What’s Truly Evil?

Immediately after I posted a link to “A Simple Solution to America’s Cop Problem,” an acquaintance wrote, “Wow, that's the most evil thing I've ever heard you propose.” First, I’d like to know what other “evil things” I’ve proposed. Second, I’d challenge the idea that this is evil in any way.

A nation that was so happy with bankrupting its citizens for medical debt that half of the 2016 voters elected someone who promised to return the country to the debtors’ indentured servitude we “enjoyed” before the ACA pretty much has a lock on evil. “More than a quarter of Americans say that someone in their household is struggling to pay medical debt” and that statement is from February 2017. Medical debt is the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the USA. And many Americans are happy with that statistic and the situation, apparently. I’d call that “evil.” In 2014, 40% of Americans were in debt for illness expenses. While the number of actual medical expense caused bankruptcies is often debated, for instance in Snopes.com, we all know it’s high and unreasonably, irrationally high. But the American Way is to never allow public interest to interfere with corporate profit, so we effectively don’t care. That is, also, evil. The Republican healthcare plan originally called “RomneyCare”—and renamed by the racist assholes masquerading as libertarians, conservatives, and other forms of fascism as “ObamaCare”—actually succeeded in reducing medical bankruptcies, so they want to get rid of it. Also, evil.

Leading Causes of Bankruptcy

crchart1If you are bright enough to understand that the nation is willing to let people with physically identifiable diseases and injuries die and be tortured on their way out with a middle-class wealth extraction system that bubbles-up a lifetime of savings and responsible behavior to the idle and destructive 1% investment class it should be perfectly clear to you that any help, sympathy, or compassion for mental health illness is so far past non-existent that it isn’t even imaginary. At best, pseudo-conservatives offer prayers and other superstitious hoodoo as substitutes for actual assistance after a chronically depressed person either breaks down and falls into the black hole of our incompetent and ruthless mental health system or locates the final exit. Cancer patients are expected to continue work through their chemo and radiation therapy to pay for their insurance and mental health patients are expected to rise above their failing brain chemistry and heal themselves. “Work or go broke and die” is the national healthcare motto. That is also evil.

The fact is, this country’s “mental healthcare” is an oxymoron, at best. You can peel back all of the suicide prevention advertising bullshit to find absolutely nothing behind those billboards. The fact is that mental health problems are not only ignored but criminalized in the US. We not only don’t care about people suffering with depression, neurosis, and psychosis, we want to make a profit from their misery. “Cure,” my ass. For most mental health patients there isn’t even a lick of hope for relief. Even the industry admits most-or-all of the prescribed medications and therapies are unproven to be in any way effective.

The other side of my proposal, which was written as a cynical science fiction “solution” to a problem I believe this country will never become adult enough to admit, was to “assist” cops in finding appropriate victims. Many US cities have turned their police departments into armed tax collectors, disguised as something else. Ferguson, Missouri, for example, has a police department the Washington Post described as a “plundering collection agency. (Please follow and read this link. If it doesn’t break your heart, you don’t have one.)” That police department so terrorized the citizens of the city to the point that any sort of police interaction could result in a citizen being hauled off to jail, fined for a variety of insane charges, tossed back on the street even further in debt to the city, fined into unemployment and homelessness, and harassed to the point that even a glance from a cop could result in a totally rational desire to run for safety. Which, of course, gave the cop justification for firing at will because everyone knows a person running for the cops must have committed a crime and probably scared the cop out of his half-wits.

Last year, suicide rates in the US jumped to a 30-year high. On average, about 40,000 Americans commit suicide every year and that number has been fairly constant for decades. That number is also pretty close to the fatality rate of a Vietnam War every year.

Citizens-killed-by-cop numbers are not accurate or complete because state and local departments do not report all police shooting information and some federal agencies, like the Border Patrol, do not provide complete information, but at the least police kill about 1,000 citizens every year. It’s pretty obvious that many cops would like to be free to kill a lot more people. With all of that as background, add to it the fact that millons more Americans have had about all of this life they can stand. If we’re not going to fix any of the country’s healthcare and policing problems, we might as well find a way to blend the two dysfunctions into the best stupid solution we can manage.

And that is exactly what “A Simple Solution to America’s Cop Problem” was all about. Do I think it’s an ideal solution? What? Are you stupid? Of course it isn’t ideal, but I’m just working with the poor material I’ve been handed. Likewise, do I think launching the world’s idiots into space in a marketing campaign like that described in “The Marching Morons” is the solution to the constant down-breeding of the human race that has been practiced in the flyover US states and most of the world’s various theocratic nations for the last 500 or more years? Well, maybe.


