First of I want to applaud National Public Radio (NPR) on the fact that they tend to tackle news topics that traditional news outlets, in the United States, tend to either ignore or shy away from. And with the stories that the traditional news media does take on, NPR tends to go into greater depth than traditional news outlets; and they welcome comments from the general public on the air. Not something that traditional news outlets would even consider.
And now onto the topic at hand.
It seems that municipal courts across the country have decided to take a course toward greater discrimination against the less economically advantaged (ie. the poor) all in the name or profits. You can say all you want about how these municipalities are only doing what they can to raise revenue and that they are not profit seeking because they are local government. But no matter what you say, their behavior is very much profit seeking, even if the revenue they receive isn’t actually profit by definition. When did the greed that is prevalent in the most capitalistic nation of the developed world start to invade the halls of government. I guess one might say that it was inevitable with the absolute lax attitude that every level of government, in this country, takes toward regulation of industry, labor policy, and oversight. We live in a nation that espouses freedom of opportunity to all by way of the “American Dream.” But who now is actually able to live that dream. There was a time when opportunity was seemingly endless, at least for most in this country. Where the lower classes were easily working hard and achieving said dream. One could say that an example of this was after World War 2 where my grandparent’s generation were returning from war, working hard for fair wages, and creating the “Baby Boomer” generation. Said generation would be that of my parents. But it was also found that many were being denied this opportunity based on race, creed, and political beliefs. This resulted in the extremely damaging witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his panel of “Un-American” activities. Prior to this we were on track to ensure fair pay to all by way of labor policy, industry regulation, social policy, and eventually the civil rights movements. A note: movements are intentionally plural because I’m including racial equality, gender equality and equality of sexual orientation and identity. This “Red Scare” of the 1950s overshadowed any and all progress that had been made toward fair labor policy and protections for the average worker. And this stunted progress is also what provided for the opportunities allowing the lower classes to transition into the middle class by way of honest hard work. Instead our nation has made a proverbial 180 and has decided to start de-regulating industry in the very misguided belief that if industry is given the freedom to do as they will, then the benefits will trickle down to the workers who are honestly working hard. This seems to be guided by a modern version of the “invisible hand” as discussed in the writings of Adam Smith. But these voters and policy makers seem to be forgetting the history of “western civilization.” History very clearly disproves this belief as is evidenced in the industrial revolutions of Europe and North America. Perfect examples are the conditions of the lower classes in Victorian England as is pointed out in almost every novel by Charles Dickens. Personally, I never liked reading his stories as the plight of the poor shown in them really depressed me and brought up anxiety because I can see many of the signs shown in Dickens’ works as existing now, albeit in a now 21st century version. Examples also exist elsewhere, like in the events leading up to the first French Revolution, yes I did say first. This is shown in the works of Victor Hugo. And in case you didn’t pay attention in history class, every french revolution and every subsequent republic was directly influenced by our own American Revolution and the works of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexis de Toqueville. It seems that the french understood clearly what Jefferson referenced in that if a government fails to meet the needs of its people and working within the system results in no improvement, then the only recourse is revolution of the people. I am however paraphrasing. And it also clearly appears that this notion has been completely lost on the american public. Now I’m not trying to incite revolution, but the people and government should be aware of that very clear threat.
So the broadcast reveals that municipalities are abusing their authority, through the courts and police, to oppress their constituents in the name of justice, rule of law, and profits. Where is the oversight from the respective state and federal governments? Why does it seem more and more that we, as a people, are having to turn more and more to the federal courts to impose oversight and change in policy in the states because they fail to keep their house in order and lose sight of the guaranteed rights in the federal constitution? Have the states completely forgotten that they are also bound by the federal constitution as the supreme law of the land and that their own constitutions, charters, and laws must, at minimum, meet the standards put forth in the federal constitution as a requisite for remaining a part of this union? What has happened? Our local governments are supposed to represent the common will of the people the most directly, over that of the states and federal governments; as is evidenced in the theory of Grassroots Democracy and the ideals of this nation. But it seems that our national government has the greatest notion of the common will at mind. Certainly more than our respective states and municipal governments.
So I leave you with this. Think about these events. Try to apply it to the bigger picture and stop saying that that happens there and not here. Realize that what affects one affects most, even across the nation. Think about it.
As always, these are my own thoughts and opinions. I exercise my rights as granted by the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and especially of the First Amendment. If I am incorrect in any of the facts presented (NOT the opinions, as there is no incorrect opinions, just misguided ones), please do not hesitate to let me know.
Well thought out and intelligent comments are welcome.