Friday, February 25, 2011

Poor, poor, cynical me...

Nana has noticed. I've noticed. I'm cynical. VERY cynical. Ok, so perhaps I'm over reacting. Certainly, doing the right thing like ensuring that you are as well educated as possible, that you have savings, that you pay your bills on time, that you keep your promises (of all sorts), that you don't lie/cheat/steal, and so forth will put you in a position of relative security in that it won't be your fault if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, just as when you drive on snow covered roads it is more likely to be the other fellow on the road that causes problems for you than it is that you will make a mistake so it is that what other people do is what will give you problems.

I used to be an optimist. I used to be able to tell myself that no matter how bad things were that they would get better. I used to tell myself that if I only did the right thing(s), it will all turn out in the end. I no longer believe that.

Now that's not to say that I won't continue to do the right thing. That's what we're supposed to do. However, I no longer have any faith that doing the right thing will "protect" you from the vagaries of life. Oh, I still remember just moving ahead on faith and trying to do the right thing and sometimes just standing there looking at the functionary who'd just told me something really outlandish until, miracle of miracles, that person would suddenly be "inspired" to "save" my rear end and do the right thing (from my point of view at least). I've gotten better assignments, better conditions, etc. due to this phenomenon. But lately...

I watch the news and I see some truly uncaring or stupid people or, worst of all, agents of evil step up or back or whatever to allow this country to degenerate. We don't care for any sort of standard unless it is some sort of revenue enhancement for the government.

For example, I was just in a Florida courtroom where a number of traffic offenders were being arraigned. Driving without a license or driving on a suspended license (which apparently some didn't know had been suspended, and I can see how that happened) were the majority of the cases heard. Really vital stuff. So this one fellow steps up and needs the interpreter (those needing the interpreter went first and we'd heard him speaking English with his girl-friend earlier). The judge asks, "Mr. ______ can you get a license?" The response, "no, because of my status." What was his "status"? He was an illegal immigrant. Was he hauled out of the courtroom to one of ICE's enclosures? No, he was given a public defender and released until another date. Another fellow was there because he'd been in an accident and allegedly falsely given insurance info. What he claimed is that he thought the insurance was good when the insurance company had canceled it just two days prior to the accident and he had yet to receive the notice. The end result, he pleaded "no contest" and got screwed for the court costs. From what I saw, the government never lost a case but they would let you buy your way out like buying indulgences in the middle ages. Then again, there were the defendants who couldn't be at court earlier because they were in jail serving time for a variety of offenses from battery to prostitution to fraudulent checks... One person, however, had been nabbed for a single $43 (and change) bad check. One. No other problem. Had already made "restitution". I guess he should have had overdraft protection. The judge had to ask how the DMV operated, not once but several times, and he presumably sat on hundreds of such cases. One man was still waiting on his California birth certificate (which now must be "original") for which he had waited over 14 weeks and made more than 2 other court appearances. He got a trial date. Both the prosecutor and the public defender were about as old as my nieces. In total my impression was the the criminal justice system wasn't what you think. Oh, it was criminal, but it wasn't justice and the system began and ended at the courtroom door.

But that's not all. We saw a number of people hustling to work and a number just hustling. There are good folks out there, young and old, male and female, of all races, who are working hard to make a living and taking the time to help their fellow man and they are being fed on by the non-producers in the same way a leech will feed on anything that wanders near it.

E.g. we saw this one fellow on the same corner over several days. On the third day I noticed that the same new Ford pickup was parked nearby every time we saw him and it wasn't there when he was absent. Then on the fourth day we stopped at the light just as he was getting out of his new truck, taking out his carefully lettered cardboard sign and checking his appearance in the side mirror before walking over to the road side to beg for money.

Ok, I've been around. I've seen beggars. I get it that somebody will always be doing this. But now, in this day and age, it appears to have risen to a shameless profession where the professional beggar doesn't even bother to conceal his financial success. Yes, I'm cynical. If this guy was truly down and out the bank would have repossessed the truck OR if it was paid off he would have sold it and perhaps gotten a junker. I could smell the new car smell from the road and it smelled like rat. Yes, I'm cynical.

The circumstances that resulted in my being there don't help. I was let down by at least two people. One I'd come to expect the worst from and she didn't disappoint. She talked a good game until push came to shove, backed out and then raised a fuss and played the injured party when we eliminated her from the equation in order to have resolution. She couldn't live up to her responsibilities but that isn't something new. The other hadn't been as bad as expected but still his failures had been the cause of the trip and exacerbated the situation. So much time and treasure could have been conserved if only he'd been honest, timely and communicative. He might have learned his lesson. Once upon a time I would have expected that he had. Now I doubt it. That's cynical. That's me.

1 comment:

Tony said...


Your post, unfortunately, has validated my own experiences. I’ve had several with the justice system lately, basically as a witness.

My observation’s of its dysfunctions is right on the money with yours.

Last year my local paper, The Patriot News, with great fan-fair featured one of their staff writers and heralded the fact that he was instrumental in freeing, not one but five people, from Death Row. In all of those situations the prosecution never had ANY evidence to arraign someone, let alone obtain a conviction. And apparently, all of the convicted had alibis that were never investigated by the State. No witnesses, no physical evidence, no motives—in fact, no known connection to the victims that they even ever knew them, except they lived in the vicinity.

Most of these people who were falsely accused and convicted, were of modest means who simply couldn’t afford to buy their justice.

My own observation from sitting in the local District Justice’s office: They’re all guilty, until, they’re adjudicated as guilty anyway. There’s a standing assumption, based upon the efficiency demanded by the State, so it isn’t inconvenienced. None the less, from the limited knowledge I’ve gained from my high school civics’ class, the vast majority of those accused, had no evidence produced that a crime was even committed.

I don’t think you’re cynical—just a realist.