Mendocino County Today: Thursday, Sep. 28, 2017

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PRETTY WARM IN BOONVILLE WEDNESDAY, reaching 95 downtown about 2:15. But by 11pm it had dropped all the way down to the low 40s. Temps are expected to gradually return to seasonal but breezy levels during the daytime by Friday and stay that way for the following week. Fire danger remains high.

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FORT BRAGG NOTES

by Rex Gressett

Fort Bragg’s Monday evening City Council meeting started off as a dazzling affair. It ended up in a shocking true life confession of the lust for power. Beats any soap opera going.

The meeting began at 6:00 as usual, but from 5:00 on, the insiders had been conducting a celebration for Fort Bragg’s volunteers. When those of us who had not actually volunteered to do anything over the course of the year started trickling in, we discovered there was still cake left over and good coffee. Councilman Dave Turner graciously suggested that they give me a piece of undeserved cake on the premise that I volunteer my opinion. The City Council was unusually well dressed. City Clerk June Lemos was stunning. It was a kind of seasonal return to the rigor of the political arena after City Council vacations and the trips to Japan. They were dressed to the nines, filled with cake and ready to go.

Lots had had happened since the last meeting. While the City Council was vacationing in Scotland and eating sushi in Japan, the Fort Bragg Planning Commission had been rolled, got irate about it, and gone to the press. The people of the city had been dumbfounded as a vulgarly corrupt Hostility House blew past community complaints, intense City Council pressure and a complaint by the Development Department challenging the HH’s use permit. It looked like the end of the line for the shelter, but the social worker elite ducked the punch. Hostility House went home happy after blowing up Planning Commission deliberations with a drop-in Marin lawyer who rode roughshod over the Commission and produced a deal that changed exactly nothing for the homeless or the community. He reduced the complaints of the many into so much wastepaper. Then in short order the city received an immaculately written, superbly reasoned 40-page appeal to the City Council of the Planning Department’s cooked up deal. The email version of the appeal had 43 (!) attachments. Citizen activists were not going to lie down for a trumped up whitewash. They want to meet Robert ‘The Epstein’ Epstein on his own turf (Crazykids), at law. They believe in themselves and their right to self government. Should be interesting because The Epstein also believes in The Epstein.

All of that happened while the council was on vacation. The appeal comes up at the Oct. 3 meeting. The City Council is directly in the headlights. But not this week.

This week was supposed to be a cakewalk.

The consent calendar sailed by like a paper airplane and the council moved on to general business. It was supposed to be so easy, a mere resolution to have the City Manager to polish up the proposed code of civility. Being against civility in general is a hard case to make. Somehow I was maneuvered into taking that position. I am still wondering how it happened.

Government on earth cannot exist without public participation. Every political power from kings to city councils requires that the public be present at official moments as visible sanction of their authority. It would be much simpler for the City Council or any governing board or body to rule by edict from the privacy of their offices, but it would look so bad.

If our City Council acted without the participation of the public, it would be a statement that they don’t need us, don’t work for us, and don’t give a damn — none of which is true. Therefore our elected representatives do the the important policy making of the city at meetings in which the public is invited to listen and make fiercely proscribed comments and remarks.

I don’t oppose civility and in particular not at City Council meetings. I do not think that having a code automatically impinges upon the First Amendment. Unfortunately, at Monday night’s meeting I worried out loud that it would. I was provoked.

On reflection however, I realize that Mayor Lindy Peters is right — the City Council is there to conduct business and it has to have rules.

Codes are sometimes very useful in human affairs. They can be appropriate in a wide range of circumstances. There is the Code of Hammurabi that was so helpful to so many. There is the Journalist's Creed. There is the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. There is the rule of St. Benedict and the Five Pillars of Islam. There is the Cricket Code of Conduct. All are codes. I suppose the City Council will not be harmed by having one.

