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December 10, 2014

Two Wrongs

Tom McLaughlin

In Ferguson, Missouri USA, a policeman was not indicted by a Grand Jury of all charges brought against him. A white policeman shot and killed a black man. Looting, rioting and mayhem resulted.


As in most cases of the protests that followed, a certain element of the people broke into liquor stores, small markets, and, I think, a shoe store. They stole and then set fire to the establishments.


It was opportune moment of the herd mentality. Somebody breaks a window grabs a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label, a very smooth and expensive Scotch, and disappears. Others follow and clean out the store. A fire is set to cover up any fingerprints.


The person, who initially broke the window, was probably living in the hazy area between “the law” and “not the law.” He had an opportunity, a real opportunity to shift from Mad Dog 20/20, a cheap wine, to the Johnny Walker Black. A night to sit back and sip a really fine Scotch. One that he could otherwise not afford. Some followed.


Shoes with the brand names so coveted and so expensive in that community were next. Boxes and boxes were taken out, distributed to friends and then rushed up to the black community of St. Louis to be resold at half the original cost. Maybe even less.


The same can be said of the bankers and of Wall Street. A million dollars is moved from one place to another and some of the money drops out into people's pockets along the way. Some of this is legal, but most of it is swallowed into the haze of those who know how to swindle people. I don't understand it, and I believe that 99% of most Americans don't either. But we know, somehow, that something is wrong and we expect the government to fix it.


However, just like the Johnny Walker Black that was stolen, most of the people dealing with the bankers won't go to jail either. They return to their big houses and make more money than they did before the crash. Some of the banks have to pay billion dollar fines (can you imagine that amount of money?) but no individual will be blamed. The government just can't catch either of them.


The problem lies in the perception. One wants a new pair of shoes while the other wants to put more money in the bank or where ever they put it. One theft is completely understandable, but the other remains clouded beyond our life experience. Both are wrong.


We could bring the shoe thief and a Wall Street bank/investment president (any one of them will do) and hold a televised public hanging. That will satisfy both groups and scare the be-Jesus out of them.


But the culture they come from, so vastly different yet both the same, will not change until the civilization they come from changes. And that is not likely to happen anytime soon, probably not in my lifetime or my son’s lifetime.


Rather, we will sit back and watch both sides lie and steal their way to a fortune (depending on the perception of a fortune) shaking our heads and being grateful for the good things we have.


Or, you can take to the streets protesting either side. One you know what you’re protesting, the other you're not sure but know it's wrong anyway.


Me? I will sit over here in Borneo and watch.


...Life is good. . . . .


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