Google+ Badge

Monday, July 6, 2015

Thomas Jefferson: Founding Father of Equality and Proponent of Human Slavery

I love the United States of America. I am ever grateful for the birth of this nation and to those founding fathers who upheld liberty. I will always revere those who crafted the revolution. Without amazing people like Thomas Jefferson, America might still be a British colony. Yet, at the same time, I believe young students of history should realize the facts that show hypocrisy in colonial times.

Consider these famous words:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The Declaration of Independence, 1776

Then, consider these words from Thomas Jefferson (1853):

"It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race. -- To these objections, which are political, may be added others, which are physical and moral.

"The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarf-skin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immoveable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race?

"Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man?

"Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites. Perhaps too a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus, which a late ingenious experimentalist has discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in expiration, to part with more of it.

"They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning.

"They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites.

"They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection.

"To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course.

"Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

"It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move.

"Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America. Most of them indeed have been confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society: yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites.

"Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad. The Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait, of painting or sculpture.

"In music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved.

"Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. -- Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar strum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion indeed has produced a *Phyllis Whately; but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism. The heroes of the *Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem.

"*Ignatius Sancho has approached nearer to merit in composition; yet his letters do more honour to the heart than the head. They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and general philanthropy, and shew how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his stile is easy and familiar, except when he affects a *Shandean fabrication of words.

"But his imagination is wild and extravagant, escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric, as is the course of a meteor through the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process of sober reasoning: yet we find him always substituting sentiment for demonstration.

"Upon the whole, though we admit him to the first place among those of his own colour who have presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived, and particularly with the epistolary class, in which he has taken his own stand, we are compelled to enroll him at the bottom of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published under his name to be genuine, and to have received amendment from no other hand; points which would not be of easy investigation.

"The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life. . . .

"To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the Anatomical knife, to Optical glasses, to analysis by fire, or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of all the senses; where the conditions of its existence are various and variously combined; where the effects of those which are present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them.

"To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.

"It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them?

"This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question 'What further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture."

(Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson,
J.W. Randolph. Virginia, 1853)

* Phillis Wheatley (1753 – 1784) was the first published African-American woman and first published African-American poet. Born in West Africa, she was sold into slavery at the age of seven and transported to North America. She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent.The publication of her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773) brought her fame both in England and the American colonies; figures such as George Washington praised her work.
* The Dunciad (1728-1743) is a landmark literary satire by Alexander Pope published in three different versions at different times. The poem is considered a masterpiece of mock-heroic verse.
* Ignatius Sancho (1729 – 1780) was a composer, actor, and writer. He is the first known Black Briton to vote in a British election. He gained fame in his time as "the extraordinary Negro", and to 18th-century British abolitionists he became a symbol of the humanity of Africans and immorality of the slave trade.The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African, edited and published two years after his death, is one of the earliest accounts of African slavery written in English by a former slave of Spanish and English families.
* Shandean means characteristic of Tristram Shandy, a humorous novel by Laurence Sterne.

While the Declaration of Independence is a beautifully written document, it was authored by slaveholders. This is the greatest irony surrounding this powerful work of governance. Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal even though he owned more than 200 slaves at his home in Monticello.

We can say Jefferson's condescending language towards the blacks can be explained by his existence as a mere product of his culture, a form of civilization in Virginia which largely required the existence of black slavery. In that view, we could conclude that his faults were merely a matter of historical obedience -- culture the way it was then. Or, was it his own selfishness that prevented the abandonment of his luxurious way of life at Monticello? It is possible to view Jefferson as a man losing his own moral compass on human rights as his financial dependence on slavery deepens.

We can say Jefferson wrote about the inferiority of blacks to justify their enslavement. Perhaps this reasoning helped ease his (and that of many others) conscience about enslaving human beings, but then again, perhaps he had no conscience in matters of race. After all, he believed slaves to have physical and moral deficiencies -- lack of beauty and lack of reasoning intelligence -- that made them little more than a sub species.

We can say Jefferson was merely trying to explain the inability of his weary slaves to comprehend such weighty matters as "the investigations of Euclid." Yet, there is little doubt that he used such rhetoric to prove that they were indeed inferior beings." While Jefferson disguised his racial judgments in the language of scientific observation, they were opinions that exposed his racial biases. He considered himself  above such so-called "inferior" creatures.

We can say Jefferson was merely a strict segregationist. He believed if freed, slaves should be sent to Africa. He thought, otherwise, abolition would result in racial warfare or, even worse, racial “mixture.” However, America in colonial times was already a land of racial mixture largely accepted unless the mix was black and white. Perhaps Jefferson was not only the principal author of the Declaration of Independence but also an originator of the "Back to Africa" campaign of white racists.

And, of course, we can say Jefferson acknowledges "the injuries blacks have sustained" with regret and blames their inferiority on long years of captivation. Does that observation come from a man who believes himself to be kinder in judgment than others like him who enslave humans and use them to profit from their ownership?

What about their freedom? The fact remains that Jefferson remained a slave owner until his death. He freed five of his slaves in his will. At his death, Jefferson was greatly in debt, in part due to his continued construction program. The debts encumbered his estate, and his family sold 130 slaves, virtually all the members of every slave family, from Monticello to pay his creditors.