And yet I advocated from the podium that they ought to reject this code of civility. What, you are no doubt asking, is my problem? I was undone by Simon Smith’s comments before that because it is such a crummy little code. It is the kind of patronizing thing that a too sweet kindergarten teacher would extol in chalk to little ones.

Pay attention

Listen

Be inclusive

Don’t gossip

Show respect

Be agreeable

Apologize

Give constructive criticism

Take responsibility

Tell the truth as you know it.

That’s a code? For what grade level?

I was concerned not because they were suggesting formalizing protocol and striving for a greater harmony of reasoning within our community deliberations. I was annoyed because the things that they demanded in this code of civility fell so far short of what civility really is. Civility is not servility. And neither courtesy nor reasoned dissent is a child’s game. The City Council is an adult place where we are expected to pay attention. Personally, I have never seen anything else.

We do not always have to apologize like a child who cannot be presumed to understand the big adult world. We listen not because it is written up somewhere on a big screen, but because we are Americans with a profound history of participation in democratic processes. The code presumes that we must be restrained from inclinations that none of us have, and given guidance none of us needs.

These are admonitions you would give to a child. I think that parameters of courtesy might be established that are more authentic and adult than this kindergarten list. But Mayor Peters and City Manager Linda Ruffing were all for it as a means of enforcing classroom order. These government types are patronizing without any intention of being so. It is in their DNA.

I kept this view to myself as Linda read the list with nauseating pseudo empathy for those whom she cannot prevent herself from seeing as ignorant folk being instructed in the basics.

My problem with the code of civility was that it seemed to be insinuating what we should think by limiting how we could say what we were saying. I got over it.

But imagine my amazement when a resounding eloquent thundering rejection of the proposed Code of Civility emanated from those who had first proposed it, blasting all expectation and blowing minds like birthday candles. Simon Smith had arisen in wrath.

Simon and I have never been introduced socially but I know that she speaks before the council on occasion. I have noticed that she manages to be both glib and trite simultaneously as some people are ambidextrous. This time she thundered with heartfelt passion.

Simon Smith admitted that when she first heard about the code of civility she had been quite excited and enthusiastic that this unruly and unreliable electorate of ours was at last going to have their collective face slapped up by a little official restraint. Good deal. Then apparently she read the code that they proposed.

WTF?, she mused. Up she went unto the council in a passion of outrage to defend the podium from the Orcs.

I told you, she told the council, I don’t like to waste time and here you are. Frankly it shows a lack of interest. I see that you were not paying any attention when I personally volunteered to provide Fort Bragg a real code of conduct. Don’t you remember that I told you I have been “extensively” involved in drafting codes of conduct for all sorts of agencies or companies or something? A real code ain’t no joke. It conveys power, it puts the right people in charge. It describes in detail what forms of behavior are not acceptable, uses clear examples of unacceptable behaviors and includes a transparent discussion of consequences.

You could hear her savoring the word consequences. Then rising to her finale she told us, Hey people, Heather Hayer and two cops were killed by white supremacists and they did not have a code of civility either.

Off she went like a tiny choo-choo puffing steam.

I would like to dismiss Ms. Smith’s remarks. She will never get to impose penalties or impose sanctions on those she does not agree with, however much she might want to. I guess she gets to do it in her professional work, but it isn’t happening in Fort Bragg.

She can be as angry as she wishes that the City Council fired the City Manager. They did it legally. She can wish until hell freezes over that she can somehow put a stop to all this opposition and debate and argument and upset. We are going to do it anyway. She can try to put us back in the political correctness box but she cannot succeed.

Simon Smith is an apologist and participant in the local Go Party and a partisan of Linda Ruffing. But she is much more than that. She is the Soviet party boss, the commandant of the prison camp. She is the true believer who hides the lust for authority behind contrived sympathy until the party gains control. She is the relentless manipulator for power. She is Lenin or Hitler or Pol Pot in their salad days. She knows what she wants and she knows damn well she is going to have to take it away from you. She is the apostle of political correctness and she knows the power of that phrase as the innocent will never know it.

