Brain Dropping #163 — Connect The Damn Dots.
Demagogues and other political schmucks love fragmenting perceptions, compartmentalizing and isolating events as a way of ignoring interlocking relationships. For example, the tired and shopworn argument over whether there is a causal relationship between poverty and crime. The conservatives always argue that it’s not poverty but broken family values that breed crime. They say the same about educational achievement – it’s not broken down segregated schools, crowded classrooms and underpaid teachers that are the problem – but once again, collapsing family values. Bullshit.
It is glaringly obvious that the growing worldwide social crises – racism – anti-semitism – the rise of neo-Nazism in Europe – the on-going shooting of unarmed black men – Islamic Jihad – ISIS – the Tea Party loonies – are engendered by the desperation of people driven to despair. On a planet where 2.2 billion live on less than two dollars a day and one billion lack safe drinking water, violent behavior and social disruption are a given.
It is hard to argue against the proposition that the greater degree of inequality in any society the greater the social tensions. In this week’s New Yorker magazine (March 16, 2015) “Richer and Poorer” by Jill Lepore, there is a discussion of what is called the Gini Index which plots the degree of inequality world wide. “Income inequality is greater in the United States than any other democracy in the developed world.” The article goes on to say: “In 2001 the American Political Science Association formed a Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy; a few years later it concluded that growing economic inequality was threatening fundamental American institutions.” To update that finding in starker terms, big money has bought the American government.
Police officers shooting and killing unarmed black men has become commonplace in the “Good Ol’ U.S. of A.” In all the media accounts of these state sanctioned murders, we are never told about the salaries of the officers involved. That economic “dot” is never connected to the “dot” of the demoralized, exploited, angry police officers with spouses and kids, barely scraping by. Among the highest paid police officers in the country are the New York city police officers. Rookies start at $42,000 a year – about twenty bucks an hour. In Ferguson, Missouri it’s $28,000 a year – $14 an hour – just a few bucks more than a high school hamburger flipper at MacDonalds. Are we to believe that this insultingly low compensation for such a crucial and dangerous job requiring courage and astute judgement, does not have an effect on the morale and perceptions of a police officer as he confronts an equally disgruntled kid on the block? That’s a question the “law and order loonies” never ask.