We can say Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, was an honest man and attempt to rationalize his hypocrisy, yet we still must realize the dark side of the man. History should reflect these facts, and students should read about the real Jefferson -- his beliefs and the common beliefs of so many of his era.

Notes on the State of Virginia

In late 1780, François de Barbé Marbois, the secretary of the French legation to the United States, sent a set of standard queries to American officials to elicit information about the thirteen states. For the state of Virginia, Congressman Joseph Jones received the queries, who then forwarded them to Thomas Jefferson, Virginia's governor at the time.

Jefferson finished to a preliminary set of answers to Marbois‟ queries in that same year. Building upon and refining the text throughout 1782 and 1783, Jefferson became reluctant to publish what became the Notes on the State of Virginia, but he consented to publish a very limited run of 200 copies in 1784 while in France as America's Minister Plenipotentiary.

It seems that Jefferson intended only for that original, small publication to be made, perhaps only for sharing with friends and acquaintances. Per his instructions, the sections on blacks and slavery were omitted in this publication, but unfortunately for Jefferson the full text was pirated and widely distributed to the public. He could not hide while the public read his slavery views.

(Christopher Martin. "Slavery in Notes On the State of Virginia:
Understanding Complexity." May, 2013)

Sally Hemings

The affirmation of Thomas Jefferson's affair with his slave, Sally Hemings, makes Jefferson appear to be a master of deception and a hypocrite who must be questioned for following his own personal beliefs.

Sally Hemings became Thomas Jefferson's property as part of his inheritance from the Wayles estate in 1774 and came with her mother to Monticello by 1776. As a child she was probably a nursemaid to Jefferson's daughter Mary. (Slave girls from the age of six or eight were childminders and assistants to head nurses on southern plantations.)

In 1787, at the age of 14, Sally Hemings accompanied Jefferson’s daughter Polly from Virginia to Paris, where Jefferson was serving as American minister. Madison Hemings was the son of the  Sally Hemings. According to Madison's account, at some point she became Jefferson’s “concubine.”

When Jefferson was about to return to America in 1789, according to Madison, Sally Hemings, pregnant and aware that slavery had no legal standing in France, announced that she was going to remain in Paris. To persuade her to accompany him home, Jefferson agreed to a “treaty” whereby he would free her children when they reached adulthood.

Most scholars are likely to agree that Jefferson fathered Hemings’s seven children (of whom three died in infancy). In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which operates Monticello, announced that its internal study had concluded that Jefferson was likely the father of all of Hemings' children. And, in 2001 the National Genealogical Society published a special issue on the topic; its specialists demonstrated how their review of the weight of evidence led them to conclude that Thomas Jefferson was the father of Heming's children.

(National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 89, No. 3, September 2001)

Annette Gordon-Reed published the first volume of a planned two-volume history on the Hemings family and their descendants, bringing a slave family to life on their own terms. She traced the many descendants of Elizabeth Hemings and their families during the time that they lived at Monticello; she had 75 descendants there. It brings to life not only Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson but also their children and Hemings's siblings, who shared a father with Jefferson's wife, Martha.

It was widely praised for its groundbreaking treatment of an extended slave family. Much of Gordon-Reed's superbly told story takes place at Jefferson's beloved Monticello, where, she writes, "we can find the absolute best, and the absolute worst, that we have been as Americans." It won the Pulitzer Prize for History and 15 additional awards.

(Annette Gordon-Reed. The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. 2009)

But as to the precise nature of the Hemings/Jefferson relationship, the historical record is silent.

Was it rape, psychological coercion, a sexual bargain or a long-term loving connection? ­Gordon-Reed acknowledges that it is almost impossible to probe the feelings of a man and a woman neither of whom left any historical evidence about their relationship. Madison Hemings’s use of the words “concubine” and “treaty” hardly suggests a romance.

(Eric Foner. "The Master and the Mistress." The New York Times. October 3, 2008)

John Chester Miller, professor of American history and the author of more than a dozen books, concludes this about Thomas Jefferson's feelings for Sally Hemings:

"Had Jefferson loved Sally Hemings in the deeper sense of that word, he would surely have loved the children she bore him. It was not in Jefferson's nature, nor is it in the nature of most men, to show indifference to the children born of a love match. If his treatment of the children is any indicator, Jefferson's feeling for Sally Hemings -- assuming that he had any feeling for her other than the regard a master feels for a loyal, devoted servant and half-sister of his deceased wife--must have been purely carnal. The children did not concern him at all; he was solely preoccupied in indulging his passion for the 'African Venus.'"

(John Chester Miller. The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery. 1991)

Shelby Steele, the author of Jefferson's Blood, says Jefferson "spawned two lines of descendants — one legitimate, one not. And this bastardized part of his family would be driven by a sense of incompleteness."

Near the end of his life, the great Jefferson was reduced to compulsively compiling a crackpot mathematical formula to determine at which point of mixed racial heritage a white person becomes black, or vice versa.

The same can be said of the whole of white America and black America today. And that is, above all, the true sadness still to be confronted.

“One cannot question the genuineness of Jefferson’s liberal dreams,” writes historian David Brion Davis. “He was one of the first statesmen in any part of the world to advocate concrete measures for restricting and eradicating Negro slavery.”Yet, Davis continues, “the most remarkable thing about Jefferson’s stand on slavery is his immense silence.” And later, Davis finds, Jefferson’s emancipation efforts “virtually ceased.