Simon Smith is what you get when you lose the power to govern yourselves and what do you know? At our own City Council meeting in little Fort Bragg, she is right there waiting.

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Silver

CALEB SILVER, 26, has rejected an offer from the DA of 15-to-life for his presumed murder of Dennis Boardman. Silver has opted for trial. Jury selection begins next week, testimony may begin as early as October 10.

SILVER was arrested near Ventura a year ago in April and brought back to Mendocino County where he has since been held in the County Jail, unable to post bail. He is also being held for several felony burglaries along the Mendocino Coast and in Lake County.

BOARDMAN, 40 years Silver's senior, had lived in Boonville for many years on the same properties as Silver when Silver was a child. After many years as a hopelessly impaired alcoholic, "Dennis," as we all knew him, had been sober for nearly ten years when he was found bludgeoned to death in his Fort Bragg home on January 2nd of 2016 at the age of 67.

CALEB SILVER was soon identified as "a person of interest." He had been staying with Dennis in Dennis's modest Fort Bragg home. When Dennis's truck, with its distinctive handcrafted camper, was found abandoned in Carpenteria within two weeks of the popular Fort Bragg man's death. Silver was arrested in Ventura soon after.

TIM STOEN is prosecuting the case. Eric Rennert of the Public Defender’s Office is representing Silver.

IT IS STOEN’S contention that Silver had waited for Boardman — a vigorous man in his sixties still quite capable of defending himself — to fall asleep before bashing in his head with a hammer.

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SELDOM good news on the scanner. Last night (Tuesday) a little before 10, we learned that there was a possible suicide in Yorkville. A few minutes later came the terse report, "Confirmed 11-44 (deceased)." Yorkville is a large area. The suicide had occurred in the vicinity of mile sign post 43, which translates as not far from the Yorkville Market. The name of the deceased has not been released.

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A READER is curious about dope stats, specifically if local law enforcement gets its share of the local dope trade. Yes. As of March 2016, local cops have taken in a cool $7.5 million since the restitution program began with the election of DA Eyster in 2011.

THE BEAUTY of the local marijuana biz, you might say, at least so long as the love drug remains at least partially illegal, is how lucrative it is to so many people, including the forces of law and order.

CRITICS COMPLAINED that Eyster's approach to marijuana busts was unfair to people who couldn't afford to "pay to play." A judge called it "extortion."

BUT THE ALTERNATIVE to bustees not getting the option to pay a proportionate marijuana fine is a long slog through the legal system, at the end of which they just might get themselves a felony conviction and a jail sentence. Settling for a fine and a minor misdemeanor saves everyone time and expense.

CALIFORNIA'S Health and Safety Code Section 11470.2 allows a DA to offer deals like Eyster's, although he's the only DA in the state to swap would-be felonies for fines and misdemeanors, with the fines going back as restitution to law enforcement for their costs in busting growers and "interdicting" them as they travel up and down Highway 101 with their product.

WHEN EYSTER took office, he inherited some 500 open felony cases for marijuana-related crimes. His predecessor, Meredith Lintott, had filed on everything pot-related. The average time to resolve a marijuana related case, a grand jury looking into Eyster's break-through pot prosecution strategy found, was 15 months, with the County Jail jammed to the rafters with pot farmers. It was crazy to devote so much time and effort to marijuana cases that should be spent on the violent crimes that everyone truly wants prosecuted.

EYSTER'S approach to marijuana cases has been a huge success, with more than 500 defendants having paid to play. He told the grand jury that the recidivism rate for those participating in the program is 10 percent as opposed to the overall recidivism rate of 40 percent for all convicted defendants in the county.

THE DA’s OFFICE does not get the restitution money. It goes to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and to the County's other police forces in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg. The last time we looked, the monthly restitution dough was rolling in at more than $100,000 per month.