A Simple Solution to America’s Cop Problem

What we need to do is to get all of the country’s homicidal cops together with all of the depressed people. The country wants to get rid of heathcare, especially mental healthcare. It costs too much to waste time with people who don’t want to live anyway, right? Better to spend that money on Cadillac medical coverage for politicians, bureaucrats, and corporate executives than to waste it on people who only work for a living and suffer in quiet misery.

don't shootThink about the efficiency a few simple changes in police policy could create. For example, some people are currently decorating their vehicles, homes, and person with ineffive “Don’t Shoot” signs. That is simply the wrong message. Statistics claim that about 94% of people don’t want to be shot by a cop; or anyone else. In a country of 300M people, that leaves at least 15M non-random targets for murderous cops. So, instead of decorating equipment and people with unnecessary “Don’t Shoot” paraphrenalia, the people who want to be shot just need to take the initative and properly label themselves. That way, no “innocent” trigger-happy cops will have to worry about being second-guessed by their more ethical, courageous, competent, and intelligent fellow cops or the general public. “He was asking for it. Read the sign!” will be all the shooter/cop has to say to justify emptying a couple of automatic weapons into a kid or anyone else.

shoot-me-nowOf course, that doesn’t solve the problem of scared cops randomly firing off their weapons at every shadow, squirrel, noise, or innocent bystander, but it’s a start. Training cops to focus their attention on suicidal citizens shouldn’t be all that difficult. We just have to pass a couple of laws that prevent rookie cops (pretty much all of them, based on news reports of cop shootings) from stopping anyone for anything unless they are wearing a proper label and/or their vehicle is properly marked. States could sell “Just shoot me now” special license plate graphics, so cops can look up a victim on their computers before stopping and shooting someone. To prevent incorrect post-mortem second-guessing, mental health clinics could offer free “Just shoot me now” tattoos, since they’re not likely to be capable of providing any other kind of assistance. It would mean that everyone will have to more careful about whose car they borrow (or steal), but that’s just one cost of freedom we’ll all have to suck up and remember.

You’re-Eight-Times-More-Likely-to-be-Killed-by-a-Police-Officer-than-a-TerroristThe end result is that cops can more-or-less fire at will and the “more than 15 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent” depressed people will get what they want too.

A side-benefit is that the faux-Christians might argue that abortion really is a violation of the unborns’ suicidal rights, since even little kids will be able to wear “Just shoot me now” clothing; with their parents’ permission, of course (or not?). So, their little souls will be tossed into the Great Soul Soup and God will be satisfied that they had a shot at Eternity and threw it away. The faux-Christians will get to see lots of unwanted kids being born and get to cheer for the killer cops at the same time. Everybody’s happy . . . unless they are depressed, of course.

odds of getting killed by copsThe important thing is that nobody who wants to live will be getting shot by a “public servant.” Except in cases where the cop in question was hired by someone like Trump’s hero, Joe Arpaio. In special cases like that there will have to be an illiteracy exemption for the innocent cop who couldn’t tell the difference between “don’t shoot” and “shoot me now.”


Thinking Small and Growing Smaller

The United States once did really big things. For about fifty years, we were the inventors of practically everything significant in the world. In the late 1800’s, the United States created a land grant university system that educated children other than just those of the ruling class and created a middle class that drove the nation’s economy, it’s industry, it’s creativity, and its spirit. We created a public education system the rest of the world imitated and, then, improved on while we allowed ours to decay into a pre-prison system. We built cities that redefined urban living. We crossed the continent, first with railroads then with airlines. We electrified cities, then the countryside, and tied it all together with telephones and followed that with the Internet. We went to the moon dozens of times and sent astronauts there six times before 1972. There are branches of science that wouldn’t exist anywhere in the world without American curiosity. There are concepts of democracy, justice, and freedom spreading throughout the world, based on models the United States of America invented. We were the envy of the world.

Then we weren’t. To paraphrase Marlin Brando’s character in On the Waterfront, “We coulda been a contender.”

There has always been a primitive, superstitious character to citizens of the United States. After all, as another move character said about the American people, “We're all very different people. We're not Watusi, we're not Spartans, we're Americans. With a capital ‘A. huh? And you know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts.” All of which is true. And like mutts we’re naturally inclined to knock over trashcans and root through the rubble for a scrap of food or join a pack of other rejected mutts and go feral and become dangerous to everything around us. Along with getting “kicked out of every decent country in the world,” we brought with us a collection of religions that were clearly as insane and useless as the most dangerous ideas humans have ever invented. Today, those religions are driving the country to do smaller and smaller things in the name of money and power and under the pretense of doing a variety of gods’ will.

Take our prison system, for example. In the 1950’s, we decided to move our prison model from punitive to “corrections.” We still cynically call prisons “corrections facilities,” but they no long serve any part of that mission. Today, our prisons are slave-owning, for-profit corporations that drive some state’s legal system to create more and more “crime” to provide those corporations with slave labor. As a result, one of the most embarrassing big things the United States has done since the genocide of the American Indian is creating the world’s highest prison population rate: 724 of every 100,000 Americans currently resides in an American prison. Russia, a dictatorship and repressive totalitarian government, is a distant second to the United States.