Davis says, "By looking closely at Monticello, we can see the process by which Thomas Jefferson rationalized an abomination to the point where an absolute moral reversal was reached and he made slavery fit into America’s national enterprise."

(Henry Wiencek. "The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson. Smithsonian Magazine. October 2012)

It seems we need to say more ... much more ... about Jefferson, the individual, as we continue to uphold Jefferson, the founding father.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Scioto, Ohio, National Human Trafficking: "In Plain Sight"

"According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Toledo is the fourth largest recruitment site for human trafficking in the country. In central Ohio, it is estimated that 88 percent of human trafficking involves sex slavery, 75 percent are female and 84 percent are American born citizens."

I believe it would behoove us all to look at information from the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and their "Recommendations to Governor John R. Kasich (June 27, 2012).  A recent rash of homicides and disappearances from Southern Ohio demands our immediate attention. I strongly believe a connection to a local human trafficking network might be established and, thus, aid in solving these kidnappings and murders.

Here in Scioto County we experience significant human trafficking. Those who choose to be indifferent to prostitution and master/slave relationships of abusers and the less fortunate while viewing the problems as small, insignificant "bothers" should establish more open communication with past victims. Through investigation, citizens will find the links that help feed a criminal system are shocking. Exposure is lacking. Transparency is nil.

Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims of human trafficking and 3,016 more are at-risk. Of course, older, vulnerable Ohioans are also prey for those involved in trafficking. The public knowledge of human trafficking is low. Because many are unaware of this human slavery, it happens in our own backyards and often goes undetected.

Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for commercial sexual exploitation and
forced labor. As one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises worldwide, this criminal enterprise is on pace to surpass the drug trade in less than five years. Yet, as data on the prevalence of human trafficking is fairly new, a lack of awareness here in Ohio mirrors the larger national situation. The fact is human trafficking has been a viable policy issue on the federal level for only the past 10 years.

"Criminals have begun shifting from trafficking narcotics and weapons to trafficking humans;
drugs and guns must be restocked in order to make a profit, whereas a person is seen a renewable asset that can be resold time and time again, multiple times in one night. Often, teenage girls are rotated amongst highway welcome centers, annual events, truck stops, hotels, convention centers, places where there is a large transitory populace and the buyers have anonymity."

("Recommendations to Governor John R. Kasich." Ohio Human
Trafficking Task Force. June 27, 2012) 

Human trafficking does not just involve participants in the shady underworld. Modern day slaves are victimized daily in beauty salons, market places, construction sites, farms, factories, and in our hospitality industry. Human beings are coerced from homes, schools, and streets within the state and
transported into Ohio from out of state and out of country to be enslaved by traffickers, who are blinded by greed.

Those who suffer from drug abuse serve as a smorgasbord of susceptible victims for human traffickers. As dependents and addicts face court, joblessness, rehab, and intervention, many unscrupulous individuals use and abuse them.

Young women are especially at risk as candidates for prostitution and sexual favors. The public tends to place all blame upon these victims while judging them of questionable character and weak will: the truth is that the system itself often places the women in a dangerous whirlwind comprised of equal measures of help and abuse. Victims see few visible options; they sell sex at the hands of an
exploitative and abusive adult as a means of survival.  Prostitution is not just about trading sex for money - but also for drugs, food, shelter, cigarettes, or a ride.

Traffickers mercilessly prey upon the exposed. They often use drugs as a control technique with victims, and victims may also voluntarily use drugs to escape the trauma of their daily lives. For a drug dependent individual, rescue from slavery is extremely difficult. Why? Because once rescued, many victims will require drug and alcohol treatment in order to stabilize and restore their lives.

While drug and alcohol treatment programs exist in Ohio, nearly all have a waiting list and require weeks or months of waiting before a victim can enter. Therefore, without safe, therapeutic housing options, victims are at risk of running or returning to the trafficker during this time.

Law enforcement officers, service providers and first responders need appropriate training and
response tactics to identify victims. Without the proper training many youth and adults will face
continued sexual and physical abuse at the hands of “pimps” and “jailers." Human trafficking
victims have been groomed to fear police and other first responders, hampering their ability to
seek assistance. 

In the Rand Corporation’s Study of Human Trafficking in Ohio, of the Ohio cases reviewed, only one involved the victim’s liberation through the assistance of law enforcement personnel.

(Erin Dalton. “Human Trafficking in Ohio: Market, Responses,
and Considerations.” The Rand Corporation)

Ohio’s law enforcement, first responders, and agency service providers are key in the prevention and
identification of human trafficking victims as the majority of victims are runaways, coming from
abusive and substance abusing families, where in all likelihood the first people to have contact
with them will be someone from the enforcement, regulation, and social service community.

"27 million people are enslaved worldwide.
Ohio ranks fifth in the nation for this underground crime."

--Central Ohio Restore and Rescue Coalition

Click here for the Website of Central Ohio Restore and Rescue:

Click here for the entire Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Report:

Do You Think You Know Yourself? Think Again.

"It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment — but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?"
 ~Lord Byron

Memories -- so common and yet so mysterious. What is a memory? Why do some things -- even the most trivial moments -- make indelible memories while others fade? How accurate to the actuating occurrence are memories? As memories occupy a significant part of human existence, they remain but ethereal ghosts of recollection.

