A West Virginia television news station ran a segment, "WSAZ Investigates: A Dose of Reality," showing an EMS supervisor, Chad Ward, responding to a heroin overdose, while wearing a body cam depicting the devastating effect Heroin is having in West Virginia.
This same sort of tragedy is playing out all over the country, including Missouri. I saw many people, including classmates, friends and family members suffer from the effects of drug addiction. Criminalizing drug use and mass incarceration of drug users and addicts compounded the negative effects.
Narcan (Naloxone) is a drug that reverses an overdose, it is creating more concern than comfort according to an EMS professional because "it gives drug users a false sense of security." They are concerned that people who are using or abusing these drugs are going to get into the mindset of "well somebody's going to have Norcan."
Years ago, many people believed that drugs was a black or brown problem and didn't care as long as their community was not negatively affected. The same was true when crime and murders seemly occurred only in certain areas. However, as mentioned in a previous post, the fastest growing demographic of drug addiction is in white communities. Within the last two years, there have been at least 767 overdose deaths in the St. Louis area. With increasing drug use comes increasing crime.
I was raised in North St. Louis during the seventies and literally saw the decline. During the early 70's, just about any service or product was available in the neighborhood. First there was white flight, then a reduction in city services, then businesses left, drug use increased (some government sanctioned), crime increased, and now the North Side is a shell of it's former self.
Just about all major manufacturing left North City and moved to predominately white communities, often rural areas, far removed from the city. For example, GM manufactured Corvettes at Union and Natural Bridge until 1981, two years later in 1983, GM opened a manufacturing plant in Wentzville, MO.
When manufacturers began leaving black urban areas, no one cared. Once that pattern was established, corporations realized they could "flight" the country and move manufacturing to China and Mexico with little or no repercussions. Now many of the same jobs that left urban areas are now moving out of predominately white areas to other countries. As Martin Luther King once stated, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Carrier Corporation is the latest example of this trend, earlier this week, Carrier announced the closure of manufacturing plants in Indiana. Those jobs will be moving to Mexico.
Trump and others have been proposing closing the border, so I guess corporations figure if those workers can not longer come here, they will go there. Remember, closing the borders can work both ways. If the best manufacturing jobs end up in Mexico in the next decade, Americans may not be able to cross the border to get those jobs. Just food for thought. It's easy to be insensitive to economic suffering, when that suffering is not your own.
As economic conditions worsen, drug use will most likely continue to skyrocket. If an ultra conservative candidate gets elected as president, many of the safety nets that currently exist could be reduced or eliminated completely.
West Virginia's coal economy has been devastated because of clean coal regulation and alternative energy. Like most other states, West Virginia, over time reduced social programs and now many people there, in mostly white communities, lack adequate food, housing and health care. Some of these people who now need social services may have been among the very ones who argued for reductions. West Virginia is a window into the future.
Since World War II, the dominant or reserve currency of the world has been the U.S. dollar, but that is changing. Around the time I was born, GM, U.S. Steel, General Electric, Goodyear and AT&T were among the nation's largest employers. Those companies provided good paying jobs and firmly established the middle class. Today, Wal-Mart is the nation's largest private employer; Target, Kroger and Sears are among the top ten largest employers in the country and many of those jobs are part-time low wage positions.
I suspect one of the reasons union organizers were trying so hard to unionize fast food workers and get them pay increases, was to have a fresh supply of dues paying members to shore up union pension funds for existing union retirees.
When the great recession hit, I had a managerial position and reported directly to the company president. I owned four homes and I was the last person worried about a job loss. Things changed! Hopefully you'll use the information presented on this website to prepare yourself in case things also change for you. If you're not prepared for change, the consequence could be devastating.
St. Louis has the highest murder rate in the country. Unfortunately, it seemed as long as murders were only being committed within certain neighborhoods, no one outside the community really cared. Once murders and shootings began occurring in the Central West End, Downtown and other areas a crisis was declared. The speed in which suspects were found when the victim was white, was amazing and reflects an urgency disparity.
