The welfare state leads to senseless killings…

August 20, 2013

UPDATE (8-23-13)

So as it turns out that killing of a young man jogging down the street in Oklahoma was not just a random thing. The story now seems to be that it was a gang initiation. Of course it’s still senseless and evil. At least two of the juvenile suspects were black (I saw the photos) and the third one did not look black to me. The victim was white. But somehow, even though I know there is much hate or animosity between the races, particularly between black and white (reluctant to say it but it is true), somehow I doubt race is the main factor here, although I think it is a factor. What we really have here are aimless youths who are bored and have way too much time on their hands. Is the welfare state really a good idea? People having to scratch for a living are more than likely going to be too busy to engage in such things. At worst they might steal, but at least they have a purpose. Of course when things get bad enough in the economy all kinds of things can happen. Given time the whole of society can break down. While that has not happened in the United States yet, certainly a too large portion of our society has broken down. From my observation, no matter what the race, there are people who somehow think they should be taken care of just because they exist on earth and who are not interested in helping themselves. And that feeling is perpetuated by the welfare state. People who are industrious but down and out often cannot get help, but those who are not industrious seem to be carried along.

And even as I write this, in the more current news of the day, a World War II veteran in Spokane, Wa. was murdered with no apparent motive (as of yet) by a young man. The poor veteran had survived being injured on a Pacific island. Evil is always out there.


Do we live in a sick society or is there just evil in the world we cannot explain?

I write this in reaction to a shocking and sad and, well, horrific, and chilling news story I just read. Three teenagers in Oklahoma decided to shoot someone at random. They shot dead a young man from Australia while he was jogging.

Like I say, it could be these things happen no matter what because there is evil in the world, always has been.

But I suspect we do have a sickness in society. I don’t know anything about the perpetrators. But I know we live in a society in which large numbers of young people have no aim in life and no positive social role models. Broken homes are commonplace. The traditional family unit, mother and father at home and so on, is now almost an oddity.

No details of what the circumstance here was has been reported as far as I know. And it could be the break of the traditional family has nothing to do with these youngsters. I mean they could just be evil and that’s it.

In fact, we almost have to hope that such is the case. A society in which you cannot even walk, or run, down the street for fear of being shot at random, is just too scary to contemplate – drive-by shootings in the ghettos notwithstanding (and I suppose they all don’t really take place in what I just called the ghetto).

The greed at the top, well among society in general too, is partly to blame for the degeneration of social values. Those who have influence should pay more attention to social values rather than more and more money – but of course money is important, don’t get me wrong.

Along these lines, I just read a story this morning about the richest members of Congress. And you know that is probably the reason they are in Congress – to use their influence to get rich. They should use it to preserve our social fabric or save it.

That link to the chilling story:

Signs that civilization might be breaking down: (1) A man hits but does not run like the others but is beaten and robbed by a mob, even so (2) Second graders in a public school reportedly engage in sex acts in class and the teacher didn’t see a thing…

January 23, 2011

Weird and bad stuff can happen anywhere, in the big city, in small towns, and in the countryside. But today I address to incidents from the big city urban environment:

(My residence is in a relatively, I stress relatively, peaceful medium-sized town in the relatively rural north of California, but I spend most of my time driving to and through the big cities.)

Two seemingly unrelated recent incidents come to my attention as indications, only indications mind you, that civilization as we might have thought we knew it is breaking down.

No. 1:

In Los Angeles — technically Hawthorne, Ca., but it’s all LA to me — a man crosses the street, gets hit by two different cars whose drivers flee the scene (he later dies) and a woman who stops to help him is hit, and a man who accidentally hit that woman does the right thing and stops but is attacked by a mob and robbed. Local police say they’ve never seen anything like it.


