Saturday, August 1, 2015

CRIME AND POVERTY

Picture from a site which sells gang tours of LA. 
Typical media merging of crime and poverty for profit. 

I deeply resent the current association of crime with poverty by rich Neo-Liberals and religious Republicans. Suddenly crime is excused as an automatic result of poverty. This is utter nonsense. 

Despite being White and old, I have also be young and poor. When I rejected my working class family of origin after they physically and psychology abused me for being gay, I was 20 years old and had very little money in the bank. That money soon evaporated due to the scarcity of decent employment during the recession of the early 1970's. I lived from meager paycheck to meager paycheck. But I worked at whatever would yield a paycheck. I did not start selling drugs or robbing convenience stores. 

Many of us in the early Gay Liberation movement were poor, unlike the lobbyist-supporting married gay couples of this time. We demonstrated on the streets peacefully. We did not have money to build flashy floats or corporate-styled banners. We did not fly around to international circuit parties. Despite being persecuted as criminals all over the world throughout history, we also did not exploit the weapons of rioting and looting, even though our brothers and sisters in Manhattan had broken through heterosexual consciousness at Stonewall by rioting. We were poor, but we were not criminals. It took the de facto pardoning of the assassin of one of our greatest leaders, Harvey Milk, to cause a riot. 

Every week there are shootings and stabbings in Boston's minority neighborhoods. Many spokespersons in the political realm are quick to explain this violence as an inevitable outgrowth of poverty. I don't buy it. Why? Because I converse with people who live in those communities regularly. They are the clerks and customers at my local shopping center. They are hard-working people, like the people I came from. And many of them are poor by American standards. Many of them are women, who had children at too young an age. Equating their poverty with the criminal acts of sociopaths is an insult to their hard efforts to make their lives better against massive odds.

The back story of equating poverty with crime in the political realm and in media is simple. Politicians know that Americans will never cough up enough tax dollars to abolish crime or poverty. So, it is self-serving for them to shrug and conflate the two. They can then walk away from the podium and do nothing about either problem. The media are loathe to accept responsibility for the exploitation of crime stories for profits. They are loathe to look at the social impact of their exploitation of gang rap or drug culture for profits. The media love to exploit poverty stories as well. The weeping mother of seven with no teeth at 30 is enshrined like a saint without any follow-up stories about women, poverty, sex education and planned parenthood. It is more likely that her story will be followed by lauding coverage of the birth of quintuplets to a rich women who used IVF. 

Being born poor in America is most often a life sentence. All the touting of entrepreneurial salvation in megachurches only makes the preacher richer and the suckers who pay him poorer. It's an old and proven con game, practiced over and over again on Sundays in impoverished minority communities coast to coast. And who has the ear of politicians and media in those communities? Pastors. Is there any question why the most religious among us are also the poorest, not by choice, but by indoctrination? And is there any wonder why some in those communities turn to enraged criminal violence when they are awakened to the con game? 

Crime is a choice, but most often poverty isn't. They are not intrinsically linked. The greatest crime in a wealthy nation is to ignore the causes of both and do nothing. That is the white-collar crime of the rich and powerful. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

UNBELIEVABLE...AGAIN


Beverly Scott had to resign from the directorship of my beloved MBTA here in Massachusetts shortly after the new governor, Charlie (not stuck on the MBTA) Baker, was inaugurated. Why? Well, in her tenure as director, Beverly tore down an already crippled public transit system to the point it was largely disabled whenever stressed. The past winter, 2014-2015, was a mass transit nightmare here in Boston. In my 55 years of using the MBTA, I had never seen whole-system closures on this scale.

Beverly ran from Boston. She had reasons. Her directorship was market by long absences and lavish travel on the public dollar. There wasn't a conference she didn't attend, it seems. She managed to run for any photo op or interview she could get with the media here in Boston as well. She did a great job of conning the public and fleecing the state's taxpayers.  

Lo and behold, she has been nominated for a 5-year appointment to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) by President Obama. Really? It is noteworthy that Ms. Scott is African-American. Now why would our African-American President choose to nominate an incompetent bureaucrat to a national post with a big salary and benefits?  Cronyism? Now wouldn't that be unbelievable?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FIRE, WATER AND BEES

Strip mine near Billings, Montana.

Our planet's ecosystem is a closed bubble of balance. It is enclosed within the thin envelope of our atmosphere and two magnetically generated radiation belts. This means that nothing can stop the balancing of the chemical and physical composition of the planet. Human technology could influence that balance in favor of our species. However, it has not. Instead, it has set off a sequence of balancing events which will severely challenge human sustainability.
 
Climate change has accelerated desertification of vast acreage across the planet. This desertification has in turn increased global temperatures. Now, these global temperatures and the accompanying drying of the atmosphere has led to huge forest fires in once verdant areas of Northwest North America, including Alaska. This deforestation will lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, increasing global temperatures more rapidly.
 
