Monday, March 30, 2015


These words were in the title of yesterday's Times Herald Sunday editorial.  But what was the message?  It went on to say that a local crime sweep on the evening of March 20th was to be applauded and showed that police agencies “are taking Port Huron residents’ concerns seriously.”  There is another way of looking at the dragnet of squad cars and state police helicopters deployed Friday night, if you are low income in Port Huron which many are—and that’s from down below, looking up at a society bent on pushing you further down.

oor folks had to pay taxes for this too, any time they’re fortunate enough to land a regular job, with any purchase of goods or gas at local businesses, and a disproportionate number pay fines for misdemeanors, traffic stops, vehicles in disrepair, not properly insured, expired licenses.  It would be good to have a report from this newspaper on the details of these recent arrests and citations—exactly what were their crimes.   How serious the offenses, how many related to insufficient funds for them to make the payments required of the law abiding citizens?   And then the precise total cost for the Friday police operation needs to be calculated and reported.

We will get what we pay for.  If our society continues to invest in police state measures of Homeland Security, instead of public education {see Sunday TH article on 45 million illiterate Americans}, with job and manufacturing opportunities that pay a decent wage, we can expect further numbers to fall into marginal or illicit activities that lead to deeper poverty and incarceration.   Do we want more money for a police state and prison-welfare system, or a productive economy with an informed intelligent citizenry?

 case in point is a single mother my wife and I know who has three young children expecting a fourth.  She is about to be homeless, facing eviction, and though a high school graduate and having held a number of steady jobs, has lost most of them because with a suspended driver's license [ten years ago—no alcohol since] she has had to depend on others to get to work.  She is sharp and capable but with a couple strikes against her, often made victim.

For one year now she has maintained a restricted license, no infractions, using a fickle breathalyzer ignition device, just on the verge of reapplying for an unrestricted license, to be free of the costly process of these restrictions, paperwork and legal fees.   [It took 2 years to get to this point, due to Secretary of State slow response times of months on end for forms and interviews.]  Even with no recent record, and good recommendations, a lawyer had to be hired to get the restricted license.  The thousands it took to move this process beyond her previous unsuccessful attempt, was donated.   Unless you’re a lawyer yourself, or professional with means, a DUI conviction in Michigan, even if years ago, then means an almost impossible road back.

That Friday night she was driving to get diapers for her kids with diarrhea and was cited for running a yellow light.   All her work to improve her situation is now in jeopardy, and a lawyer again must be hired.   The state police officer making the stop here in town may have been technically correct, but how much the whole operation makes us safe from crime, and how much just a further millstone around the neck of the poor, is yet to be determined.

We who are the innocent unharmed bystanders can stand by and watch as our fellow low income citizens slide deeper under, or realize that this inequality and mercilessness is taking the middle class with it, and damaging the souls of all of us, rich included.

Let's remember all that Jesus said and did --His message -- about forgiveness this Holy Week

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

References -


Unfortunately yesterday's Sunday Times Herald editorial, 3-29-15, and feature story on illiteracy, are not yet available online.

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