The story:


This story caught my attention in particular because by eerie coincidence I was at or near the scene, I think, not when all this happened, but maybe on the same day (I’d have to check the story again). It was described as being on Crenshaw Boulevard near I-105. I was at that very intersection the other day in my job delivering freight. And like I always do in the threatening urban jungle environment, I worried about what would happen if I accidentally hit something or someone — of course I should worry, it is not cool to hit something or someone anywhere, but it could be fatal (to me) in that environment. I mean I don’t want to be Reginald Denny.

I think the explanation for the bizarre behavior here might have been that low lifes prowl the streets looking for any excuse and opportunity to engage in their nefarious acts. The stories I read did not describe the racial makeup of the actors involved, but knowing the area I suspect race could have been a factor.

No. 2:

Now we get into, did this really happen? or is it all bogus? It’s kind of a journalistic conundrum or maybe paradox is the better word. I mean as a former working journalist I always felt strongly that my job was to report news, good or bad, not engage in covering it up. People have a right and need and a desire to know what is going on around them, well maybe except for this second grade teacher in an Oakland, Ca. public school. Its seems, if you can believe reports originating from some pupils, that some of his charges were engaging in sex acts in the classroom and parading around at least partially undressed without him knowing it. How exactly could this be? Not how could the kids have done this, really, but how could the teacher not know? I think he might get marked down on classroom control in his next evaluation.


The story:


Children have played doctor (the kind of euphemism for I’ll show you mine if you show me yours) since time immemorial (or at least since their were doctors, and probably before).

There were reports that some of the children engaged in oral sex — second graders mind you. I suspect that such behavior might not actually be all that unusual, if you really think about it, but in a classroom at a public school? Local parents were disturbed, reports said. They said they came to the realization that they did not know what was going on in the place where they send their children to each school day.

Back to the journalistic question. We have all heard several reports of child molestations described in detail by children and later found out that they were apparently not true (although, unfortunately they are all too often true), that the children were prompted by adults who had ulterior motives.

In the current Oakland case, it could be just a false rumor solely from the children or it could even be something concocted by someone out to tarnish the school or the teacher or the administration there, who knows?

One might say these stories should not be reported on until facts have been investigated thoroughly. But people have a right to know if such things are going on with their children. In news you can’t wait both because if you do your competition won’t, and if you waited every time until all the facts were thoroughly researched there would be no news to report or it would be so stale as to be useless.

But it would be a shame if this second-grader sex scandal turned out to be purely bogus after the local school and the local school districts and schools everywhere get such bad publicity over it.

UPDATE: And now before I even post this blog, I have to update it. I listened to a talk show on Bay Area radio station KGO last night and it seems to be that now it is believed by authorities that the reports of sex among the second graders is true (of course we do not know for sure, nonetheless). But worse, more than one Bay Area teacher called in to say that other such incidents have happened. One teacher said that she told a reporter about one such incident and later was reprimanded by her principal for talking. The principal reportedly tried to cover the whole thing up, telling everyone that nothing had happened. And that is why in journalism you report things as you get the info, verifying facts and information the best you can, of course. If you hold on to it, those who would be embarrassed or held liable will do their best to cover up and see that the story never sees the light of day, or that if it ever does it will be so long after the fact that no one will be interested and witnesses will forget.

In the discussion on that radio program it was noted that children are constantly bombarded these days with sexually explicit material in the media (primarily television and movies and music), even in offerings aimed particularly at younger people. You know that has to have some effect — wouldn’t you think?

But the real culprits here:

The parents.


If you set the example at home, your children should be able to handle the world. Wickedness and debauchery have always been with us and always will be. The Bible tells us of these things, such as in the accounts of Sodom and Gomorrah. The more things change, the more things stay the same — but the foregoing seems disturbing to me even so.

Not much to be gained from prolonged torture debate…

May 14, 2009

President Obama’s abrupt U turn on releasing more top secret torture photos seems strange, but I am not sure that I don’t agree with his decision.

I am 100 percent against water boarding and other torture, but releasing photos of torture and abuse probably serves little purpose other than to take another dig at the Bush/Cheney failures. I am not sure that it would endanger our troops, but I suppose it would provide more fodder for propaganda for our enemies in the Middle East wars. And why our torture is worse than their much publicized on the web beheadings and other mutilations, I have no idea.

