda the mission of oppressing the black minority.  The illogic of that statement is profound.  Because it is the white majority who have jobs and pay taxes that support those who are generationally dependent on government largesse (welfare) and receive no benefit personally for the tax dollars they send to Washington, D. C.  If there were more in our inner city ghettos who had positions, contributed to the tax rolls and did not deplete them through monthly stipend, all Americans, irrespective of color would benefit.

Do you remember the 50,000 shovel ready jobs that Obama promised his constituency and the country?  To my knowledge not one of those jobs ever materialized.  And if we are to listen to the administration, at least as their point of view was expressed recently by Assistant Spokeswoman for the Department of State, Marie Harf, the explanation for the rise and appeal of ISIS (or ISIL to use the government’s preferred terminology) is that militant youth in the Islamic world are turning to it because there is a lack of jobs and opportunity.  If that’s an accurate explanation for the rise of violence in many parts of the world, does it not follow that might be the explanation for the violence that occurred in Ferguson, MO and now in Baltimore, MD?

Following that line of thought, there is an obvious partial solution.  Until 1973, the United States had a military draft.  To this day, 18 year old males are required to register for it even though no one has been called for 42 years.  Perhaps it’s time that we gave the draft another look.

Drafting young people either into the military or a revitalized VISTA program (Volunteers in Service to America) for a two year period would provide them with a “job” and hopefully instill some discipline.  Dropouts who didn’t make it would finish out their original term of service either in the brig or in a juvenile detention facility.  That might seem harsh, but sadly, the curriculum vitae of many, particularly in our inner city ghettos, often contain stints in our more hard core prison facilities.  While we might not be able to redirect everyone into a more productive, focused way of life, we might be able to breathe some life and inspiration into at least some of these young people which hopefully will enable them to free themselves from the chains of dependency which our politicians impose on them through the implementation of our present, failed policies.

BALTIMORE BURNING

The colony of Maryland was chartered by King Charles I to Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, an English Roman Catholic.  Calvert and his father preceding him had sought this charter as a place where Catholics could find a refuge from the persecution to which they were subject in England.  The colony was founded on the principle of religious tolerance.  Tolerance.  That’s a word that has, if it has not vanished from our vocabulary certainly has been largely absent from the behavior of many of us.

Today, a portion of Baltimore is burning, burned by the intolerant, the ignorant and those who would promote anarchy.  Granted, the recent death of a young black man under mysterious circumstances while he was in police custody is the focus and purportedly the catalyst for today’s lawlessness.  As we saw in Ferguson, MO, young thugs – some of whom may well not be local – are burning and looting.  A CVS after being raped of its contents was set ablaze and is on fire as I write this.

Various interviews with local residents suggest that while Freddie Gray’s demise was the immediate cause of today’s outbreak, there has been a very long history of mistrust of the Baltimore police by the black, inner city community that goes back decades.  One middle aged man described how he had been detained by the police and spent several months in prison after they discovered that he had his day’s supply of prescription medication wrapped in a napkin in his pocket.  The implication of his statement was that they took these capsules to be an illicit substance.

Baltimore has, for the last 47 years had a Democrat installed in the office of mayor.  The current occupant is, in addition, a black female.  According to the 2013 estimate by the U. S. Census Bureau, of Baltimore’s 622,000 residents, 63.3% are black.  As we know, if you merely ask anyone at the DNC – the Democratic party is the party of the oppressed, the down-trodden and minorities.  Black Americans overwhelmingly buy into this apparently as more than 90% of them are registered as Democrats nationwide and President Obama got more than 95% of their votes.  Every member of Baltimore’s City Council is a Democrat.

Perhaps the man who was interviewed and displayed a great deal of anger toward the police is being completely honest in the statement he made about his interaction with them.  If so, that is reprehensible.  But the police have generally been portrayed as a quasi-fascist organization – not just in Baltimore but throughout the country whose primary goal is to harass and shoot black Americans, specifically young black American males.  And we all know that fascists are supposed to be right wing Republicans.  There is a certain failure of logic in the historical facts and the assertions.  After all, the mayor and City Council are the ones who direct police policy and activities.

Wouldn’t you think that after 47 years of purported repression, the citizens of Baltimore and most of our large cities which similarly have had Democrats installed in the office of mayor for decades, (Philadelphia – 67 years; Chicago – 84 years, as examples) would figure out that the people for whom they are routinely voting, election after election, are not implementing policies which serve their constituents?

The proper way to effect positive change is through the political process and through peaceful protest but definitely not through destruction of public and private property or by throwing stones or shooting at police.  And if the people in our urban ghettos don’t adopt that philosophy – well, Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind.

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