WITH THE COUNTY'S marijuana licensing program a confusing mess, busts for illegal cultivation, and environmental crimes associated with illegal cultivation, not to mention the annual "interdictions" on 101 now ramping up for the fall harvest, local law enforcement will continue to make money on Mendocino County's leading export crop.

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THE WINE INDUSTRY, via its stenographers at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, is celebrating a Wine Institute-funded “study” by John Dunham & Associates out of New York that claims the industry “pumps” $220 billion a year into the US economy from more than 10,000 wineries supplied by 680,000 acres of vineyard, 85% of the largesse flowing from California.

BUT THE STUDY’S CLAIM that “The wine industry supports 1.74 million American jobs” sounds fishy. We went to the site where they said they provided their “methodology,” but the link to the “methodology” is dead.

HOWEVER, the 2015 version of the original study claims that the wine industry produced 786,000 “full-time equivalent” jobs. But here we are based on 2016 data, one year’s study later, and the “full-time equivalent” number has magically risen to 1.74 million?

MOST of the wine industry’s employees are either seasonal or part-time, so the “full-time equivalent” number doesn’t reflect anything like the reality. The 2015 study also says the industry paid $17.2 billion in wages. So if we use the 2015 employment numbers that’s $17.2 billion for 786,000 “full time equivalent” jobs which calculates to an extremely artificial average (considering the seasonal and part-time jobs) of about $22k per year, an easily calculated number they don’t bother to mention in any of their reports.

ASSUMING that the $22k is the mean, not the median, and that the median is well south of $22k, we see that the wine industry basically pays below poverty wages to most of its part-time and seasonal workers.

THE FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL for a family of four in California is about $24k. Most of those part-time and seasonal wine jobs come with very few if any benefits. The workers’ families qualify for huge poverty subsidies direct and indirect (medical care, housing, food, etc.) which are conveniently not factored into the billions that the wine industry “pumps” into the economy. Locally, that translates to most of the kids in AV Elementary qualifying for free school lunches, and most of those kids are the sons and daughters of the local wine industry’s underpaid workers. Local health care is provided by the Anderson Valley Health Center, much of it free to farm labor, none of it subsidized by the wine industry. The Anderson Valley Housing Association uses federal housing grants to build and rent low cost housing to single vineyard workers and small families. And the local school system provides free education — some might say free childcare in the higher grades — to those same local children.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “A miracle has occurred! Skrag caught a mouse. ‘Lotta effort outta you, buddy, on such a hot day,’ I said. He looks over at me with this disdainful look on his puss and says, ‘You do your job, I'll do mine, shorty’."

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A VERY BAD IDEA

To the Editor:

I’m responding to the Ukiah Daily Journal's Aug. 27, 2017 endorsement of the new permanent part time 1045 South State Homeless Center. I’d like to add four words to your last sentence “If we let it become a hangout for people with problems, it’s doomed”, and so is Ukiah.

After observing local politics for two decades, I’ve grown accustomed to cheap fragrant promises morphing into smelly expensive realities. Once the permanent part time 1045 South State Homeless Center is up and running, it will be very difficult to uproot when blatantly attracting more homeless to Ukiah.

The permanent part time 1045 South State Homeless Center might be “worth trying” “to begin to separate the loafers from the needy,” only if there is an easy “fail-safe” to shut it down as soon as it proves a failure. This mechanism could be a simple majority of Ukiah citizens voting to rescind the Homeless Center’s use permit. If it’s not easy to pull the plug on a failing program, then the potential catastrophe to our hometown is too great to risk.

Did you know there is controversy within the Homeless-Industrial-Complex on whether day care shelters are even a good idea? Here is an article, by homeless expert Robert Marbut, stating that a day care shelter actually exacerbates the problem.

Ukiah citizens have been told by city authorities that there is nothing specifically causing the large numbers of homeless in our community. Over a year ago, on June 29, 2016, the San Francisco Examiner had this article about expanding the Homeward Bound program that had bussed over 10,000 of their homeless across the country for over a decade.

