Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Your Own?

Greetings good citizen,

Considering there isn’t much the media wouldn’t do to preserve the carefully cultivated image of tranquility and prosperity, we can only wonder if editors at mainstream media outlets have been, er, ‘trimming’ what is and isn’t ‘newsworthy’ as part of their ‘perception management’ campaign?

Not every crime is news worthy but, given the ‘jaded’ eye of the media, how much crime goes unreported by the ‘watchdogs’ of society? [Worse, how much goes unreported at the behest of those charged with maintaining order? (Fearing the problem will get worse if it becomes widely known…)]

It’s all a dance good citizen, more of an illusion than a balancing act…if you think you are safe, then you are safe (until something happens, proving otherwise…)

In a world where municipal budgets are currently stretched beyond the breaking point, how safe are you under a pay for everything system? [If the tax dollars aren’t there, neither is the ‘protection’ they supposedly provide…but don’t get the wrong idea good citizen, the cops have their ‘priorities’ too and guess where taxpayers fall? (Hint: they don’t come first!)]

Perhaps I should elaborate: You wake up to the shrill yelp of your dog being…er, silenced, you sneak to your window in time to see/hear the perp jimmy your back door…you grab your portable phone and dial 911. Glancing out your window, you can see the body of your beloved family pet lying lifeless on the ground…

If the perp was willing to kill our dog is he equally as determined to do whatever it takes to get what he wants?

Most people would draw the line between pets and humans but most people don’t break into houses in the dead of night...

The 911 operator answers swiftly and you whisper that you’re trapped in your house by an armed intruder who has slain your pet, send help quick because you are defenseless.

The police dispatcher calls the only available unit and fills them in on the situation, she also advises them that there is no back up, the only other unit is busy with a DWI.

Not two seconds later does an alarm go off at the local bank!

What does the dispatcher do?

Perhaps more importantly, what has she been told to do?

Fully aware that there is a possible homicidal maniac inside a citizen’s home, she radios the only available patrol vehicle and re-directs them to the bank…the Mayor/Town manager will fire her ass if he learns she did otherwise!

To her credit, the moment she ‘does her duty’ and redirects the local unit, she promptly calls the State police to deal with the intruder, hoping against hope that there is a unit close enough to bring the breaking and entering incident to a peaceful conclusion.

But yeah good citizen…the cops aren’t there to ‘protect’ you…your second amendment rights do that…the cops exist to protect commerce, that’s job one…(well, job one is to protect politicians, but they won’t ever admit that.)

Same thing for the Fire Department…you’ve got a hose…fight your own fire! If bad luck causes your property to burn at the same time a local business catches fire, guess where the fire department will report first? (This is a simplification, even the rinky dinkiest of towns has enough equipment/back up to fight multiple fires…but that doesn’t alter who gets priority!)

You pay for the equipment and their salaries, but they aren’t there ‘for you’. (Which is to point out ‘just’ for you…if nothing else is going on, then they certainly are obliged to lend all possible assistance…unless ‘something else’ pops up.)

But this isn’t about ‘Public Safety’ (which isn’t nearly as ‘public’ as they’d like you to believe…) This is about our corporate owned ‘free press’ and the, er, ‘quality’ of their reporting.

Would/does the media ‘keep us informed’ or are we largely in the dark when it comes to the true state of ‘civil order’?

[Purloined from: Financial Armageddon]

On Your Own

Many observers (including me) have been surprised by the fact that crime has remained relatively subdued in the wake of the financial crisis. Among other things, it's apparent that a lot of people are in desperate straits, which might naturally lead many of them to consider alternative -- read: illegal -- ways of getting their hands on cold, hard cash and acquiring the things they need to survive. [Left to our imaginations is what happened to the people who gutted their foreclosed properties before ‘surrendering’ them to officers of the court? (Understand that not all of this ‘mining’ was done by the former owners, many of these houses were stripped after the legal owners were ordered to (and did in fact) ‘quit’ them…]

Some might say times have changed, and people are, in certain respects at least, much more civilized than in the past. [One need only listen to a few minutes of conservative ‘talk radio’ for strong evidence to the contrary!] Others might point to the large number of Americans receiving emergency unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other forms of safety-net assistance, which has taken some of the sting out of the downturn.[These programs are the main reason ‘why’ we have yet to see full scale riots, but they can’t keep these ‘giveaways’ up forever!] A few might note the large number of criminals who are behind bars, which has reduced the population of potential trouble-makers roaming the streets.

Then again, if the following New York Times report, "A Rise in Violent Crime Evokes City’s Unruly Past," is anything to go by, maybe it was only just a matter of time before the fallout from the Great Unraveling triggered an upsurge in criminal activity. [It is far more likely that such a ‘breakdown’, when it occurs, will be/appear ‘spontaneous’. You will quite literally be witnessing bloody mayhem and there won’t be a cop in sight!]

