Sunday, September 6, 2009

Poverty- It's the Law

Everyone, I have been lax, and I apologize. It's just been one of those weeks... On Thursday, UWYo President Tom Buchanan announced a generous gift from the Mears family which will be used to get the ball rolling in the "reinvention" of the geological museum on campus.

In all honesty, I have spent more time devising ways of trying to help people understand that this man, who is a servant of the public at a land grant institution and who is, fundamentally, a liar (his words on air Thursday elevated him from the realm of spin doctor to LIAR), ought to be fired outright for biting the hand that feeds him, and then struggling to convince myself if the public doesn't want to stand up for themselves, I need to let that one go because it's not my job and it's stressing the hell out of me... than I have spent on pretty much anything else.

Yesterday the FFM and I escaped to Fort Collins where we shopped and ate sushi, and I feel better today. And I remembered it was days ago that I said Edison is back to guest on a favorite subject of mine: Poverty.

In this case, Rathbane further enlightens us from a socioeconomic perspective. I will print that below, while I continue to chew on the social poverty that pervades our daily lives, here in America. Here ya go, and it looks like he'll be back soon with "The Makings of Monsters and Criminals." (Perhaps he will have an answer to the plague Tom Buchanan has brought upon my soul.)

Poverty, on the whole, isn’t created by low income. It’s created by lack of work. At say Fifteen Samoleans an hour times 50 hours a week, one is well past the power curve of One Hundred and Fifty George Washingtons an hour at null hours. Financial hardship drives everyone crazy, and carries with it other vices that tend to multiply the effect of poverty and drives the crime rate through the roof. I had a recent discussion with a friend of over 25 years who is a very successful criminal attorney. When the economy started heading south, he started smilin’ & stylin’. He’s putting together some statistics for me, but on the whole crime is up. If you don’t believe me, go to your local cop shop or District court and compare the numerosity of criminal cases. Small crimes are becoming more popular, and these will be followed by an onset of the larger crimes including murder and mayhem.

1. Law The offense of willfully maiming or crippling a person.

2. Infliction of violent injury on a person or thing; wanton destruction: children committing mayhem in the flower beds.

3. A state of violent disorder or riotous confusion; havoc.

Yes… it’s a real crime. There’s a great case that was defended by good old Honest Abe, in which an altercation resorting to fisticuffs ended with one mutual combatant biting the nose off of the loyally opposing and, slightly less, cheeky fellow. It’s still taught in "Evidence" classes when they cover cross- examination techniques.

In bad economies, people cut corners when things get tight, and a lot of this cutting begins to becomes criminal behavior. Repay the little people that you owe first. Hire little people rather than large companies when you can. Look where they spend their money, and see where your dollars support your community. Not only will you enhance the economics of your community, but you will also save money. I’m not advocating stupidity here. Don’t hire people that you don’t want around your kids, or in your home. Don’t hire incompetence, the uninsured, lawbreakers, or the grossly unreliable. Large companies, and corporations tend to have a need for additional profits. They are often heavily financed, and are also expected to generate additional profits for their shareholders. Granted, they create opportunity for profit investing, but they only benefit the banks and shareholders. They don’t benefit you. I have a former, ex, and "never again" client who once made a fortune by running crews of workers without withholding, FICA payments, worker’s compensation insurance, or unemployment benefits. He was able to quote projects for less than 75% of legitimate companies. He has also been prosecuted.

Becoming a criminal is sort of like the velveteen rabbit, it doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, I realize that there is a criminal culture, in which children learn to be criminals as part of the family business. I have seen it, and have defended it. These are the dyed-in-the-wool drug families, rip-off clans, and so on. Nevertheless, most become criminals out of perceived necessity. The perception is that the need of the self and family can’t be met in any other ways. Yes, we have charity. Yes, we have food stamp programs. Yes we have programs for women with infant children. Yes, we have food pantries. Yes, we have welfare of many kinds. None of these alone or in consort meet all perceived needs. In bad economies people tend to pick-up vices in rates grossly exceeding the norm. Alcohol consumption and illegal drug use increases. Cigarette consumption increases. It is for this reason that during recessions and depressions there is generally more competition in the basic vice areas. Smart governments also don’t increase taxes on the minor vices. They leave folks alone, and let them hide in their vices as long as the people behave. I am at this point, just prior to the Laborday weekend of 2009 willing to say that the depression will be announced sometime just after Columbus Day. I doubt that even Obama would be daring, or stupid, enough to announce that we are already there. They will wait and possibly delay third quarter reporting until the last moment. All of the Czarships, and bail-out plans will have been in vain. So, what did the governments do? They increased taxes on minor vices. What is happening? Stores are cutting inventories, and hoping to have enough supply to meet sales. This change is visual, as is the general inventory reduction in many stores except the big boxers. The other thing is that we find that the theft of alcohol and especially cigarettes is jumping. This is increasing supplier and retailer costs. As cold weather approaches, you will actually see people pocketing beer (most commonly) in convenience stores. I have already seen this on client tapes. Cigarette deliveries are being hijacked. The deal is simple. A two-wheeled handcart at today’s prices will hold about $7,500 of retail cigarettes. The truck backs up to a store, and runs a load into the store. One guy distracts the delivery person in the store. Another loads a vehicle with cases of cigarettes. Cases hold 30 cartons. The whole operation can take less than two minutes. Mow the delivery person has to lock the truck before leaving it, or the wholesale distributor needs to hire a second delivery person. It pushes prices higher, and raises the probability of criminal activity. The solution isn’t adding more police to arrest criminals, it to remove the probability of crime.

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