Ukiah citizens deserve to know more about this program. If SF officially plans to bus half their homeless out of town, then so can Ukiah. Our homeless crisis may be in part due to “if you build it they will come”, but they will come no matter what, courtesy of SF’s Homeward Bound program. There is a very good chance that our homeless numbers won’t decrease, regardless of how much or little assistance we provide.

Regarding your dispute of Mendocino County’s per capita rate of homeless; the latest figure (140/10,000) is easy to calculate. Divide the January 2017 PIT count (1,238) by the population of Mendocino County (87,841) then multiply by 10,000. The UDJ published an article on June 21, 2017 citing the 140 rate as reported by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Our local Homeless Services Action Group also reports that Mendocino County per capita rate is the highest in the nation.

If Mendocino County isn’t number one in the USA, then please tell us who the dubious winner is. Why is this per capita homeless number important? Mendocino County ranks near the bottom third in per capita income in California. If Ukiah had the average homeless per capita rate in the USA (around 20/10K), our town of 16K citizens would have just 32 homeless individuals to manage. We simply don’t have the resources to address more than our fair share of this problem, nor should we be expected to.

Did you know that RCS will likely be spending around $2M in taxpayer funds to buy, renovate, and facelift the 1045 South State building? As planned, it will serve a maximum of 60 people at a time. There are roughly 600 homeless in the greater Ukiah Valley. Environmentally it does not make sense, as that still leaves around 500 pounds of people poop per day polluting our local creeks, flowing to the Russian River, and then bobbing merrily downstream. Nor does it make economic sense to spend around $2M on a part time Homeless Center, unless there is a permanent source of new homeless flocking here. Note; SF’s Homeward Bound program requires only “friends, case managers and the like” with a phone to get a free bus ride to Ukiah.

Ukiah citizens should read the UDJ opinion on August 30, 2017 by Mendocino County’s Carmel Angelo and RCS’s Camille Schraeder, titled “AB 1250 bad news for Mendocino County” for their insights, since both Mendocino County and RCS are behind Ukiah’s permanent part time 1045 South State Homeless Center. Compare their concerns with Ukiah resident’s fears that the Homeless Center project will further decrease our quality of life, crater property values, depress local business income, jeopardize our local hospital’s finances, and likely result in another city sales tax increase.

Solutions; First; do no harm. Do not make the current crisis worse. Second; there must be a fail-safe shut-down mechanism permanently imbedded in the 1045 South State Homeless Center’s use permit. Third; pass Sherriff Allman’s Measure B. Fourth, craft a plan to stop further homeless influx, then bus, treat, house, and find a way to pay for the entire 600 homeless here in Ukiah. Fifth; since elected representatives have difficulty shutting down social programs, let Ukiah and Mendocino County voters decide via simple majority which homeless programs to keep or cull at each general election.

Don’t double down on decades of failure. The future of our hometown is at stake.

Edward Haynes, Ukiah

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CALIFORNIA POT CONSUMPTION SKYROCKETS

pressdemocrat.com/news/7435146-181/survey-californians-spent-681-million

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QUIZ TONIGHT! Yes it’s true - 7pm at Lauren’s Restaurant in downtown Boonville on Thursday, September 28th. With Guest Quizmaster. Steve Sparks, Quizmaster.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, September 27, 2017

ColinZarza, Downey, Martin

ADRIAN COLINZARZA, Ukiah. Domestic battery, criminal threats.

DENISE DOWNEY, Hopland. Pot cultivation, pot possesion for sale.

SARAH MARTIN, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license.

Martinez, Smith, Sterback

JUAN MARTINEZ, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, probation revocation.

JENNIFER SMITH, Fort Bragg. Burglary, vandalism, receiving stolen property.

CHRISTOPHER STERBACK, Mendocino. DUI.

