Violence, old God and the minimum wage

The beleaguered FBI has been complaining recently in the press about the way the current government's emphasis on terrorism has affected its crime-fighting capacities.

Now, it's debatable how effective the FBI ever really was against domestic crime, even in its G-men days when they were led by that famous cross dresser Jedgar. And you can also make the argument that local gendarmes are almost holding their own in the fight against local crime.

Not long ago the FBI released its annual public-safety reports across the nation, and locally the news isn't as bad as elsewhere. In Seattle there were 4,152 violent crimes reported, up 43 from 2005's 4,109. Seattle's murders also climbed, from 25 to 30.

Just south of us, Tacoma reported 2,076 violent crimes and 21 murders, both slight rises like Seattle's.

Robbery, too, rose slightly in Seattle, while aggravated assaults showed a slight drop.

My old hometown, Cincinnati, which likes to pride itself on gentility, endured 70-plus homicides, even though Seattle is a bigger city. We aren't exactly home free, crimewise, and probably never will be, in a culture where it is easier to get firearms than to obtain a driver's license.

But given the amount of drugs and guns around, I think Seattle cops have a right to feel they aren't doing a bad job, especially when compared to their brethren-in-blue back East.

DOES IT EVER strike you as odd that in a culture always talking about God and justice and freedom, we suffer from an inordinate amount of violence, compared to more secular societies in Europe?

Jesus, the divine being most American politicians give verbal homage to, was a big anti-violence God-Man. He was forever advising his folks to turn the other cheek and to love their neighbors. One can't help but wonder what the Divine Ambassador for peace and humility thinks of a country where just last year gun violence killed 30,000 folks, including 33 at a time at Virginia Tech and seven (counting the shooter) in our own Capitol Hill.

"Would Jesus ban assault rifles in heaven?" is a question I have never heard that loud professor of certainty and faith, Georgie Bush, ask.

Also, in addition to being vehemently anti-gun (in spirit if not literally), Jesus was a big supporter of the poor, always advising those of us who were doing well to save some for the poor amongst us.

One can't help but wonder what Jesus thinks of a place where the gap between rich and poor, and the purposeful shrinkage of the middle class, the bulwark of America during its last-century heyday in the '40s and '50s, is an ongoing affair.

And what does J-Man think of a place where do-nothing executives wave the flag, praise His name and pay themselves as much in one day as they pay their workers for an entire year of toil?

And what might Jesus think of a country where one in six of His children has no health insurance, while other folks buy themselves multiple plastic surgeries?

I think I can guess what J-Man is saying up heaven way: "Listen to those self-ridden fools - haven't they heard that talk is cheap? Or that actions, not words, define a man (and woman)?"

FINALLY, the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that home health care aides are not entitled to the minimum wage or overtime pay, even if they work for a private employer rather than a nursing home concern. The vote of those well-fed, upper-middle-class folks was unanimous, 9 to 0.

It's a safe bet the Supreme Court justices all have health insurance, and a top-flight nursing home picked out for their own golden years.

The court has lumped home health care workers in with part-time babysitters. It's a great way to thank all those folks, predominantly women and minorities, who take care of us when our bodies and minds fail.

Under the rhetoric, the Supremes are saying, "Let 'em eat Mickey D's." And: "Aspirin is cheap."

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