But the bottom line is we know our government tortured poisoners. There is disagreement over whether we got anything useful out of it all (although there are at least strong indications we did not). And most importantly, President Obama has made it the policy that we will cease torturing (of course the liar George W. Bush claimed we did not torture while we were).

We can’t undo or deny what was done in the past. We need to move forward. But whether investigations should or will proceed is a matter for those who instigate and run such investigations to decide, I suppose.

It would seem impractical and highly unjust to me though if lower or mid level or even highly stationed persons were brought to justice but those at the very top, namely Bush/Cheney, were not . We all know that Bush/Cheney ordered the torture (I believe I heard Cheney publicly acknowledge it) and that they ordered the legal opinions that they thought would cover them.

The deciding factor in all of this may well be the American public. I may have not read all the polls or weighed them, but at this point I am unsure of what the public’s attitude is, other than a collective ambivalence, or maybe outright lack of interest to the whole story. Yes, there are those who are simply steadfast against torture, yours truly included, and there are those who figure if it’s done to “bad guys” who cares? But in the vast middle ground I think the public does not really know what to think other than the fact it all seems rather uncomfortable to have to think that torture in the name of the USA has been revealed for the world to see, but gee, maybe it was necessary (I don’t think so).

So personally, as disappointed as I am about the fact that our government broke with a long-standing moral position that we would not torture, I think not much will be gained by wrangling over who is at fault. We know the answer to that. If we start prosecuting former presidents and vice presidents our whole system is in jeopardy, even though I do not believe anyone is above the law.

Would I mind if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were prosecuted as war criminals? Half of me says no. But the other half says yes. Who would ever want to be president or vice president again if it was thought that after one’s term of office his or her adversaries might prosecute for policy decisions?

And then there is the question of what did Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it and if she thought torture was so wrong, why did she not speak out earlier?

I don’t know. But I do know that while Bush and Co. had a lock on the presidency and the congress, to speak out would have been political suicide (not that such is a good excuse).

And one last thing. While I would just as soon see that everyone move on from the torture debate, I also think we have a problem from now on out for the safety of any of our military personnel or anyone else who is captured by an enemy. We can hardly urge or exert pressure on enemies to follow the Geneva Convention rules on humane treatment of prisoners when we broke it ourselves. We have lost that tool, perhaps forever.

We tortured but few seem to really care…

April 17, 2009

So it’s official. We already knew our government was involved in torture. Some folks, perhaps the majority of folks, did not seem to care. After all they were just torturing r.. heads who were Islamic extremists hell bent on destroying us.

In the minds of many, even though torture is by definition morally wrong, two wrongs make a right because we are on the right side and the supposed benefits of torture accrue to us.

In reality there is no solid proof that torture produces any positive results. If you torture me I am liable to say anything to make you stop – but it will not necessarily be the truth.

And does it occur to anyone who supports torture of evildoers (convicted or not) that torture is morally wrong, even if it might be for the cause of saving others?

More importantly, perhaps, the fact that our government is now known to torture or to have tortured means that we now have no legal or moral grounds on which to object to torture done on our own people by others.

Also, the torture we have done is connected to wars and to war crimes. We hanged Japanese and Germans for war crimes. On what authority?

Might our own leaders be subject to whatever authority we used against war criminals?

And here is the most baffling of all to me: where is the outcry from our churches?

I would think the clergy from the various churches would be the first to decry the moral outrage of human torture. But for the most part they are strangely silent.

Maybe that is why that although I believe in God or at least a higher power, I do not attend church. I believe. I don’t need to make a show of it. I may believe more than some who do.

Perhaps I watched too many war movies as a child. I always thought those dirty Japs and Krauts were the immoral ones who tortured and that we were on the side of goodness and right and that we treated prisoners humanely.

Again, where was the outcry from our moral leaders?

I’m waiting. I’m listening. I don’t hear anything!