In today's Sunday edition of the Sacramento Bee, the front page story was an extended piece detailing the saga of a street called Loucreta Drive, which is located in the heart of deeply dysfunctional south Sacramento.
This summer has seen two murders committed on Loucreta within two weeks of each other, and in the last five years, there have been 45 murders committed within a two-mile radius of that street.
When I read an article like this in the newspaper - just about any newspaper - I am always struck by the reporter's seemingly clueless, passive description of the lives of the people profiled in the article. The people's travails are written in a way that makes it seem like bad things - such as murders, arrests, poverty, home foreclosures - just randomly happen to them for no apparent reason.
Scattered throughout the article were statements and descriptions that, seemingly unintended by the reporter, tell us everything we need to know about why people's lives are so screwed up on places like Loucreta Drive, and most other places in south Sac (and all over the nation). Here are some of those random quotes (in bold) from the article, with each followed by my own take on things (in italics):
"In the darkness of a July morning in the bedroom of her south Sacramento
apartment, Beverly Gibson woke to an explosion of gunfire...It was just after 3 a.m. on July 18, and sheriff's squad cars and
ambulances once again were screaming toward Loucreta Drive in the heart
of Sacramento County's Florin neighborhood."
I just looked it up: July 18, 2012 was a Wednesday. What are people doing out at 3am on a workday?
"'But the neighborhood has gone way down," Bisher said. "It's sad. It's a scary place now.' Many
of the street's current residents agree. But poverty, bad credit and
poor choices in their past give them few other options for housing, they
Hmm. What kind of "poor choices"? At least the reporter gives at least some hint of these people being responsible for their own mess.
A search of voter registration
and court records shows that at least 28 people who have lived on
Loucreta in recent years have been arrested in connection with felony
crimes, mostly drug offenses.
All of those things, plus a high unemployment rate and cuts in police and social services, have made life on Loucreta dangerously unpredictable.
Well, committing a felony tends to put a crimp on your employment opportunities. And notice the dig on local government: They just can't live without those social services!
"'Most of the people out here don't work, so it's their job to hang out,'
said [Sheriff's Deputy] Johnson, who has patrolled the area for more than a decade. 'Bad
things can happen when you have so many people just hanging out on the
street with nothing to do.'"
Now we are getting to the meat of it. I wonder, how is it that people are able to not work and "hang out" all day and not starve to death? Whatever happened to the Apostle Paul's admonition that those who do not work do not eat? There must be some way these people are receiving money to survive?
"'I don't have a dollar,' [Toeneshya] Crump answered. 'I'm broke.'
It is a
common theme on Loucreta Drive during the final days of each month, when
government checks are stretched past their limit.
percent of residents in the census tract that includes Loucreta Drive
live in poverty, about double the countywide average, census figures
show. Many of the families have been poor for generations, with
offspring who grow up without much aspiration for school or a work life."
Ahh! Now it starts to come into focus. Perhaps these generations of poor have their aspirations for school and work strangled by those government checks that are stretched past their limit. But they must buy only the bare essentials with those government checks, right?
"Sometimes, one youngster said, families will sell TVs or PlayStations to pay for groceries... 'I had very high goals at one time,' said [Danisha] Gardner, her silver hoop
earrings dangling as she sat next to her mother in the shade of Beverly
Gibson's open garage door. But after she got pregnant at 17, she said,
everything fell apart... Scrolling through her email messages, Gardner suddenly halted her diatribe."
Looks like those government checks are getting spent on silver hoop earrings, TVs, PlayStations, email (on a cell or smart phone, I presume), and diapers and food for babies birthed by 17 year-old single mothers. It's all about choices folks.
There are many more quotes from this article I could paste, but I am assuming you are getting the picture. This is all such simple economics. These people are dysfunctional and are making all kinds of horrible life choices because they can afford it. Courtesy of us, Joe and Jane Taxpayer, these people are able to live their horrific lifestyle because, through the government confiscating money from the productive and functional people of society, we make it possible for these people to continue living that way. As long as those government checks keep coming, what is going to convince them to change their ways? Cut that off, and perhaps the prospect of starvation will properly focus the mind and make so much of that laziness and "hanging out" melt away as they get their able-bodied butts to work like the rest of us!
As I read the article, I always got the feeling that the author was trying to paint a picture of hopeless despair that was supposed to make me feel sorry for these poor, put-upon people. Instead, it made me that much more angry, knowing that they are living these dysfunctional lives at my (and my family's) expense.
I don't see this changing for the better anytime soon. Too many politicians make their living and secure their employment by making as many people dependent on the government as possible. They also realize that once Pandora's Box is opened, you can't close it again: Now that these people are hooked on what FDR called the "narcotic" of welfare (yes, FDR), if Uncle Sugar ever cut off those government checks, you will see places like south Sacramento burning in an orgy of violence and plunder, that would undoubtedly spread to the places where productive people live. No politician wants that to happen on his watch, and in a state like California, the majority of state legislooters will continue to be of the statist tax-and-spend variety who will enthusiastically keep people like the residents of Loucreta Drive on the taxpayer-funded dole.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson