Just say no to Amazon HQ2

Say no to Amazon HQ 2, sad amazon logo

Just say No to Amazon HQ2

If your city thinks it should offer incentives for Amazon to come to town, it’s time to reevaluate your leadership.

Sure, landing an HQ for a corporate behemoth is prestigious, and  can put any city on the map, but, to offer incentives to one of the richest companies in the world, that has been stealing from local coffers from its inception?

If you are looking at empty retail developments, a hollowed out downtown, declining sales tax receipts in the last 15 years- thank Amazon. It’s not that they did anything wrong, it’s that they did almost everything right- including putting pressure on every small business (the true job creators in America) to cut margins and compete on an uneven playing field.

An uneven playing field that is just made more uneven when our leaders are willing to bend over and offer their rear ends for a reaming with a smile. There is a reason Amazon has to make more room outside Seattle- they can’t afford to stay there. They’ve already driven the housing and office markets into the stratosphere, they’ve pushed the limits of infrastructure, they’ve caused more troubles than they’ve solved- all in the name of “winning” at the capitalist trough.

Don’t worry, they aren’t alone. We’ve seen it time and time again- as companies that don’t pay taxes like General Electric leverage their “job creation” into tax free offices in places like poverty stricken Dayton Ohio. Or watched companies like Boeing move their HQ from  Seattle to Chicago. NCR did the same to Dayton- and now their stock is worth less and their CEO makes more.

It’s not governments job to subsidize and coddle business- it’s governments job to provide a safe, healthy, clean, secure and well organized platform for communities to thrive. Business is only one part of that equation. It’s time to put a stop to corporate welfare.

What’s laughable is that despite not clicking on any of the boxes of Amazon’s dream list- Dayton thinks it should be in the running. This coming from a city manager who has repeatedly failed at “economic development” projects- the Wayne Avenue Kroger debacle, where years and millions of tax dollars went into actually devaluing a community, in order to lure a store that was supposed to come- however, she’d forgotten to get that in writing. On the other- the hole on Ludlow- City Manager Shelly Dickstein gave millions to developers who didn’t do anything but promise to do something- even stiffing the demolition company that ended up owning one of the historic gems of Downtown. And then she had the nerve to insist any developer of the vacant space which the city still owns- has to buy the demolition companies building as entry to the deal (how this isn’t illegal is beyond reason).

Let’s see- Dayton doesn’t have over a million people, it doesn’t have an airport with the connections, it’s lacking in quality education (no, you can’t move 50,000 people into the Oakwood School district), we don’t have a highly educated workforce ready to switch jobs (counting the base is laughable- many of those people have contracts with the US Government that aren’t really negotiable). The list goes on.

Only the Dayton Daily news would even write about this pipe dream without laughing. The New York Times did an analysis and came up with Denver, other smart publications have also done their filtering and come up with other communities- none in Ohio.

The attraction of jobs that pay six figures landing in your city with an income tax is mouth watering, however, the chances of landing them in a city with a 2.5% income tax on top of a state income tax is slim. Especially when Denver does it without any income tax.

At some point, Ohio needs to grow up and realize that allowing this state to be a ridiculous patchwork of local fiefdoms all trying to stay in power and support the friends and family plan of the Ohio Political Caste is keeping us from competing. You can’t have 28 jurisdictions in one county, and 88 counties in a state that’s losing population and clout at an alarming rate without thinking “we’re doing something wrong.”

Nationally, this country needs to just put an end to “economic development” incentives that support big companies over small ones, and make the playing field uneven and unfair. Did the residents of Georgia even get their $100 Million they invested to lure NCR there back, before NCR asked for another handout to move within the State? Doubtful.

If you read George Orwell’s “Animal farm”- this line should come to mind: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

The Narcan® roundabout

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo released by the East Liverpool Police Department, a young child sits in a vehicle behind his mother and a man, both of whom are unconscious from a drug overdose, in East Liverpool, Ohio. Drug overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio last year. AP Photo.

