The Humboldt Edge

Education, economics & quality of life

by Gary Mack
“A non-profit administrator responded as if I should accept mediocre health care from a clinic because it was the only show in town willing to accept Medi-Cal.”
Upon considering the meaning of news and opinions published since December in Humboldt’s printed media, a statement author James Bryce made in “The American Commonwealth” came to mind: “The government of cities is the one conspicuous failure of the United States.” Mr. Bryce passed away 92 years ago, but in some ways his observation still has relevance today in 2014.

Whether local, national, urban or rural, contemporary news periodicals apparently say most Americans have been experiencing, in varying degrees, a decreased quality of life. Some say a spiritual crisis is also occurring.

For example, after Rev. Eric Freed was murdered last winter (by a non-homeless person) a former Humboldt resident submitted a letter to the Times-Standard editor saying, based on her personal experiences she didn’t believe the county’s police and mental health departments “got it” when it comes to controlling and reducing crime or providing measurable help to drug abusers and the mentally ill. She concluded: “The inmates are running the asylum in Eureka.”

Then when examining Eureka’s crime and its sources, newly recruited EPD Chief Andrew Mills said an “underground, outlaw culture” likely contributes to this area’s crime problems. (Feb. 7 North Coast Journal) This outlaw culture may also contribute to the school bullying discussed in the NC Journal’s “Unequal Opportunities” (Jan. 7). It’s as if along with quality of life, a socially subversive part of our population is incapable of appreciating “quality of character” is also vital when it comes to evolving ourselves into a safer, sounder, more just and accountable community.

The Humboldt Edge’s Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014 issue contained a letter advocating for improved health care and police/investigative services in the county. “G.R.” wrote that after his brother had been assaulted the EPD failed to take a report and ignored or overlooked crucial evidence related to the incident. G.R. further explained his brother was taken to Semper Virens as a “5150” (i.e.: a possible threat to himself or others). But after being held for 24 hours the SV staff “was satisfied that he didn’t have any mental illness.”

Among G.R.’s intelligent assertions, state and county policymakers should especially consider his question; Are Humboldt’s police “using psychiatric holds to arrest homeless (or low income) people whom they cannot arrest for any other reason?” (Note: Local policing problems may be exacerbated by what the Nation Magazine recently called “‘federalizing’ local police agencies.”) Moreover, whether physicians, counselors or office support staff, do health care providers ever deliver substandard service to patients they have deemed politically incorrect? Two reasons I inquire is due to being duped 25 years ago (i.e.: when I was a young naive adult) by a politically manipulative family therapist, and more recently a non-profit administrator responded as if I should accept mediocre health care from a clinic because it was the only show in town willing to accept Medi-Cal. Perhaps in Humboldt the Hippocratic Oath no longer exists or it only applies to the wealthy?

During a CNN interview arranged in Hong Kong six months ago, former NSA data analyst Edward Snowden stated, “By manipulating data the NSA is capable of reducing any citizen to nothing.” (This could explain occasional tampering I’ve experienced for about 8 years with a few business and accounting activities, or erroneous info appearing in my healthcare and legal records.) Though it’s refreshing to read “Snowden’s leaks are already propelling good legislative action (in ‘Amnesty for Snowden’ Feb. 10th The Nation),” a 5-year-old could tell us unwarranted invasion of privacy contradicts what America is all about.

How shameful it is if our leaders are unwittingly allowing the U.S. to become a country where eugenics is routinely practiced. Or a place where the judicial system’s punishment of political tyrants and white collar or thug criminals usually doesn’t prevent them from committing further crimes.

Therefore, if we can persuade ourselves and our politicians and corporate leaders to become more law-abiding, it will do wonders for both our urban and rural quality of life.

For those desiring to reduce neighborhood blight and American culture’s “dumbing-down,” DA Paul Gallegos’ assertion that “Investing in and reforming our educational system is a vital task worth our undertaking, because research shows a strong correlation between lack of education and criminality” is well worth listening to (Feb. 6th NCJournal).

In conclusion, when considering the life quality for “we the ninety-nine percent,” the effects of globalization, and the civil regulation of capitalism, please consider this passage from writer John Dos Passos’ “The Big Money,” published in 1936 during the Depression: “America our nation has been beaten by strangers who have bought the laws and fenced off the meadows and cut down the woods for pulp and turned our pleasant cities into slums and sweated the wealth out of our people, and when they want to they hire the executioner to throw the switch.”

Do you think this is the type of nation and economic system our founders hoped to establish? I believe America is capable of so much more.


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