Greater concern, effort, and resources are expended when the victim is white. The media uses a different vocabulary to describe white victims and seldom are drugs or illegal activity mentioned. When a black shooting victim states they don't know why they were targeted, their integrity is questioned along with the possibility of the incident being drug or gang related. White victims appear to be instantly believed, even when their stories seem bazaar.
I am fifty years old, and during my lifetime, there have been 9,415 murders in St. Louis; an average of 188 per year. Among those victims were my brother-in-law and nephew. I don't know any black family that hasn't been touched directly or indirectly by murder. There was no crisis declared, no end violence initiatives by news channels until multiple white people became victims.
Ironically, some people seem to think that before channel 4's #EndViolenceSTL, that no one was concerned or addressing violence in our community. There have been multiple attempts to raise awareness and end violence, the most notable recent attempt was a Call to Oneness.
The war on drugs was waged almost exclusively against black and brown people. After a new drug crisis was declared when methamphetamine and heroin began affecting white communities, no new drug war was declared. In fact, once large numbers of white kids became addicted to drugs, the country suddenly started to realize that the war on drugs was too harsh and unfair. Instead of calling for incarceration of these new white addicts, medical treatment was prescribed for their "illness".
American Drug War:The Last White Hope (a kevin booth film)
Visit Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or any other major city in the United States and you'll discover a statistical anomaly; each of these cities contains impoverished areas that are overwhelmingly black or brown. Unless you're prepared to say that black and brown people are less ambitious, less intelligent or inferior; you must come to the realization that those groups are artificially held back by institutionalized oppression and discrimination.
The sad reality is that many people have been conditioned to believe that something is wrong with black and brown people. Unfortunately, some black people even believe this myth. Some have even convinced themselves that because they achieved some measure of success, they are somehow the exception to the rule. They don't seem to understand that when they move into an all-white community or attend white schools, that standard is applied to them and they are considered by those around them as less than. If you indict a group of people and you are a member of that group, you cannot escape the indictment.
Until systemic oppression and inequality ends, including; abusive policing, government policy, inferior education, business practices, media bias, resource distribution, unfair court practices, mass incarceration, and employment discrimination, crime will continue to rise and will spill over into communities that had previously been considered immune or safe. Increasingly, criminals are beginning to realize it is more profitable to target people with more resources.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe” – Frederick Douglass
Crime and Poverty
Both the United Nations and the World Bank indicate poverty, oppression, inequality and lack of economic opportunities results in increased criminal activity. When inequalities are great, crime goes through the roof. When people see vast wealth differences, especially if the wealth disparity is based on injustice, crime becomes even worse.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the United States, there were 46.7 million people in poverty in 2014. The official poverty rate was 14.8 percent. Contrary to some common stereotypes about America’s poor, which included 25,659,922 Whites, 11,197,648 Hispanics, 9,472,583 Blacks, and 1,899,448 Asians; poverty affects all groups.
At least 4.2 million, one-third of the 13 million children living in poverty are white, 27% of Latino children (4 million), 33% of black children (3.6 million), 12% of Asian children (400,000) and 40% of American Indian (200,000). Source National Center for Children in Poverty.
Even Elvis' recognized this when he recorded, "The Ghetto" in 1969. This song is about poverty, describing a child who can't overcome his surroundings and turns to crime, which leads to his death. It was the first song Elvis recorded with a socially-conscious message. He was reluctant to do it for that reason.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory
Just about every college student will learn about a motivational theory developed by Abraham Maslow in the 1940's. His theory is taught in a variety of subjects including education, psychology, business management and marketing.
Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory proposed that motivation is the result of a person's attempt at fulfilling five basic needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization.
Physiological needs are those needs required for human survival such as air, food, water, shelter, clothing and sleep. A person will do just about anything to meet these needs.
Safety needs include those needs that provide a person with a sense of security and well-being. Personal security, financial security, good health and protection from accidents, harm, and their adverse effects are all included in safety needs.
