Saturday, October 24, 2015
A guy I know who works in the municipal court was telling us about how the crowd became enraged when he attempted to help a frequent flyer. Never mind the rage part, they were on the other side of the glass wall, but what, pray tell, is a 'frequent flyer', I ask. He tells me that it's someone who has been arrested 50 times.
50 times! And evidently it's not uncommon, I mean they have a term for these people. What kind of person gets arrested 50 times? I suppose alcoholics and someone who is mentally ill could be committing minor infractions like sleeping or urinating where they aren't allowed. Or maybe they are peddling drugs and there just isn't room to keep them locked up, so they are released and they go back to work and a few days later get picked up again. Whatever the reason, there is something very wrong with our system where we are expending valuable resources (courtrooms, lawyers, judges, and all the other people who work in the court system) on chickenshit. Our systems is neither correcting these people nor dissuading them from committing the same offense again.
Then I read that banks collected $30 billion in overdraft fees last year. That's like $100 from every person in the country. I can imagine that there are a few flakes who have so much money they can be careless with it, and if they run up a thousand dollars in overdraft fees a month it's no big deal. But there aren't very many of those folks. I've had a couple or three overdraft charges in my life, and I like to think that I am not out of the ordinary. To make up for all the people who keep track of their money and for all the ones who don't even have a bank account, there must be a bunch of people incurring $1000 worth of charges a year, like one person out of ten. I just don't get it. Doesn't $1,000 mean anything anymore?
But maybe it goes along with all the other stupid stuff people do, like buying ready made cigarettes (a pack a day habit is going to cost you two grand a year), or buying lottery tickets, or carrying a balance on your credit card. Or borrowing money to buy a liberal arts education. Yes, you can easily get yourself into a bind where your only option is to kite a check or charge something you can't pay off. But it's also possible to live really cheaply. It can be a bit of a struggle to adjust to doing without, and your 'friends' might sneer when you aren't wearing the latest fashion. But what do you want? Do you want to be free? Or do you want to spend the rest of your life as a slave in our great capitalist system?