A small business I work with has had the Dayton Fire Department stop by almost every other day- because someone OD’d in their parking lot. The other day it was a city employee. The medics revealed that when they looked him up- they found out that he had been treated the day before as well. If a Narcan® revival was a frequent flyer bonus, we’d have people with miles to go to the moon and back.

Current practice is to revive them, offer treatment, which they refuse and let them go right back to using.

That would classify it as insanity- doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I wrote a post about Narcan, coincidentally, 2 years ago to the day: “Just say no to naloxone” I was chastised in comments. And in the two years, we’ve just seen massive increases in overdose deaths- turning Dayton into the Heroin epidemic epicenter of the nation.
Two friends of mine, who are former journalists (the real kind- no longer employed by the Dayton Daily news) went out on an assignment from a foreign publication to do a story about the heroin problem. Within 30 minutes, they’d taken a photo of a roadside sign offering treatment- and followed a DPD ambulance to an OD victim in a parking lot of the U-haul franchise. Photos, story- the works- easy peasy.
In my last piece I spelled out the societal costs of heroin and overdoses- and they still apply. The drain on resources puts your life in danger- while the paramedics are out dealing with a self-inflicted wound- you might have to wait for a ride while you are having a stroke or heart attack.
Save and release ain’t working.
It’s time to change the way we do things. The first time you qualify for a trip back from death, you are taken to clinic where you are held for four hours, where you have to watch a video explaining the new practices and procedures on Narcan- and given a chance to enroll in a treatment program, offering methadone, Suboxone, Naltrexone, Vivitrol etc.
You are also informed that the next time you need to be revived, you will spend 24 hours in the center. There will be round the clock counseling available, but, you won’t be receiving any medications that aren’t prescribed as part of a doctor supervised program.
Third visit, you’ll spend 3 days in the center. Fourth visit, a full week. Fifth visit, a month. At the end of the month, you will have an option to voluntarily stay in a highly supervised treatment program for up to a year, or walk.
Unfortunately, after the fifth visit, you will no longer be revived by safety personnel. If you are unidentifiable as a five time loser, and are being treated for the sixth time, you will face a mandatory 1 year mental health incarceration. This isn’t in a prison, but a secure treatment facility. There are no options for appeal, or release. If you are identifiable by the medics, treatment will not be administered.
Drivers licenses or state ID’s will be “punched” with each treatment- as reminders and for medical personnel to check.
Right now, we are kidding ourselves if we think we can arrest suppliers and take enough drugs off the street to solve the problem. All the posturing of law enforcement is an insult to our intelligence. Heroin addiction isn’t a criminal problem- it’s a mental health one. Yet it does cause massive increases in crime and threats to public safety.
What we can do is seize all assets of anyone caught with what we would identify as quantities to distribute- and use the proceeds to fund the treatment programs.
Of course, the other option is to stop kidding ourselves, and just start providing addicts with safe, inexpensive heroin and take the profit motive out- and give people who want to stay high permission- no judgements. This has been done in other countries and has cut crime and deaths considerably. There are people who are able to function in society while high- this is nothing new- my paternal grandfather was a PhD MD and a morphine addict his entire adult life.
If you have any better ideas, feel free to leave them in comments.
It’s time to stop the insanity cycle of save and release in Dayton Ohio- it’s not working.

I’m David Esrati, and I don’t approve this message

David Esrati portrait 2016

I took my own mug shot.

It’s happened a lot recently. Randomly, I’ve connected with someone who said “Aren’t you David Esrati, I read your blog.” Not necessarily read it every post, but, have read it. One of my hockey teammates even said it was helpful to him when he looked for “Where to get Baklava in Dayton

A very pretty, sweet woman walked up to me, and said she was touched by the piece I wrote in the Dayton Daily news about the Kettering Ice Rink. When I asked her name, she said she was nobody- and only gave her first name.

