My debt to society

We've got more African Americans in jail than we do in college. That's unacceptable.--John Kerry

In fact, it seems that there are more than twice as many African Americans in college than in jail.

U.S. Census Bureau (2000): African Americans in college: 2,224,181

U.S. DoJ Office of Justice Programs: "Prison and Jail Inmates at MidYear 2003" (p.11): "Table 13. Number of inmates in state or federal prisons or local jails" -- Black Americans in jail: 899,200

Wait! There's more.

"Data compiled by a new study, Cellbocks or Classrooms?: The Funding of Higher Education and Corrections and Its Impact on African American Men, reports that while 603,000 black men were in college in 2001, 791,600 were imprisoned. The study, conducted by the Justice Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., analyzes money spent on incarceration vs. higher education.

"President Vincent Schiraldi admits that there are more college-aged African American men in college than incarcerated. College age is roughly 18 to 24, but the study researched incarcerated men ages 18 to 55 plus. Thus, because it is a larger sample group, the number of men in jail is higher than the number of men in college."


Did Kerry lie? Or did he rely upon favorable or incomplete data to support his argument? Sound familiar?

I work all day long only to come home and find people hacking on me on the forum page. Oh well.

Socialist?? -- Taxpayer, 20:29:41 07/12/04 Mon [1]

You make a nice arguement, Mark. If it's such a big deal to the republicans, why haven't we done away with welfare? The republicans had numerous chances with house and senate majorities to make the change. Are republicans really socialists at heart?

Are you friggin' serious? Reduce or eliminate welfare? And have the Dems start shouting from their highest mansions about death, famine and Alpo omelettes again? Vote for us, we protect you from those hard-hearted Republicans and keep you below the poverty line in perpetuity.

If I remember correctly...... -- Ethel Hozniak, 19:45:12 07/12/04 Mon [1]

"I bust my ass day in and day out and supply myself with everything, that's everything I need. I also bust my ass day in and day out and supply those lazy ding-a-lings with everything they need."

I think I remember you telling us about how your family received welfare benefits during your childhood. If so, maybe you'd like to return a check to the federal government since you can afford to payback for what my generation paid out

Hi, Ethel. Long time no hack.

I really hope you're not comparing my "family" to the able-bodied ding-a-lings. My family consisted of my mom who could not be gainfully employed due to the chronic and debilitating shortcomings of her body. Then we had an 11 year-old boy, a six year-old girl, and a newborn baby. I believe the federal "safety net" was originally designed to help those that had no other real options available to them. Had I known it would make you feel better one day, I would have gladly begged for some Planter's Peanuts rejects on the Square in lieu of leeching off of your screwed up generation.

And trust me, living on welfare some thirty-odd years ago was no picnic. It provided us with a warm townhouse in a housng project. It also provided us with food. Mostly oatmeal, hoddogs, hamburgs, and Kool-Aid, but who's bitching? It sure beat starving to death.

We looked forward to the government surplus giveaways at the Salvation Army, and we looked for bargains at the Goodwill store and the now defunct second hand shop on North Main Street. My grandma always called it "The Dog Store." Your guess is as good as mine as to why. Attending rummage sales at area churches often reaped scores of mostly barely acceptable used clothes when the hand-me-downs were slow in coming. My best clothes always came from Mrs. Jeannette Fox. Looking back on those days, I don't believe her son was ready to cast off all of that near impeccable stuff. I think she occasionally raided his room only out of the goodness of her heart. The first hint came when my Mom died at a very young age. She told me at the viewing that she always considered me her other son. And there remains a special place in my heart for her. My second Mom, so to speak.

It was thoroughly enjoyable being excluded from certain activities only because the more well-healed kids wanted nothing to do with a welfare kid. The stigma associated with being on welfare is nothing compared to what it was back in those days. It was fun fighting some for the very same reason. If your self-esteem wasn't already well past the point of no return, being razzed non-stop only because your Dad dealt you a pile of sh*t sure helped to damage it a bit more. Pushing a shopping cart full of groceries across the Heights did wonders for ones sense of self worth. Fighting with my Mom on a regular basis only because I steadfastly refused to personally spend a single food stamp in any store was always a thrill. Ah, the good old days.