The history of the word memory includes derivation from the Old Norse word Mimir. In Norse mythology, Mimir is a giant who guards the well of wisdom. According to one legend Mimir is beheaded by the enemies of the gods of Asgard during the Æsir-Vanir War, a conflict between two groups of deities. His head is then preserved by Odin, who consults it for information and advice.

Without a legendary automation like a brazen head or a separate wise cranium like Mimir, we humans rely upon memory stored in their own brains to retain information and reconstruct past experiences, usually for present purposes. Of course, memory is one of the most important ways by which our histories animate our current actions and experiences.

Nearly 300 years ago, Scottish philosopher David Hume, in his seminal work “A Treatise of Human Nature,” offered a radical notion of human identity: that the “self,” as we conceive of it, is not a single spiritual or psychological entity, like a “soul,” but rather a collection of discrete sensations and impressions -- a “bundle,” as he called it. Connections between these individual perceptions give rise to the idea of a continuous “self.” And memory gives that self lasting force.

What, then, is any one of us a person -- a "self" -- without our memories?

John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers, posited that what makes us the same person yesterday is "that we can remember what we did or experienced yesterday." So, for Locke, memory is what actually determines who we are. He considered personal identity (or the "self") to be founded on consciousness (in other words "memory") and not on the substance of the soul or the body.

However, all of us have found our "selves" in conscious memory fails. Although some of these unexpected occurrences leave us blank and frantically searching for a spark to initiate recall, we also understand that memories we easily recollect experience a life of alteration with age. Research is discovering what we think we know may be just that -- only what we "think," not necessarily accurate and constant to the original experience.

What Happens When We Think?

In five decades of research, Eric Kandel, a neuroscientist at Columbia University and Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, has shown how our short-term memories -- those lasting a few minutes -- involve relatively quick and simple chemical changes to the synapse that make it work more efficiently.

Kandel found that in order for us to build a memory that lasts hours, days or years, neurons must manufacture new proteins and expand the docks to make the neurotransmitter traffic run more efficiently. Long-term memories must literally be built into our brain’s synapses. Kandel and other neuroscientists have generally assumed that once one of our memories is constructed, it is stable and can’t easily be undone. Or, as they put it, that memory is “consolidated.”

Here is a simple analogy:

"According to this view, the brain’s memory system works something like a pen and notebook. For a brief time before the ink dries, it’s possible to smudge what’s written. But after the memory is consolidated, it changes very little. Sure, memories may fade over the years like an old letter (or even go up in flames if Alzheimer’s disease strikes), but under ordinary circumstances the content of the memory stays the same, no matter how many times it’s taken out and read.

(Greg Miller. "How Our Brains Make Memories." Smithsonian Online. April 29, 2010)

"Memories, particularly important ones, are not like photographs
that freeze a moment in time: they are more like keepsakes
that are reframed with each new look."
--Don Narey

Neuroscientist Karim Nader challenges Kandel's idea. He and his colleagues believe a memory is re-formed in the process of calling it up. In other words, Nader believes that a memory changes every time we think about it. He posits that memories could be unfixed and "reconsolidated" -- a notion that flouted 100 years of conventional wisdom in his field. Nader even suggests that reconsolidation may be the brain’s mechanism for recasting old memories in the light of everything that has happened since. In other words, it just might be what keeps us from living in the past.

Nader says as a memory is rewired, we can add false information to it, make it stronger, make it weaker, and possibly even make it disappear. So when we think about something from the past, the memory is called up like a computer file, reviewed and revised in subtle ways, and then sent back to the brain's archives, now modified slightly, updated, and changed.

Nader discovered that a fear memory induced in a rat and reactivated after 1-12 days of storage in the outer part of the brain could be eradicated with a shot of anisomycin, a protein-synthesis inhibitor.

"Imagine the possible benefit for people traumatized by haunting memories of terror or tragedy. The day may come when the cure is recalling the trauma, and then erasing it with a shot," wondered Dallas Morning News reporter Tom Siegfried.

Legendary film director, Luis Bunuel, writing his autobiography in his eighties, offered up this disclaimer:

“Our imagination, and our dreams, are forever invading our memories; and since we are all apt to believe in the reality of our fantasies, we end up transforming our lies into truths…I am the sum of my errors and doubts as much as my certainties. Such is my memory.”

What could we know of ourselves without memory? Still, even though we rely upon our memory to reason, each recall of a past experience is likely to alter what we understand about it. Perhaps most memories are filled with emotion, and this emotion changes with time. In any event, research makes us question what really comprises the knowledge and reasoning stored in our minds.

While it is somewhat frightening to face alterations since we may distrust the accuracy of our memories, we possess a brain that must be able to rearrange itself, establishing new connections while weeding out old ones. And, since there is a constant decay of memory traces over time, reactivation of the synapses strengthens new thought transmission -- it is much-needed exercise for keeping fit the gray matter in the aging, increasingly forgetful noggin.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Serial Killer or Human Trafficking? Chillicothe and Scioto County Links

Six women have disappeared. Four of them have been found dead. As talk in a small central Ohio city, population 23,000, turns to the possibility of a serial killer or killers, the FBI has joined the case, trying to figure out who or what is happening to these women.

Some were sex workers, most had problems with drug abuse and at least three were addicted to heroin, according to ABC News.