A conversation in Kroger yesterday turned to politics, and I was asked again- am I done running? Right now, I’m running a business, taking care of elderly parents and 5 pieces of real estate, and then there is this book I’m neglecting right now. I’ve yet to see a whole bunch of people show up and say they want to help me run. I also had to hear again about how our County Auditor thought it was OK to make me the punchline at the Dems’ big fundraiser. It didn’t sit well with some of the people who buy tickets to these things because they lobby- not necessarily agree with the party and its politburo of friends and family.

Others tell me, you need to stay out of politics. Retire the blog. Just concentrate on your business. Make money.

But, then the brilliant minds at Cox- owners of the newspaper, a TV station they call “the leader” and a bunch of radio stations- decide to can 27 people in copy editing- and hand it over to some farm team. I’m the son of a copy editor- and know how important it is that the people editing the people reporting the news actually know the city, the people, the players and even the pronunciations of street names, and if it’s a council or a commission- and if the mayor can vote or not on an issue. I guess their buy-one-give-away-five subscription plan failed to boost eyeballs- like everything else they do- other than give us better quality content- meaningful content.

This Tuesday is the most important primary I think I can ever remember in my lifetime, and could be one of the most pivotal in our country’s history. In a country where less than half the people vote- and less than half of those vote in primaries, we let a very few people chart our course, while we all bitch about the outcomes.

I get pissed when I get an email from the Montgomery County Democratic Party, of which I’m a member and on the central committee- telling me to vote for Hillary. I don’t recall a vote at any meeting where we decided whom to endorse.

You should get pissed too when people tell you who to vote for. But, you should get even more pissed when people just don’t vote. To think Nan Whaley was elected by such a small proportion of our population- is testament to how screwed up our system has become.

Everything I’ve done with the close to 2,500 posts I’ve published here- is to try to make people think, to engage, to make them more aware of what, who, and why our city is where it is today. Tuesday, you can do your part to set a course for our country’s future.

And, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. But, for me- the only two candidates I’m sure of are Bernie Sanders and PG Sittenfeld. I just wish I had other choices in other races- and knew that I wasn’t going to be one of a small number of people setting the course of this next election.

And, while I can think of other things to do, instead of writing this blog- I can’t imagine living in a city where the only source of news and insight is coming from one place run by imbeciles.

Love or hate me, I am my father’s son. He, with the master’s degree in Political Science- and the knack for language, and the many years of reporting real news, and teaching his son the importance of checks and balances provided by the “fourth estate.” Today, the old man turned 89, and he’ll still find something to fix in this post after I finish.

Happy birthday pops.

A warning to Dayton candidates about their signs

If you remember my position on political signage from the last commission campaign- where instead of signs- I put out trash cans, you know I’m laughing about this one.

Someone downtown is nervous about the battle of the signs- maybe because the endorsed candidates aren’t doing as good a job at mucking up the place.

This went out via email on the 14th (sorry- I’ve been super busy)

From: Owens, David <[email protected]>
Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Subject: Placement of Political Signage, City of Dayton
To: Colette Moorman, Mia Spells, Darryl Fairchild, Chris Shaw, Scott Sliver, John McManus, Nancy Nearny, Sheila Taylor, Robert Walker
Cc: “Landon, Dave” <[email protected]>

Dear Candidate:

Please see the attached information on the placement of political signage in the City of Dayton, and please pass this information along to your campaigns.

Thank You,

 

David Owens

Montgomery County Board of Elections

Campaign Finance

451 West Third St.

Dayton, OH 45481

Office: (937) 225-5669|Fax: (937) 496-7798

www.mcboe.org | [email protected]

Here is the copy from the PDF (that I had to make accessible):

SUBJECT: Placement of Political Signage
As we move into the height of the election season please be advised of the following with respect to
the placement of political signage within the City of Dayton:
• Under the Zoning Ordinance (R.C.G.O. Chapter 150), political signs are permissible
“temporary signs” for placement on private property, with the property owner’s consent.
• All signs should be placed in a manner which maintains traffic visibility at all times.
• Political signs are strictly prohibited from placement within the public right-of-way. Those
which remain in the right-of-way may be subject to removal.
• All signs should be promptly removed on November 4th.