Luckily for me, the Agnes flood came to town and I was hired at Percy A. Brown & Co.: Foods of Distinction. I was thirteen years-old and ended up working there until I was 18 years-old. Once the folks at Percy's slapped my very first paycheck in my grubby little hands, my association with the department of welfare had, for all intents and purposes, ended right then and there. I bought what I wanted and basically fended for myself from there on out. The paltry few pennies my Mom collected for me from that point on went to my brother and sister.

So, I, personally, was supported by the fed's welfare dollars from September 1970 through July 1972. It was a particular demeaning period for this sum-of-a-bitch, but it sure beat being used as a punching bag by an out-of-conrol step-dad that earned a helluva lot of money.

I'll make a deal with ya', Ethel. Have the feds explain to me why the local cops (in whichever municipality we happened to live) would never raise a single finger to help us when my step-dad went blitzkrieg all over us, and then, maybe, I'll consider reimbursing them for "all" that they did for me. They may have fed us for a spell, but they never protected us before we became helpless wards of the state. If they had taken repeat domestic violence a bit more seriously in those days, I might have never ended up on welfare, or living in this backwards state for that matter. And my sister's nose might not still bleed at the drop of a hat. And my brother might not verbally demean himself every chance he gets. And my back might not look like that of a defiant Mandingo.

Sorry, but in my mind, I don't owe either the feds, or your acid-fried generation a plug nickel. I've already paid dearly for what little I received a long time ago.

Ever been whipped bloody? Have you ever been knocked out cold only because your sister ate a Scooter Pie without permission? Did you ever have a car hood slammed down on your skull only because you didn't know what a 5/8 socket was at the tender age of seven? Ever been pulled out of a fourth-grade class and taken to the school nurse's office because the back of your pants were blood-soaked? Did you ever help your ma barricade her short-lived dream home with furniture, scrap lumber, a hammer and nails after hearing that the VA hospital just released your still incensed step-dad? Did you ever experience the abject horror of seeing your bloodied and battered mom planted in the back of a waiting ambulance before the hamstrung local cops would finally consider pulling out the cuffs?

Don't ever dare talk to me about repaying my debt to society. Be happy that I didn't end up a permanent ward of the state after being institutionalized in one of a variety of different ways.

Somebody said that what doesn't kill you only serves to make you stronger.

I'll vouch for that one.

I see the...

...WBFD is starting to light up the forum again. Here's why. Those guys have been waiting six months to learn who would be promoted to the two new Assistant Chief spots. I think our mayor needs to make his decision public already and put all of the infighting and speculation to rest.

At last count, we had 81 fire fighters and 22 of them applied for the two asst. chief positions. Needless to say, lots of folks threw their hats into the ring, so it shouldn't come as a surprse that there would be some grumbling and such after waiting for months on end for a decision.

As far as this backstabbing about promoting a private is concerned, what those folks won't menton is how many times said private was passed over for promotion by a previous administration or two. Especially after he led a very public fight to save two firehouses from being closed a decade ago. Basically, as a city employee, if you buck the system, it might just buck right back at ya.

Six months is more than enough time to make the decision. We need the promotions announced soon so that some of us can get on with things.

Tick tock, tick tock,...

An e-mailer...

...asked me today why I have not posted any pictures of late. He also wanted to know why I haven't really written about much local scuttlebutt.

First off, my 'puter thingy went bye-bye in a puff of smoke, so I fired up this WEBTV bad boy until I can grab another 'puter gizmo. They say I can upload photos on this thing, but I have not found the time to investigate how just yet. Work has been a bit nuts lately. I will find the time, I swear.

In case some of us didn't notice, the non-stop rancor that the previous administration was has been replaced by a sense of normalcy, some peace and quiet as far as city politics and governing in general are concerned.

We haven't erected any shiny temples so far, but little things such as clean streets, mowed grass and financial responsibilty will do nicely before all of the progress finally kicks in. I guess what I'm trying to say is, no news is good news for the time being in a city recently known for it's daily black eyes in the press.

Plus, with my industry being smack dab in the middle of it's busy season, the time I can spend researching all sorts of interesting stuff has been seriously diminished. That'll change too.

Wilkes-Barre has been quiet as of late. And with everything this city has been through, that's a real good thing.

I'm sure it'll heat up soon enough.