Two petty injustices.

I believe that the sum total of petty injustice in the world far outwieghs the large ones that get all the attention. For every tragedy that ends lives or oppresses freedom, there are milions of smaller indignities born by millions of people every day. These injustices don't get a lot of attention, although they should. Here are two:
  1. Credit Card companies defrauding card holders who traveled overseas by increasing the base exchange rate and tacking on a few points over that as well. I would not have known except for a settlement packet in the mail. There are several points of injustice here:
    1. I didn't know about it until the case was over.
    2. The case settled for $313m. That seems like a very small amount because this case covered 10 years of fraud.
    3. THey make it hard to get your money.
      1. Most people will get the easy pay option $25
      2. However, you only get 30 days to make your claim
      3. Where does the excess go?
    4. The lawyers get 27.5% of the settlement. That's $86m. Oh, and that doesn't include expenses (which tacks on another $5m). Not a bad payout for 2 people for 6 years of work - it works out to $7.2m/year. Who are these hardworking individuals, you ask?
      1. Bonney Sweeney, 665 West Broadway #1900, San Diego CA 92101
      2. Merrill Davidoff, 1622 Locust St., Philidelphia PA 19103
    5. The injustice here is that this kind of case should strike fear in the hearts of lenders, as in "You know Bob it's a great idea to tack on those fees, but remember the legal firestorm of 2008 when we did it last time?" ; but all that's happened is that the lenders got of very cheaply and the lawyers got a super fat payday.
  2. Local law enforcement and their petty abuse of power. I've run into cops (OC Sherriffs) with bad attitudes before, who've told me off and grabbed cameras out of my hands, and generally acted like thugs. But the OC Weekly writes about an outrageous incident that happened 4 years ago. It is truly disgusting. No one got killed or seriously wounded, which is why only the OC Weekly is covering the story, and 4 years later at that. It's no less wrong just because no-one got killed. (There are a variety of letters from readers, that point out how common this kind of misbehavior is). The only remarkable thing about the incident is that the family is seeking legal recourse, and that it's getting any news coverage at all.
    1. The injustice here is that police are not held to a higher standard of conduct, but rather to a lower one. Who doesn't have sympathy for police? The work is hard, the pay is crap, and you are constantly dealing with miserable people. The terminus of this trend is the kind of widespread corruption you find in Mexico, which paralyzes the entire country and keeps the people in crushing poverty. (Indeed, the oppressor in Mexico is just these myriad of petty injustices.)
    2. What
      Omar Patel (the officer who's angry and confrontational attitude escalated and created the problem) fails to realize is that you don't get respect with anger and posturing. You get respect by helping people to solve their problems. An officer's mission is to serve and protect - and that doesn't mean your own ego, it means the very public you chose to assault.


Alexandra said...

:::warning cynical political rant to follow::

I want to say that I'm surprised. I want to say that I'm outraged. I want to say that I don't know how things like this can happen in the United States. I want to say all those things, but I'm just not a very convincing liar.

Actions like those of the credit card companies and the police are really just more evidence of the slow cancer that has been eating away at the ideals of this once-great nation for decades. Until recently I had been at a loss for a way to describe this slow descent into madness. Then I saw an interview with Ron Paul (not a supporter just saw the interview) where he described the state of the nation as "soft fascism", and I finally had the words.

During an interview on PBS's "Bill Moyer's Journal" Ron Paul said, "We're not moving toward Hitler-type fascism, but we're moving toward a softer fascism. Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business. So you have the military-industrial complex, you have the medical-industrial complex, you have the financial industry, you have the communications industry. That's where the control is. I call that a soft form of fascism, something that is very dangerous." I can't help but agree. What else is it when the government is constantly in bed with big-business, a CUSTOMER SERVICE REP is the one who tells you if you require medical attention, and an ever growing loss of civil liberties makes it nearly impossible to say or do ANYTHING anymore?