Teenagers flashing knives in a spate of high school stabbings. Two men murdered in a brawl aboard a downtown No. 2 subway train. Four people shot and 33 others arrested in late-night melees in Times Square that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described with a loaded term from the past: “wilding.” [Okay, these are all instances that were probably witnessed by hundreds of people…so ‘not’ reporting them was a non-starter. But, we’d have to have copies of the paper to see view exactly how these stories were ‘covered’. Were these stories ‘buried’, crowded off the front page by more ‘interesting’ news items?

It is impossible to know if the recent increase in violent crime in the city is legitimate cause for concern that the “bad old days” of crime may return, or if it simply represents a blip in a trend line continuing a descent of nearly two decades. [Is the ‘trend’ less crime or less reporting of crime? There’s no good way to tell.]

Homicides are up nearly 22 percent in 2010, compared with the same period last year. Shootings are up in the city, to 293 from 257, a 14 percent increase. And there are more victims of gunfire: 351 through April 4, up from 318 in the same period a year ago. [Okay, ‘someone’ is ‘keeping track’, but that does not mean these results are being reported. Mr. Panzer links to another site as the ‘source’ of this story.]

But it is not statistics, but rather the tenor and pace of 2010’s spasm of disorder that are suggestive of a bygone era, and have again raised questions about whether New York City is finally at the end of crime declines.

Add to this a depleted police headcount — and city and state budgets that remain stubbornly unsolved — and crime is suddenly a political hammer: The mayor is lobbying for money from Albany, and state lawmakers are pleading poverty even as they try to close a $9.2 billion budget gap and serve the needs of constituencies from Buffalo to Bridgehampton.

Last week, after hordes of young people swarmed Times Square in what has evolved in recent years into a violent Easter night ritual, the mayor used a term popularized in 1989 when a Central Park jogger was brutally attacked, emblematic of an era when crime in the city was at its apex. That followed comments he made in March when he called the uptick in homicides “worrisome,” and decried, “We have fewer police officers on the streets than we did before.”

His choice of words was significant for a mayor who typically gives little credence to minor fluctuations in data. But the posturing is laced with a degree of caution, as city officials strive to sound the alarms of budget cuts while at the same time assuring the public that the streets remain as safe as they have ever been.

Addressing a radio audience on Sunday, Mr. Bloomberg said that since 2001, overall crime was down 40 percent, murder was down 35 percent and subway crime was down nearly by half.

Under the governor’s and the Senate’s budget proposals, the city would lose roughly $1.3 billion, and a little more than half of that under the Assembly’s plan. The mayor warned in January that the governor’s proposal would force the Police Department to lay off 3,150 officers, bringing the force down to same level it was in 1985. He backed off that statement last week, saying on his weekly radio program that the city was “not going to lay off cops.”

Nonetheless, the police force has been shrinking steadily, from a high of 40,285 officers in 2000, to about 35,600 last year. [At least not ‘publicly’]

Even if the cuts in the governor’s proposal were fully restored, the department’s uniformed count is still on course to drop below 33,000 through attrition by July 2011, its lowest level since 1990, when it had 32,441 officers, including housing and transit police before the departments were merged.

That was the year murders in the city peaked at 2,245, making it one of the nation’s top murder capitals. Not only is the force smaller, but it is also being pulled in more directions, with roughly 1,000 officers on counterterrorism duty. The department devotes cars and resources to a critical response team and to provide a presence near potential terrorist targets, though those resources can be redeployed to areas with elevated crime.

Some officials worry the city is already slipping toward its lawless past.

“What is the tipping point?” said Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president. “How low can you go, in actual police numbers? And I think what these statistics say, and these other incidents say, especially those who have been around the city all our lives, is we may have tipped a little.”

The article continues with horror stories from other parts of the nation but you catch the general drift.

I am not kicking those who selflessly serve the public in the shins, I merely focus your attention on how these brave men and women are ordered to respond at the behest of, er, ‘our’ elected officials.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ‘redirect’ your attention to why Mr. Panzer broaches this particular subject. If things were really as bad as we gloom and doomers keep saying they are, where is the ‘crime wave’ that will signal the end of civil order?

Um, is that glass half empty or half full? I’d say it’s irrelevant, when the ‘end’ comes it will strike like lightening, so ferociously will that attack come that it will drive the forces charged with protecting you into hiding.

Yes good citizen, they are human too and they will follow their ‘instincts’ when the onslaught is perceived to be ‘formidable’.

They won’t care what the radio is blasting at them, they, like you, will be ‘on their own’…

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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