"They all ran in the same circle -- the drug scene and things like that," Chillicothe Police Sgt. Ron Meyers told the Huffington Post.

"They've all lived similar lifestyles. We know they all have drugs addictions -- heroin being the drug of choice for most of them. Also, some prostitution issues in their lives -- so we know that's kind of a link,” Chillicothe Police Officer Bud Lytle said.

(Joe Rosemeyer. "Missing Chillicothe women: Who or what is killing women in small
central Ohio city?" WCPO Cincinnati. June 25, 2015)

It is time to face reality. The public has an important obligation to ALL community members. That obligation is to respond to help the victims of crime no matter their lifestyle or their addiction.

I cannot imagine the huge public outcry if these women had not carried the stigma of being people struggling with terrible personal demons. Although many have answered the call to help, many others show much less concern when so-called "secondary citizens" are victims of criminal acts. The fact is that all of these women are human beings seeking a fruitful existence -- each is an essential piece of the community in which they live. Their peril must be a top concern for all of us.

I would be greatly surprised if the deaths and the disappearances are not part of a highly organized human trafficking network that has roots extending far beyond Chillicothe, Ohio. Here in Scioto County -- less than 50 miles from Chillicothe -- we have experienced a terrible rash of our own missing women.

Connections among the missing are evident to those who seek answers. And, it is true that drug abuse and prostitution here provide "hunting grounds" for sick criminals, especially those who choose to take advantage of human flesh in exchange for money and favor.

These victims are manipulated as slaves in a system that remains "a dirty little secret" to many. Most are fully controlled by substances. They become dependent and addicted while fixes and fear keep them in tow and silent about any abuse. One only has to follow the love of money to find links to the organization of control. These slave masters use the vulnerable to satisfy their own carnal desires, to offer favors to associates, and to make money from the local sex trade.

Portsmouth, Chillicothe, so many other nearby places -- we are the communities in which this obscene human trafficking takes place. We are the communities that suffer the losses and inherit the fears of brutal kidnappings and murder. We are the communities who choose to "let it ride" because drugs and prostitution are beneath us, and, therefore, not really our concern. We are the communities that refuses to "dig deeper" into the disappearances.

And ...

We all have become another community in which our own populace continues to lose lives for lack of full support in helping stop this control and manipulation. Do we in Portsmouth need to join the task force to find missing people in Chillicothe. Of course we do. But just as important, we need to join together to shed daylight onto the terrible abuses of human beings right here in our own community. It is our obligation to do so.

Who in a position of authority is willing to vow the following: "I will not rest until unsolved cases are solved and the evil people among us come to justice"?

Make no mistake, the sex trade and drug connection you see in Portsmouth are parts of a much larger network of human trafficking with NO regard for life. Those with answers need to speak out now to prevent further tragedies. No matter if truths are revealed that expose a dark underbelly that thrives through politics and favor -- our duty is to bring criminals to justice. Our duty is to care for all of our fellow citizens by insuring equality of justice.

Click here for access to the Missing Person Hotline:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Will Portsmouth Police Follow "The New Reality" and Heal a Fractured Relationship With the People?

"Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said the Kasich administration, by way of an Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations, has mandated additional training for police officers — and that training will most likely be paid for by what remains of local government funds which have been diminishing over the last several years and will, for all intents and purposes continue to diminish.

“'It’s probably a catch-22,' Ware said. 'I think we’re probably going to lose some local government funding and we’ll receive some of it back.'

"Ware said the additional training is the new reality in policing and it will continue to be required."

(Frank Lewis. "Ware: additional training mandatory." Portsmouth Daily Times. June 25, 2015)

I believe police in Ohio, and especially in Portsmouth, need additional, mandatory training. As public servants, policeman need special skills -- not only expertise in enforcing the law but also greater aptitude in communicating with people. I feel the police here have a poor relationship with the public that, in part, causes a negative reputation to thrive.

Honesty, transparency, and a caring attitude about equal justice are essential to good policing. Too many times the unwillingness of enforcement to respect the rights of common people have led these citizens to feel neglected in a system that favors power, control, and politics.

In December, 2014, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich appointed 18 members to the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations after a series of incidents in Ohio and around the nation that highlighted tensions between communities and police.

The charge of the Task Force was threefold:

1. To explore the cause of fractured relationships that exist between some law enforcement and
the communities they serve;

2. To examine strategies to strengthen trust between communities and law enforcement in order to resolve the underlying causes of friction;

3. To provide the Governor with a report including recommendations about best practices available to communities.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach from the Northern District of Ohio said improvements can be made.
"In this nation we need to be able to acknowledge and thank officers, but when the facts dictate it, hold police officers accountable," Dettelbach says. Additional training, updated policies, new equipment, and better community policing procedures could help alleviate the department's issues, Dettelbach said.

David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, said, "The single most important fact that I have learned in 30 years working in these neighborhoods is that those of us on the outside focus on the incidents, and people in those neighborhoods focus on the history."

Mistrust exists between residents and police in many neighborhoods, Kennedy said.

"This is not nearly as much about race as we think it is," he said. "This is about community and the police, and they're not getting along."

Kasich then asked the task force to issue a report by April 30, 2015, to provide ideas for how communities across the state can build constructive relationships between communities and police that are built on mutual understanding and respect.