The exploration for petrochemicals by a greedy and desperate global petrochemical industry is also marring the Earth's topography as well as corrupting ground water. Strip mining oil sands and coal beds is still occurring on a massive scale. Strip mining for precious metals is also being accelerated by the demands of the technology sector. Water supplies are challenged by overpopulation, as seen in the shutdown of large segments of California agriculture.
 
The global collapse of bee colonies and populations of other pollinating species will add to the challenge to food production. As the human population spirals out of control, leading to larger and larger megacities, the likelihood of feeding and hydrating those megacities diminishes. And this is as it should be. The Earth is balancing and the human species, which once considered itself immune from the balance of Nature, will soon learn that it is perhaps less important in that process than a species of tiny, flying pollinators.

Friday, July 24, 2015

TRUE COLORS

Anti-gay rally in Africa where Black lives matter...not LGBT lives.

President Obama, crowned King of Neo-Liberals by an anxious Rightist media in the West, will visit a country which has an abysmal human rights record concerning its LGBT citizens. But this is an afterthought, as Obama tries to seal his legacy as an African-American President before leaving office. The hypocrisy of Obama's Neo-Liberalism is not new.
 
As a gay adolescent, I endured the sanctification of John F. Kennedy, who, with his brother Robert, maintained the status quo of American queer-bashing in the good old-fashioned Roman Catholic way. And, they were enabled by a gay FBI director who was among the most twisted of gay men in history, along with Ray Cohn and Eugene McCarthy.
 
Obama has remained loyal to his cultural roots. He has grudgingly tackled gay issues, like gays in the U.S. military and gay marriage. However, his lack of enthusiasm in supporting these basic acknowledgments of the humanity of LGBT people has been glaringly evident. It will be interesting to see if Obama yields the advice of Kenyan politicians and social leaders to avoid speaking of LGBT rights.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Islamophobia?


Gay man being thrown from a building in an ISIS video.

This report from BBC World Service today explains clearly why I believe Islam to be an evil force in the world. It is a violent tool, physically and/or psychologically, of male patriarchy against women and homosexual men. As a gay man, I will never support any politician, group or cause which allies itself with Islam in any form. If I did, I would be no better than a Jewish supporter of Nazis or a Russian supporter of Putin/Stalin.

Monday, July 20, 2015

FALSE COMPARISONS


I recently saw this (above) picture on Facebook. I suppose the poster thinks it is funny. I don't.
 
This picture represents the lack of serious thought in a society driven by social media, which are basically pages of gossip, exhibitionism and hocking products which people don't need. In many ways, social media are like the community cable channels of an earlier time. Unfortunately, social media are taken seriously by too many people. Community cable was a joke.
 
This picture is an insult to a thinking descendant of legal immigrants to the U.S. of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is drawing a parallel between our ancestors who were legally imported as laborers in the Industrial Era to the current wave of migrants who are illegally crossing borders with no clear likelihood of employment.
 
The Ellis Island (and other ports) immigrants came to the U.S. to work in factories. They were often recruited by relatives who had preceded them. Many were housed in factory dormitories, as rural Chinese workers of today are housed in Chinese industrial centers. My Baltic immigrant grandparents lived next to textile mills in Maynard, Massachusetts. They could easily have looked like the people in the above picture as they sailed into New York harbor in the early 20th century.
 
Industrial Era immigrants were not covered by labor laws. They worked six or seven days per week. They worked twelve-hour days at the discretion of their masters. They worked in poorly heated and poorly ventilated factories in all weather. If they were injured, they were cast out to be supported by their struggling families or by some good Samaritan in their immigrant circle. Some just died on the streets or managed to get back to the poverty of their homelands.
 
After slaving and scraping together savings from their meager wages, some escaped to small subsistence farms. Some of the women chose domestic servitude to factory work. There, they were given even lower wages and worked around the clock on demand. Some, like my grandparents, escaped the mill town for the city. My blacksmith/machinist grandfather got a job in a small metal works and my grandmother worked in sweat shops as a seamstress. Their lot was no better, perhaps even worse.
 
These legal immigrants were not guaranteed anything. They had no social security when they arrived. They had to struggle to learn the English language to even approach citizenship. That process took many years for most. And, they did it, because they were grateful for the chance to participate in American democracy and wanted better for their children. They did not expect Americans to adopt their children by putting them on a jet or sneaking them across a border. They wanted to earn their place and then contribute.
 
If I were to utter the slogan in the picture above, I would be commenting on those migrants who come here illegally to collect, not contribute. I welcome those immigrants who come to this country through the system to contribute to the system. I welcome refugees who come here and immediately apply for refugee status with legitimate needs for asylum. I don't leave the doors to my house unlocked, but there is a doorbell at my front door.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

MOURNING


I don't mourn the dead. I mourn those who will be born to a dying planet. Their lives will be worse from the start than the lives of those before them.