Social needs also called love and belonging, refer to the need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Social needs are important to humans so that they do not feel alone, isolated and depressed. Friendships, family, and intimacy all work to fulfill social needs.
Esteem needs refer to the need for self-esteem and respect, with self-respect being slightly more important than gaining respect and admiration from others.
Self-actualization needs describe a person's need to reach his or her full potential. The need to become what one is capable of is something that is highly personal. While I might have the need to be a good parent, you might have the need to hold an executive-level position within your organization.
I remember watching the Hurricane Katrina news coverage and wondering if the government was purposefully trying to create a Maslow situation to cause people to act on their survival instincts to show images of blacks behaving like animals. How else could the government's lack of aid to such an enormous disaster be described?
The opposite occurred and the people of New Orleans displayed exceptional amounts of humanity towards one another.
In many countries that do not provide an adequate safety net, kidnapping and other crimes that target well-off citizens are common. What many people do not seem to understand is that social programs such as food stamps, section 8 and others that help people meet basic needs, prevents people from being forced to turn to crime to meet those needs.
Use a simple common sense approach. What would you do if after following all the rules, you could not afford to provide for the basic needs of your family and your children are hungry? If you do not have family or friends who can help; and if there is no outside assistance available, many people would do things they would not have considered doing previously.
The media has demonized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly known as "food stamps" over the years, often portraying the recipients as lazy, dependent, or unwilling to work.
Most SNAP recipients don’t rely exclusively on the benefits for food – only 22 percent of the program’s 47 million beneficiaries in 2013 had zero gross income. Many recipients have recently lost their jobs, are low wage earners or employed part time. Among those 22 percent with zero gross income are children, elderly, people affected by disasters, injured or too ill to work.
As pointed out in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, when a person can't feed themselves or their family, they will do whatever is necessary to fulfill that need. Oxford University and the Pew Research Center have estimated that half of all job that exists today will be gone within ten years. The irony is that as computerization and robotics displace large numbers of workers; the very people complaining about these benefits today, will be the same ones that the benefits will not available for tomorrow.
Recent profiles of successful individuals illustrate how SNAP helps disadvantaged people achieve success.
Famous People who were on Food Stamps
When Jan Koum sold his company, WhatsApp, to Facebook for $19 billion on February 19, 2014, he signed the paperwork against the front door of the welfare office where his family used to collect food stamps. After the sale of WhatsApp, the Huffington Post profiled a number of prominent people who have had to rely on food stamps, including:
President Barack Obama and his mother Ann Dunham received food stamps when the future president was a baby.
Musician Bruce Springsteen received food stamps during the earlier parts of his career. I have always respected the fact that Springsteen recorded "American Skin (41 Shots)" is a song inspired by the police shooting death of Amadou Diallo.
For those not familiar with Amadou Diallo
Dr. Ben Carson, in his book "Gifted Hands", wrote, “By the time I reached ninth grade, mother had made such strides that she received nothing but food stamps," …"She couldn’t have provided for us and kept up the house without that subsidy.”
Craig T. Nelson who was once helped with food stamps seemed to be making an argument against government assistance for others.
Other notable food stamp recipients
Olympic speed skater Emily Scott was forced to apply for food stamps when her monthly Olympic stipend was cut to just $600.
Viola Davis, Actress – grew up in extreme poverty and stated, "I Have Stolen, Jumped in Garbage Bins With Maggots For Food"
Scarlett Johansson – She stated, “My family grew up relying on public assistance to help provide meals for our family”.
Tobey Maguire – "As a kid, I was very poor. I mean, it's all relative, but we would get groceries from neighbors. I always had a roof over my head, but I slept on couches of relatives, and some night we wandered into a shelter. My family had food stamps and government medical insurance.
I've often wondered if we as a society have failed to properly educate and support a child who would have cured cancer.
Five Hour Energy Billionaire Trying to Make a Difference in the lives of the poor