Here are some of the findings of the task force:

* Citizens were adamant that action must be taken to ensure that agencies and officers be held accountable by the communities they serve. All actions -- administratively and criminally performed.

* Universally, it was felt that the police need to be more engaged with communities in which they work. Police must have relationships with communities that evoke trust. They must be proactive partners with the public.

* One suggestion was that police should live in the communities in which they work.

* There exists a need for law enforcement to have more positive interactions with youth at an early age so that these children begin to see police as someone they can trust.

* Citizens noted that the community must make more of an effort to engage with law enforcement, and that mechanisms need to be in place to engage in open, honest dialogue.

* The community perceives race to be an issue among some police officers. Racism is as underlying the fractured relationship between the community and police.

* Citizens perceive law enforcement to be procedurally unjust. Citizens spoke of being treated unfairly and disrespectfully by law enforcement, being subject to unspoken ‘rules’ to which
they must abide, and being denied a voice when interacting with police. Over time, these
factors generate citizens’ perceptions of a procedurally unjust justice system. As a result, law
enforcement officers are no longer viewed as legitimate authority figures.

* Citizens noted that transparency in agency policies and procedures is a critical step toward being viewed as being neutral and fair. In order for law enforcement to be viewed as just and fair.

* The timely, accurate, and ongoing release of information to the public on critical incidents is another very important step in being seen as transparent, and all law enforcement agencies should have a policy that emphasizes this.

* Some felt it is important to have specially trained officers to interact with persons who have mental illness and other disabling conditions, as agencies must be accountable to all members of their community. Roughly 10 percent of the calls for which officers are dispatched involves a mentally ill person in crisis, and agencies can be found ‘deliberately indifferent’ by not having the ability to effectively interact with this population.


(Senator Nina Turner Director John Born. Executive Summary: Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations. April 29, 2015)

(Evan MacDonald. "Five takeaways from task force forum on police and community relations." Cleveland Plain Dealer. January 20, 2015)

I think Police Chief Ware needs to commit fully to what he calls "the new reality in policing." Without a doubt, the public in Portsmouth is sorely aware that police need to be more engaged and to be held more accountable. Time and time again, I hear citizens complaining about a system that seemingly doles our measures of justice based upon a person's social standing, power, and influence. In fact, I know this from my own personal experience.

Transparency is also lacking in the Portsmouth Police Department. Without common access to needed reports and statistics, people are left to wonder why "policy" denies them disclosure. Is it any wonder that policing for the needs of the power structure continues to oppress a community in which the poor have few opportunities for success and advancement? There appears to be an agenda that lies beneath a blanket of purposeful design.

The basis of a strong community is its ability to recognize and support all social strata. People point fingers at the poor and struggling claiming they are nothing but "lazy welfare recipients" and "ignorant bums without initiative," and the authorities are no exception to contributing to that kind of ad hominem character attack. This prejudice helps assure a division between classes that contributes to political control because people without knowledge jump into the bandwagon and scapegoat the poor for all of the ills of the community.

Hope, direction, and a real chance for a positive future strengthens those in peril. But, you can't provide these things if you truly do not understand the population. Some here have never known the struggles of those living in the Projects, the Bottoms, or the Ville, and while willing to pay lip service to understanding the needs of those less fortunate, they offer tokens of help if they offer help at all. The folks in poverty don't need charity as much as they need equality.

A share in the real decisions of the direction of the town would give the poor immeasurable happiness and real stimulus for initiative. This can only happen when public servants recognize they must provide poor citizens with equal justice and equal standing as far as their basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's been a long time coming. I am hopeful for major improvement very soon.

"Ohio earned a 'D' in the recent State Integrity Investigation
looking at transparency, accountability and anti-corruption
mechanisms in place in all 50 states. The state fared poorly
in the area of effective access to information."

("How bright are Ohio's Sunshine Laws in Southwest Ohio?" WVXU - Cincinnati)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

All Americans Must Possess "The Gift Outright"

The Gift Outright

By Robert Frost (1874–1963)       

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

With due apologies to Native Americans, I believe Robert Frost's poem solidifies the understanding that not only are we stewards of our land, but also we are dependent upon it for our free existence. Living in a depressed area of Appalachia, I see the need for a community commitment to save this beautiful environment from ravages that occur through indifference and neglect.

Frost recited “The Gift Outright” at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. Frost had originally planned to recite a poem entitled “Dedication” that he had written for the event. However, because of the glare of the sun and his poor eyesight (he was eighty-seven years old at the time), he was unable to read his copy of the poem and instead recited “The Gift Outright.”

The tone of the poem can be seen as defensive and even belligerent in terms of its approach to the land. Frost repeats the term “ours” numerous times in the text, but insists that the “we” of the poem is the white settlers from Europe, rather than the original “owners” of the land: the Native Americans.

One may assume that the charge -- "The land was ours before we were the land’s" -- applies to natives and to colonists alike, but "Frost ignores the conflict between the colonists and the Native Americans and instead focuses on the clash between the Old World and the New World, the European world of tradition and oppression and the new American world of freedom and destiny."

(The Poetry of Robert Frost. Analysis of "The Gift Outright." 1941)

She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.

At first, the colonists owned the land; however, they could not draw a true national identity from it because they were still tied to England. By embracing the lessons of the land, they were able to establish an American identity.