Note- they didn’t send a notice to Matt Joseph…. hmmmmm. His signs are all over the public rights of way too. They also neglected to write the Sinclair people- or the state issue people.

 

What can be done to help guide urban youth?

The “brilliant people” who think that this is rocket science- really don’t get it. This is the preamble and a few excerpts from the beginning of a  panel discussion in the DDn today.

Editor’s note: Teens acting out, pushing the envelope, is nothing new. Yet, when large groups come together to cause trouble at citywide events, as has occurred several times in downtown Dayton in the last year, it affects not just the youth and their families, but the city as a whole. Our partners at Dayton.com asked what can be done to build a more cohesive relationship with our city’s future citizens, ensuring a safe environment for all. The conversation Dayton.com staffers Vivienne Machi and Kamron Taylor had with four community activists touched upon issues relevant not just in Dayton, but in any community….

Brian LaDuca: If the problem is student/teen behavior as it relates (to) downtown, then I see the problem simply being a lack of well lit, invigorating communal spaces. Skate parks, music shells, dynamic store front designs (not necessarily actual stores).

Marlon Shackelford: The 5 percent of teens who are miseducated and misguided are guiding and educating the 95 percent that are bored, have idle time, are angry, and who are looking for something to do. There’s a lack of mentors and “womentors,” and a lack of efficient programs for teens.

Jonetta White: …We can no longer have this “hands-off” approach to being a community. Adults should feel responsible for ensuring the well being of their children and for the children of the community. It takes a community to raise a child, and adults cannot be afraid to step up in the lives of young people who may not have any other positive, adult influences.

Catherine Crosby: It impacts the attractiveness of the City overall. It impacts our ability to recruit companies and families to move into the City because it creates a perception that the City is unsafe.

Source: What can be done to help guide urban youth? | www.mydaytondailynews.com

I’m sorry- I’ve been to every park in this city. Every school yard. For the last three years, I’ve hung about 500 green basketball nets. I’ve cleared basketball courts of weeds and debris. This year, I am also running a social soccer program in my neighborhood. Today, we couldn’t play. You know why?

The city of Dayton can't cut their own grass.

The grass is taller than a full size soccer ball at Burns Jackson Park

The grass at Burns Jackson park was taller than a full size soccer ball this morning. The field had also been run over by several cars- since the cable fence is broken. This isn’t rocket science. When I moved to this neighborhood we had 2 basketball courts- now we’re waiting on them to refinish 1. We had playable tennis courts. People used to play softball all the time in the park- now you can’t see a mound, baselines and weeds are higher than the benches.

The city is about to spend a half a million on the old Society Bank/Third National building- despite it’s appraisal at $350K- and 2 other private bidders. They have no stated public use or public plan for the building. They have yet to do anything with any of the other 3 half-million dollar buildings they over paid for. They have money to buy other peoples property- but they can’t take care of their own.

Drive by Delco Park in Kettering anytime. All the soccer fields are well groomed, properly graded and have soccer goals. Look at the ball parks- full of people every night. Kids, adults. Dayton- nope. Can’t play soccer on a Sunday morning because Fred Stoval and company can’t cut the grass.

So, try as you might to do something with “urban youth”- good luck. After I started showing photos of the sorry condition of all of our basketball courts in my last run for City Commission- the city was guilted into spending a million bucks doing long overdue repair and replacement of courts across the city. Maybe by September they will finish the remaining basketball court in South Park- maybe not.

A city that can’t do basic maintenance has no business being in charge of anything. You want a community that people can be proud of? Learn to cut your grass.

 

How to piss people off- a Pecha Kucha presentation by David Esrati

I love Pecha Kucha. 20 slides, 20 seconds each, to tell a story, make a point, entertain, make people think.

