alcalloway.jpgDo we really want an America where out of some 350 million people, a small robber baron elite can control the nation’s entire financial apparatus, ripping off investors with various Ponzi schemes and the people’s taxes for bailout stick-ups?

Where is “the law” that is so readily applied with heavy hand, especially when transgressions of the poor, near-poor and minorities come to light? Separate and unequal has always been the hallmark of America’s system of justice – stratified to “keep order,” meaning, to protect the status quo – to protect and promote robber-baron interests.

Lawlessness, prosperity and progress have been an indispensable formula for this “whatever it takes” band of mostly highly respected moguls and their minions. These people don’t just feel privileged, they know they are and they act that way.

Not surprisingly, the “Fourth Estate,” (the press, and I particularly mean here the daily press that daily features stories and police photographs of blacks and other minorities arrested for petty theft, small-scale drug possession and assaulting one another), has registered shock at the shenanigans on Wall Street and in Washington, D. C.

How many times have you known the daily press to probe and report where inner-city drugs come from and what financial institutions launder and move the money? Both law enforcement agencies and media organizations know that mostly whites and Latinos own the raw materials, processing, distribution markets, planes, boats and other vehicles of the international drug trade. They also know that blacks do not. But black drug arrests predominate!       

Separate and unequal, that is America. And unfortunately for the vaunted “democratic process,” leaders of every stripe have not only acquiesced to robber-baron rule, they also tend to imitate their behavior as a means of getting ahead. Take Ray Sansom, the new speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, a Republican from Destin. Now this fellow quickly slid from slick to stupid, buttressed by greed.  

Last year, Sansom slicked more than $25 million to Northwest Florida State College in his district for a total of about $35 million overall that he funneled to the school as budget chairman. In return, the school gave him $110,000 a year as a vice president. The sundry details of this caper include grand jury and other investigations, resignation from the college post, and a possible loss of the House speaker position.

What kind of America do we want, people? Do we want leaders like Sansom? What about John Thain, CEO of Merrill Lynch, which merged with Bank of America through taxpayers’ bailout money? This guy secretly lavished his staff with bonuses last month, and redecorated his office to the tune of $1.22 million of company, i.e., taxpayers’ money.

The total secret Wall Street bonus bailout last month came to an astounding $18 billion! Thain and other failed top business executives exemplify the unconscionable robber baron ethos.  

In Broward County recently, two county commissioners, Josephus Eggelletion and John Rodstrom, whose combined districts represent perhaps the largest swath of majority black neighborhoods, both voted against the interests of their black constituents.

Lobbyist Ron Book successfully lobbied the Broward County Board of County Commissioners on behalf of bail bondsmen to change the successful pretrial-release program to require more defendants to post bail. Not only had the program before that change been cost effective, it allowed many poor and near-poor non-indigent defendants to work while awaiting trial, some wearing ankle bracelets, others reporting periodically, without posting bail.

How in the world is the public interest served when the commission voted to squeeze money out of the poor, many of whom will now have to languish in jail awaiting trial – which costs us taxpayers around $90 a day per inmate? So the jails will become grossly overcrowded (thereby justifying the need to build a new jail) and corrections costs will soar.

Is this the kind of America we want? Here we have a powerful lobbyist, Ron Book, whose big bag full of heavy-hitter clients makes politicians salivate for campaign funds, is, incongruously, also a key lobbyist for the Broward County Board of County Commissioners! What a mess. There’s much more folks, but I’m out of space.

P.S. Only Commissioners Kristin Jacobs and Lois Wexler voted against Ron Book’s bail measure. Let the community understand that they will need vast voter support for their re-election bids.