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

The source of weakness for the colonists is symbolized as a lack of surrender to the fact that a manifest destiny gave them the right to build a land that was not based on the traditions of Europe. They had to offer themselves to the land itself, not to the British, and become inhabitants who were willing to establish their own American identities in a new nation.

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

This gift Americans gave themselves -- "a deed of land" -- required human payments of war and tremendous deeds of personal valor. It took a great toll of human suffering and death to acquire and to defend. And, later a Westward expansion as yet "vaguely realized" by the colonists of the time led to land "still unstoried" -- a great nation from humble beginnings that eventually spanned sea to sea.

I believe without a vision and an understanding of "a gift outright" we still must honor and strive to achieve, we have no connection to America, in particular to the literal "land" beneath our feet. It is this land, the earth itself, that we possess with great obligations to enrich it in every way. I wish the birthright of every American included a deed to a plot of soil so important to our way of life.

We can never be proud of our area until we develop an appreciation of our surroundings that includes a duty to improve what we have, no matter how dilapidated or how sorely ignored. This pride has nothing to do with the rich acquiring more and building new, fabulous structures as monuments to personal achievement. It has nothing to do with the maintenance of the power and the strength of one political segment of the community.

Instead, it has everything to do with common citizens grasping the land -- their gift -- and the ownership of their own rights, freedoms, and dreams. The American Dream is suffering so much that a cancer of poverty threatens to snuff it out forever. We are still "possessed by what we now no more possessed."

People must have the land, and after acquiring it, they must repeat the actions of their forefathers: They must find salvation in the soil where they live. If not, the land must be taken by new and better common stewards.

A Note: My sincere apologies to Native Americans who so nobly fought to defend their land. As a descendent of immigrants, I feel ashamed of the brutal tactics which Europeans used to drive natives from their homes. I do realize all immigrants are interlopers and subject to the accusations of unspeakable deeds. I can only wish immigration wasn't full of these horrible deeds. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meet the Poor of 2015 -- Alone and Forgotten

"I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine,
I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine.

"All I can hear I-me-mine, I-me-mine, I-me-mine,
Even those tears I-me-mine, I-me-mine, I-me-mine,
No one's frightened of playing it,
Everyone's saying it,
Flowing more freely than wine,
All through the day I-me-mine."

From "I Me Mine" by the Beatles 

Taking all you can get... and even a little more at the expense of others less fortunate... seems to be the overpowering desire of so many. The gap between those who "have" and those who "have not" is increasingly widening. I believe the love of money causes greed that leaves little concern for a large segment of American society who struggle just to survive.

In an editorial titled "The Invisible Poor" (2000), James Fallows wrote the following:

"The way a rich nation thinks about its poor will always be convoluted. The richer people become in general, the easier it theoretically becomes for them to share with people who are left out. But the richer people become, the less they naturally stay in touch with the realities of life on the bottom, and the more they naturally prefer to be excited about their own prospects rather than concerned about someone else's."

(James Fallows. "The Invisible Poor." The New York Times. March 19, 2000)

Fallows saw a social and imaginative separation between the rich and the poor. He continued ...

"This is not the embattled distance of the 'Bonfire of the Vanities' period, with its gated communities and atmosphere of urban armed camps. It's more like simple invisibility, because of increasing geographic, occupational and social barriers that block one group from the other's view.

"Prosperous America does not seem hostile to the poor, and often responds generously when reminded. But our poor are like people in Madagascar. We feel bad for them, but they live someplace else."

By standard measures of real income and wages, the poorest and least educated Americans have experienced a falling standard of living since 1975. Rising inequality in family incomes reflects rising inequality in wages, the most important source of income for most Americans. Wage inequality has increased dramatically for both men and women. Although many compelling moral arguments for reducing economic inequality exist, richer Americans seem to have a high tolerance for economic inequality and often prefer to blame the poor for all of their ills.

(William A. Sundstrom. "The Income Gap." Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Santa Clara University)

According to a new study, the wealth gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99% in the U.S. is as wide as it's been in nearly 100 years. Between 1993 and 2012, the real incomes of the 1% grew 86.1%, while those of the 99% grew 6.6%, according to the research based on Internal Revenue Service statistics examined by economists at UC Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

From 2009 to 2012, as the U.S. economy improved, incomes of the top 1% grew more than 31%, while the incomes of the 99% grew 0.4% - less than half a percentage point. Economist Emmanuel Saez of UC Berkeley reports, "This implies that the top 1% incomes captured just over two-thirds of the overall economic growth of real incomes per family over the period 1993-2012."

(Connie Stewart. "Income gap between rich and poor is biggest in a century."
Los Angeles Times. September 11, 2013)

A famous quote from Voltaire still holds true: “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”
It is imperative not to forget that the poor are still a very important component of today’s society. As consumers and workers, they comprise a segment of the population that provides obvious economic and social benefits for all. Yet, for all practical purposes, they are a neglected minority. Politicians rave about the importance of helping the middle class while any mention of the poor has become a “dirty word” in American politics.

A basic tenet of sociological practice is that to solve a social problem, people must begin by seeing it as social. If a society is set in its beliefs that poverty is caused by failures of individual initiative and effort, and people are poor because "there’s something lacking in them," then, in the eyes of other classes, the poor have no right to complain about their condition. Yet, who can deny the inequality in how the system and all its advancements are organized? Who can deny the poor are oppressed?