Our one and only other big thing is our war machine, jokingly called the “Defense Department.” We have dedicated our national budget and our industry to creating more dangerous and powerful weapons of mass destruction, individual destruction, and everything in-between.

Neuroscience, without much help from government funding or the public, has plodded along learning more about how the human brain and it’s collection of chemicals, electrical systems (neurons and neural circuits), and molecular biology create the individuals we become or could be. Crime and war are two big things that neuroscience could have changed with just a reasonable amount of encouragement, but neuroscience, like evolution, terrifies the superstitious and, more importantly, the people who make bucket loads of money on crime, war, and religion. In fact, those three “special interests” are overwhelmingly the forces that prevented the United States from reaching its potential and will eventually undo the nation and the species.

The fact is we do not control our brains, our brains control us. The combination of chemicals, electrical systems, and molecular biology between our ears and in our gut are the things that control who we are. Knowing that and controlling it would allow us to be anyone we want to be; as individuals and as a species. The trillions of dollars the US flushes down the military-industrial toilet could have been used to get to the core of human conflict and resolve it. The trillions of dollars wasted on our punishment system could be spent on creating happier and more productive citizens, through education, science, and a shared desire to improve the quality-of-life for every person in the country and the world. We could have built a corrections system that enhances lives and freedom. That would have been a big thing, but we’ve devolved into a nation intent on punishing the poor for being poor and declaring war on everyone who won’t hand over their national sovereignty along with their natural and human resources.

The cost of abandoning big things (No, Donny. Your wall is not a big thing.) is that we become smaller as a result. Our world image has shrivelled to a tiny fraction of what it was in November 2016 and it becomes smaller by the day. Our self-image isn’t doing well, either. Fascists and neo-Nazis are symptoms of failure and self-hate, not power or superiority. You don’t set a goal of repressing others, stealing their resources and lives, and propping up yourself at the expense of everything from decency to intellect because you are free, healthy, and happy. Those are the goals of total failure. Those goals are so small, they reduce everyone they touch upon.


When Nothing Means Anything

It struck me, last night about 3AM, that the Age of Trump has proved something many of us hoped wasn’t true: that nothing means anything. Religion, decency, justice, honesty, fairness, truth, reason, and many of the institutions and people who represent those institutions have all been shown to be hollow and insignificant, thanks to the election and support of Donald Trump. There are all kinds of ways to take this sea change: ranging from fighting to restore America’s values to assuming that is a lost cause and going full nihilist. At 70, the fight is pretty much out of me, but I have to hope younger, better people decide there is some point in restoring moral values to our government and country. Otherwise, the American experiment is finished and it was a failure. Best case, the country collapses into disarray and becomes irrelevant. Worst case, we destroy life on this planet in an effort to prove one of the many insane religious scenarios that pollute our national discourse.

Trump’s assault on decency began the moment he entered public life, back in the 70’s. The Republican campaign against all of the values that Trump’s existence opposes has been going on a lot longer than my 70 years. Since the moment Teddy Roosevelt left office, Republicans have been scraping the bottom of the ruling class barrel for candidates and talking heads to lead their class war against working people and the poor. Starting with Taft and accelerating that movement with Reagan, Republicans have lowered the bar for what passes as “leadership” to the point where we now suffer Donald Trump. Personally, I don’t see much improvement in our future, but I tend to see the glass as half or completely full of sewage.

Religion, in America, has taken a radical turn to the right, which is not only traditional for religion (redundant, I know) but reason to doubt the sanity of anyone who still calls themselves a “Christian.” The difference between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is the carpenter-turn-minister character: Jesus. Without Jesus, fundamental Christians are just Jews who hate Jews; unless the Jews are at war with the Muslims. Without Jesus, there is no charity, no humility, no generosity, and plenty of tolerance for hate, war, greed, and prejudice. Without the moderating words attributed to Jesus, Christians are unbounded by any rules other than to pretend to believe in their gods. A rational look at the lifestyles of the evangelicals and televangelists would convince any sentient person that the purpose of religion is to make a very small number of hyper-corrupt people very, very rich. Those people, not surprisingly, are totally behind Donald Trump and his obscene administration. The only interest they have in government is protecting their tax-exemption and Donald has no intention of betraying their trust; unless they actually begin to act like Christians. Not likely, though. Is it?

The country’s frayed and decaying justice system is taking a beating these days, too. Trump is praising cops who violate laws and act like the Gestapo he desperately needs to “reform” this country into the fascist model he imagines will make him fearless leader. Trump and the Republican congress are appointing judges who will set back civil rights, election integrity, and Sessions is reversing every half-progressive order Obama’s Justice Department issued.

There should be some kind of freedom in knowing that nothing matters. It doesn’t feel free, though. It feels lawless, dangerous, and unpredictable.