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ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY

It would no doubt be a head-scratcher in the US that Malaysians parade through the streets – in MALAYSIA – after Liverpool games singing “You’ll never walk alone”, Liverpool’s anthem. And it would no doubt come as a surprise to Americans that this happens because the English Premier League is the most watched league in the world and not the NFL.

You don’t have to be a rabid soccer fan to know picayune shit like this business about Malaysian Liverpool followers. Having said that, you can’t know everything about everywhere because the world is too big a place. But just a little bit of attention to what goes on outside US borders would be nice. Never mind Palin, that knucklehead Dan Quayle said that he’d heard that there are third world countries that don’t have driving ranges. Can’t have that kind of cluelessness at the top of US politics.

If you’re wondering why US foreign policy is such a calamity and why the US mires itself in one unwinnable war after another, you might start with the general American cluelessness about the world and the general cluelessness in American policy-making elites, the guys that are supposed to know a thing or two. It’s pretty obvious they don’t.

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AXIS 360 AUDIOBOOKS

The Mendocino County Library announces the addition of the Axis 360 library of digital audiobooks to the collection of digital materials available to library cardholders. Axis 360, provided by Baker & Taylor, is a digital media platform that enables patrons to easily access the collection through the easy to use Axis 360 app or through your favorite browser. In celebration of adding this new resource, Baker & Taylor has donated a Kindle Fire that will be awarded in a free drawing to a patron who will be attending the Mendocino County Library New Book Festival at the Fort Bragg Library on Sunday, October 15thfrom 1:00-4:00 PM. The addition of this new digital library expands the library’s digital collection. Mendocino, Sonoma, and Lake County libraries subscribe to the Axis 360 platform jointly and will continue to provide Overdrive digital books as well. Overdrive has a new easy to use app called Libby. You can download the new Libby app and the Axis 360 app through the library digital book provider websites or by searching in the play store appropriate for your device. These library resources make it easy for cardholders to checkout and download library digital books which may be read and listened to through multiple popular devices including Apple devices and Android smartphones and tablets. The Axis 360 audiobooks can also be streamed on your PC through a browser and many phone and tablet owners can play digital audiobooks through their car speakers and other speakers using Bluetooth technology. For more information about Axis 360 and digital resources provided by the Mendocino County Library, visit www.mendolibrary.org and click on eLibrary or visit your local library branch.

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DER SOMMERWIND

The summer wind came blowin' in from across the sea
It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind

Like painted kites, those days and nights they went flyin' by
The world was new beneath a blue umbrella sky
Then softer than a piper man, one day it called to you
I lost you, I lost you to the summer wind

The autumn wind, and the winter winds they have come and gone
And still the days, those lonely days, they go on and on
And guess who sighs his lullabies through nights that never end
My fickle friend, the summer wind

–Johnny Mercer

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FUTURE PROBABILITIES

blogs.scientificamerican.com/life-unbounded/putting-odds-on-the-human-future/

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A READER SENDS ALONG this photo of a dog who lied on his resume when claiming “experience herding sheep.”

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BIG INSTITUTIONS: IMMUNITIES, IMPUNITIES & INSANITIES

by Ralph Nader

One of the first times I used the phrase “institutional insanity” was in 1973 to describe the behavior of scientist Dixy Lee Ray, chairperson of the presumed regulatory agency, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). I pointed out that her personal and academic roles were quite normal. But her running of the AEC—pressing for 1,000 nuclear plants in the U.S. by the year 2000 (there are 99 reactors left in operation now), and going easy on a deadly, taxpayer subsidized technology that was privately uninsurable, lacked a place to put its lethal radioactive wastes, a national security risk, replete with vast cost over-runs, immunities and impunities shielding culpable officials and executives, should a meltdown occur and take out a city or region (all to boil water to produce steam to make electricity)—was a case study in “institutional insanity.”

Both the AEC and its successor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), captured by the atomic energy industry, operate this way to this day, no matter the near misses, the spills, growing corporate welfare outlays, and the inadequate maintenance of aging nuclear power plants.