How free is a country where you can't take a picture of a public area without a cop taking your camera and giving your information to the FBI? How democratic is a country where the voice of the people is drowned out by the sound of kickbacks and lobbyists? We are so used to talking about how "free" our nation is, that it seems that few people have noticed how our civil liberties are being curtailed. Sure, we have plenty of political freedoms, but ya know, I'd take a lifelong dictator who allowed me all the civil liberties this country was founded on and who kept business and law enforcement in check over an elected term official who restricts my rights and sells me down the river any day.

All it takes to be arrested and held is to look "suspicious", you don't have to actually commit a real crime anymore. We're told that the police need to be able to do this in order to protect us. From what? Seems like no one who is arrested for no reason is part of a violent terrorist plot, so what is the point? And you know what? You SHOULD be able to shout profanities at a police officer or give them "the finger". It is their JOB to be the better person and to be able to tell the difference from a real threat and an attitude problem. Last I checked it wasn't illegal to have an attitude problem. When you live in a country where you can't "flip off" a police officer without getting arrested, then you live in a country where normal laws don't apply to law enforcement agents. There's a term for this too! According to The Encyclopedia Brittanica the correct term is "police state". Police state is a term for a state in which the government exercises rigid and (in many peoples' opinions) repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population, especially by means of a police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional republic. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive. Hmmm... little difference between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive, operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional republic. Huh, sounds a bit like the Patriot Act to me, but then again I'm just a crazy hippy.

And as for the credit card companies... they DID commit a crime! It's called THEFT and if I did it I would go to jail, and it wouldn't take 6 years to put me there. Also, I wouldn't be allowed to KEEP stealing while the courts decided my case! Why is theft different when someone with more money does it? If I take your money, whether I steal your wallet, your identity, or just give you wrong change on purpose, then I'm arrested and I go to jail. However, if Visa steals money from you, FIRST the courts have to decide if the way they stole from you is a crime, which means that they can keep doing it until someone makes a decision! The interest ALONE on the stolen moneys more than pays the eventual settlements and the people who are actually damaged rarely get any real reparations. If you have enough money to make it worth the government's while, then they make sure that your slap on the wrist doesn't hurt so much. Sounds great! I'm Visa, right? Oh, wait, no, I'm just a middle class citizen. DAMN! That sucks for me! I don't have the money to make the government listen to me, so I guess I'm SOL.

Fascism and Police State are heavy words to be throwing around, I know, and I don't think that things have gotten to that point... yet. But they will and people will accept each and every step in that direction unless they begin to open their eyes and look at what is really going on. The small indignities that we learn to accept prepare us for the large injustices. Nationalism is masquerading as patriotism and when people begin to think that the government always knows best, then the hard part of transitioning to a fascist police state is already done. As Americans we like to think that we are above that, that we are better than that, that we would never put up with that. Not only DO we put up with it, but we SUPPORT it and condemn those who speak out against the coming darkness.

Here's some food for thought, my mum, who is 5'2" and weighs 105 lbs, once told me that the important thing to remember about government is that even SHE could eat a whole elephant if I cut the pieces small enough and gave her time to chew each one. I think maybe we've all been eating elephant for a long time, now, and the thing that keeps me awake some nights is knowing that if things keep going in the direction they are, it won't be the hands of some hidden Gestapo that rip you from your bed and drag you to some cold, dark cell one night, it will be the hands of your friends and neighbors.

josh said...

I'm not so cynical as that, not because you aren't justified in being cynical, but because I don't think it's a good place to stop the trend, or even reverse it.

My hope is that greater visibility (via the Internet, perhaps?) can slow things down. My hope is that better education - a focus on virtue and morality, rather than sex and wealth - will better serve our people, especially those with certain amounts of authority over others. There is an idealism that's missing in law enforcement that I'd like to see put back in place.

In other news, the LAPD is at it again, this time getting caught in a bald faced lie about a drug arrest. I hope the LAPD internal affairs people nail these guys to the wall. The PD cannot afford to let the public perceive a "circling of the wagons." Obviously the DA has already given the officers a vote of no confidence by ceasing prosecution - that's good!