A primary characteristic of the class system is social mobility. In other words an individual can move up, or down, the class structure. In fact, now, more than ever, the underclass lives in areas with high concentrations of poverty and fewer opportunities to improve their lives.

Dr. D. Stanley Eitzen, professor emeritus in sociology from Colorado State University, argues that the so-called "new-poor" are much more trapped by poverty than the poor in previous generations mainly because there is little need for hard physical labor. Eitzen says ...

"The new poor are the poor who are displaced by new technologies or whose jobs have moved away to the suburbs, to other regions of the country, or out of the country. The new poor have little hope of breaking out of poverty."

(D. Stanley Eitzen and Maxine Baca-Zinn. Social Problems. 2003)

Oh, there are government anti-poverty programs which are basically in place to "help poor individuals" but they do nothing to change the social system that dooms so many to poverty. Novelist and sociologist Allan G. Johnson puts it this way ...

"The easiest way to see this is to look at the antipoverty programs themselves. They come in two main varieties. The first holds individuals responsible by assuming that financial success is solely a matter of individual qualifications and behavior. In other words, if you just run faster, you’ll finish the race ahead of people who are currently beating you, and then they’ll be poor instead of you. We get people to run faster by providing training and motivation. What we don’t do, however, is look at the rules of the race or question whether the basic necessities of life should be distributed through competition.

"The result is that some people rise out of poverty by improving their competitive advantage, while others sink into it when their advantages no longer work and they get laid off or their company relocates to another country or gets swallowed up in a merger that boosts the stock price for shareholders and earns the CEO a salary that in 2005 averaged more than 262 times the average worker’s pay. But nothing is even said – much less done – about an economic system that allows a small elite to own and control most of the wealth and sets up the rest of the population to compete over what’s left."

(Allan G. Johnson. The Forest and the Trees. 2013)

It has been nearly half a century since President Lyndon Johnson declared "war on poverty." That initiative produced great successes, and many of its programs have been very effective -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps); Head Start; Medicaid; the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program; school breakfast programs; and federal aid for poor schools and students.

Dan Glickman, US Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 until 2001 and now a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, says ...

"After years of erosion of wages and benefits, the U.S. poverty rate has risen and approaches a 50-year high. Yet poverty has become an almost invisible issue for policymakers and the press. It feels today like a "war on poverty" would need to begin with a battle just to gain recognition that poverty even exists."

(Dan Glickman. "America's Invisible Poor." U.S. News & World Report. May 01, 2013)

Meet the Poor of 2015

A 2012 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed alarming child poverty rates in the United States, particularly when compared to other developed nations. For example, the United States ranks second highest among all measured countries with 23.1 percent of children living in poverty, just under Romania, with 25.6 percent.

Allow Dr. César Chelala, an international public health consultant, to introduce the neglected and struggling poor of our nation:

"Today, four out of five adults in the United States struggle to find jobs, are near poverty, or rely on welfare for at least part of their lives, and there is fear that the situation is going to get worse, at least for those in the lower echelons of the economic scale.

"The number of America’s poor remains at a record 46.2 million, or approximately 15 percent of the population, due in part to still-high unemployment levels. Despite their high numbers, they are sometimes called 'the invisible poor' since they tend to live in small rural towns in America’s heartland, far away from politicians and government officials to see, or 'feel their pain.'

"According to the Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 'food security' refers to the availability of food and a person’s access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. Based on this criterion, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households (33.5 million adults and 16.7 million children.)

"'Economic insecurity' has been defined as a year or more of periodic lack of jobs, reliance on government assistance such as food stamps, or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. If current trends continue, by 2030, close to 85 percent of all working-class adults in the United States will experience bouts of economic insecurity, according to Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2011, 4.8 million seniors (over age 60) were food insecure.

"Poverty affects individuals’ access to quality education and quality health care. Low-income communities cannot afford the same quality of education as high-income communities. Females in poverty are more likely to become pregnant at younger ages, and have fewer resources to care for their children. Many among them end up dropping out of school.

"The significant proportion of children living in food insecure households makes them more prone to have nutritional and other associated health problems. Poor children have higher infant mortality rates, more frequent and severe chronic diseases such as respiratory infections, less access to quality health care, lower immunization rates, and increased obesity and its complications."

(Dr. César Chelala. America’s Neglected Poor. Epoch Times. September 4, 2013)

Despite the railing about welfare and the apparent stigma that exists toward the poor, America is full of hard-working Americans whose jobs pay less than a living wage and whose existence provides them little dignity with few offers of paths for advancement.

Meanwhile, the rich do not depend upon a spirit of cooperation and equity to ensure happiness in their lives -- their fortunes are not fixed to the success of a cooperative society. The rich do not worry about crime next door, affordable accessible health care, job security, educational opportunities, or food on the table and gas in the tank. Instead, they worry about acquiring a bigger share for themselves.

I think the rich have placed themselves as a group politically and socially "more than equal" than others in our society. Power of command over others is something they use, not to cooperate with the poor, but to enjoy and insure their independence from the less-fortunate. Hardly mixing with ordinary people except those who serve them, they have no idea what being poor in America is about. And, all indications are that this ignorance will increase over time as the invisible poor are blamed for their own conditions.

"We must make our choice. We may have democracy,
or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,
but we can't have both."  

--Justice Louis Brandeis