Our moral and ethical codes and our civil and criminal laws were originally designed to hold individuals accountable. The kings of yore operated under a divine right of being above the laws.

With the rise and proliferation of ever more multi-tiered governmental and corporate bureaucracies, methods of immunity, impunity and secrecy were built into these structures to shield them from moral/ethical codes and laws. Increasingly, we are ruled by no-fault big corporations and their no-fault toady governments.

Some comparisons are in order. If your neighbor entrusted you with her savings and paid you a fee for doing so, you then purchased stocks for her account while you’re selling them for your account, deceiving the cheated neighbor in the process, would you escape the law? That is just some of what the Wall Street Barons did on a massive scale about ten years ago. No one was prosecuted and sent to jail for this corporate crime wave.

Suppose you hired a security person for your defense who, at the same time, wasted your money and couldn’t account for your payments because his books were unauditable. Would you keep doing business with him? Wouldn’t you demand an audit? Well on a hugely larger scale, this is the Pentagon contracting system and your tax dollars. Why not demand that the defense department stop violating federal law, as it has since 1992, and provide Congress with auditable information so that its accounting arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) can audit the notoriously porous Pentagon books.

Suppose the head of your neighborhood association kept sugar coating problems, kept lying to you, kept describing conditions that weren’t so and kept doing things that would enrich himself in conflict with his duties. Would you keep supporting him in that position? Probably not. Well, that is your President, day after day.

What if your neighbor kept dumping polluted water and solid waste pollutants on your lawn and all around your house? Would you demand that your town or city stop this contamination, or sit quietly and accept this abuse because you don’t believe in regulation? Well, Trump’s EPA wrecker, Scott Pruitt, is busily going weakening environmental protections and even taking away environmental crimes investigators and forcing them to be his personal security guard.

Let’s say your farmers’ market vendors sensed that you were very dependent on the food they provide and they proceeded to triple the prices, it’s not difficult to predict your reactions. Yet that is what the drug companies have done with many of your important medicines over the past 10 years. Yet where are the outraged demands for the government to have the power to negotiate volume discounts, facilitate generics, restrain prices for drugs rooted in your taxpayer funded research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and allow imported competition from Canada?

You get into a bus or cab and the driver regularly cheats you into paying several times more than you should pay and then covers it up. When you find out about it, all hell breaks loose next time you confront him. What about Wells Fargo bank—they knowingly created unauthorized, false credit card and auto insurance accounts, wrongly billing customers millions of times. Imagine: no criminal prosecutions yet, no wholesale resignation of the well-paid Board of Directors, and very few customers are leaving the bank. Wells Fargo keeps reporting great profits while hassling victims into settlements. What’s one takeaway? The bigger the crook, the bigger is our surrender. Too big to fail or jail!

The neighbor in charge of the rural, communal drinking water well knows it’s being contaminated by a party that was his previous employer and expects to be hired back by his old boss. Your children as well as their parents are at risk. Well, welcome to Trump’s deregulations of food, drug, auto pollution, and workplace investor safety. They’ve come from the industries’ payroll and expect to come back with a big raise.

There are just a few contrasts between individual and institutional crimes and wrongdoing and our different responses toward them. Facebook, Google and Equifax can misuse your personal information to your perceived disadvantage and they repeatedly get away with it.

The White House under Bush/Cheney can unconstitutionally ignite wars, lie to the people about the reasons, produce millions of casualties and untold destruction of innocent peoples’ homelands, get re-elected and later retire with huge speech fees without being chased by the “sheriffs.”

It is doubtful whether you would allow your hamlet’s political leaders to get away with such violent assaults, even if they wanted to do so.

If our moral/ethical/legal codes cannot reach up to the tops of these institutions on behalf of wronged, injured individuals and communities and societies, we’ll get what we’ve been getting, which is worse and worse immunities/impunities with each passing decade.

Isn’t this a fault/no fault paradox worth thinking about?

(Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!)

 

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