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The other day I did my shopping, and yeah, I went to WalMart.
I know it's a shit place for Americans to shop, but it's the best place for a poor dad like me to buy groceries in my town.
I weighed the effect on the economy, and I weighed the effect on my family,
Then I picked a side.
So I was outside the devil's own store, waiting for a ride home from a friend, my cart full of groceries, when a man came ripping out the front door, a WalMart employee literally riding his back. They struggled right in front of me, and as the WalMart employee lost his grip, his captive made a break for it...
I knew he was a shoplifter. i also knew that if I pushed my cart a little to the right, I'd be in front of him. He'd go down, and the WalMart mountie would get his man.
So I picked a side.
I did nothing and the man escaped. I justified it to myself by telling myself that WalMart could easily absorb the cost, and that I really didn't give a damn if the Walton's lost out.
I have a feeling that as times get tougher, so will our choices. We will all eventually have to pick a side--corporatist or populist--and maybe sacrifice our short term interests (like my food budget) for our long term survival.
We will also have to ask if stealing from the Walton's is just petty theft, or if it can possibly be a measure of populist revolt? Consider the Boston Tea Party. All that tea in Boston harbor belonged to someone, and the only reason we remember the conspirators as patriots instead of as thieves is because we eventually won that war, and wrote that history.
How do we convey that message to a country, without looking like we are just empowering criminals?
How do we pick a side, and have America side with us?
Thursday, February 5, 2015 | by Jim Hightower
To check the balance of the scales of justice, look at how the system treats the very rich and the poor. As we've seen, Wall Street barons have grossly fattened themselves by running frauds and scams that wreaked trillions of dollars in damages to working families, homeowners, and taxpayers yet not a single one of them has been indicted or even seriously pursued by the law. More recently, such corporate profiteers as JPMorgan Chase have paid billions of dollars in fines for serious criminal acts, but the executive criminals who pulled these capers have skated free without ever being charged.
Now, meet Gina Ray, who is neither a CEO nor a serious offender, but a hard-hit, low-income American. She's one of hundreds who're being jailed, not by the police, but by a growing network of corporate fee-chasers empowered by state legislatures to fine and imprison poor people who've committed minor infractions. Ms. Ray, an unemployed 31-year-old in Rural Alabama, got caught-up in this privatized probation system over a speeding ticket. Her problem mushroomed, and she was unable to pay, so the corporatized legal system locked her up and hit her with company fees for each of the 40 days she was behind bars. Her original $179 ticket has now surpassed $3,000. She was not told that she has a right to a court-appointed lawyer or offered any alternatives to more fines and jail. "We hear a lot of 'I can't pay the fee,'" says one of the private prosecutors, adding chillingly that, "It is not our job to figure that out."
That last sentence gave me a waking nightmare: "It is not our job to figure that out."
1. Private Prosecutors have no place in a Democracy
2. I'll tell you what else is not "your job to figure out"... innocence and guilt.
It is impossible to have a justice system that derives financial benefit from the guilt of the accused. When that happens, there is no justice - just profit.
Listen to Hightower lay it down in his own voice:
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