Thursday, September 4, 2014

Targeting the Poor

The Washington Post has a sob-story about how St. Louis County municipalities such as Florissant generate revenue from those citizens in poverty.  The story revolves around the case of a single mother of four who had a number of traffic violations and warrants for failure to appear in court.  She didn't show up in court because she could not afford to pay her fines. 

Her story is rather extreme, and I certainly have some sympathy for her.  There are speed traps, cops do target people and use ticky-tack city ordinances to harass citizens and kick up evidence of other crimes.  It is a legal system and not a justice system, and it functions primarily to fund more government jobs and enrich the lawyers who help write the rules.    

The fact is that, these days, if I get nailed for speeding, I don't have to worry about expired plates or my lights being out or no insurance, or being able to afford the fine.  On the other hand, I haven't gotten a speeding ticket since 1998.  I think I have had two moving violations and one other total in the last 30 years, and one of those was bogus for going through an intersection on yellow -- which was perfectly legal.  When I was young and poor and drinking every day, I was making other bad decisions and trying to beat the system which ended up costing me more when I could least afford it.  I've perhaps unwisely wasted money on lawyers since for other reasons but only because I knew I had the money to cover it. 

One of the reasons poor people are poor is because they make bad decisions and then compound those with more bad decisions trying to extricate themselves.  The woman in the story has four tattoos along with her four children by, likely, different men to whom she was never married.  The article complains about the legal setup, but it feeds on the stupidity of those who get caught in it.  As long as a person blames someone or something else for their troubles, nothing will change.  Change has to start in the attitude and approach of an individual.

I do not like our current system of government or our current law enforcement structure, and I detest our legal system.  Nevertheless, I recognize that, as a whole, we have the kind of system that we deserve.  We have brought it on ourselves, and it will change when enough of us start to change.  If we would have liberty and freedom of opportunity, we have to be moral and prudent and responsible individuals.         


  1. " If we would have liberty and freedom of opportunity, we have to be moral and prudent and responsible individuals."

    Well said. The alternative is forming up on the horizon however.