The format is to force people to distill their ideas to something manageable- concise, and worth your time. Not a long essay, not a tweet- but something that just works.

Back in March, at Dayton’s Vol 22, I was honored to be one of the speakers- the one just before the beer break. That’s right- driving people to drink.

My subject- “How to piss people off” – it really helps to do a PK about something you know inside and out.

And for those of you who didn’t make it to that epic event- here’s something to give you a good laugh or two before the weekend.

The video- note- a few off-color words are contained if you are at work.

Dayton’s Inspectional Services called out by the DBJ

The Dayton Business Journal has a cover story about Dayton’s woefully inept Building Inspection department- something that’s been inept for a long time. Olivia Barrow talks to several small independent start-ups that ran face first into the wall of BS that Dayton likes to throw at every project that doesn’t come with political payola.

From the DBJ article-

Michael Cromartie, chief building inspector, wants to see Dayton thrive as much as anyone. But working with his 1999 computer system and a skeleton crew bound to enforce state building codes to the letter, he has a natural tendency to prefer businesses with money.

“If they’re undercapitalized, that’s always a challenge,” he said. “We have walked some people through every step of the process. But can I do that with everybody? No.”

Cromartie said while he can’t design a project for a business, he still wants to meet with prospective business owners as early as possible — before they even sign a lease or buy a building….

Somewhere inside the mammoth tome of regulations that is the Ohio Building Code, there’s a chapter created for existing buildings that violate today’s safety and accessibility standards — Article 34. It’s often cited as a way for entrepreneurs to save money building out a space in one of downtown’s charming, but code-delinquent historic buildings.

But Juhl never even had the chance to get his building evaluated through Article 34.

“The city won’t even look at that chapter unless you build a case around it,” he said. “It would have been a pain in the butt. So instead we brought a 130-year-old building up to 2011 code.”

Article 34 has been used successfully on several projects in Dayton — including Square One Salon & Spa, Warped Wing Brewing Co. and The Barrel House — but those projects were well-funded or advised by experienced architects or business owners.

“It’s virtually impossible for a business owner to use Chapter 34 (without an architect),” said Brock Taylor, development specialist for the city.

The regulation allows a building to be evaluated on a point system that includes trade-offs and substitutions between some of the most expensive elements of bringing a building up to code.

That includes leaving out a sprinkler system in favor of a cheaper alarm system, or reducing the intended occupancy in order to avoid other costly regulations.

But ultimately, even an Article 34 review process can end up being a waste of time, Cromartie said.

“Sometimes you do the investigation and realize it’s not even going to save you any money,” he said.

That chapter of the code becomes another factor that slants the playing field toward well-capitalized, investor-backed ventures….

A technological upgrade is also in order, but it won’t come online until January of 2016.

“The city is investing over $1 million in replacing its obsolete permitting software,” Cromartie said.

And the city is also creating a new staff position that could provide some of the relief business owners are looking for.

via COVER STORY: ?Business friendly? A skeleton crew at the city struggles to help first-time business owners – Dayton Business Journal.

Michael Cromartie has picked up some knowledge from his years on the job- or should I say his reign of terror. His claim as one of the Monarchy of Montgomery County is being married to former Mayor James H. McGee’s daughter, former judge Francis McGee.

I ran into the same BS over 27 years ago when I bought a building ready for the wrecking ball. Not only were there issues with the historic district code, there were zoning issues and then the building inspection issues. When you have a building that someone is willing to invest 30x the purchase price- it would have been nice for a little common sense, but that wasn’t the case. Despite having 4 exit doors with windows in them- and huge storefront windows- the geniuses insisted that we needed the lighted “Exit” signs over a door. You know the ones required by code for hallways in multistory buildings- that have a bunch of solid- similar doors- where there is no way of telling which one leads out.
I came to believe that the building code as enforced by Dayton was the antidote to Darwin (i.e.- protecting morons from extinction).

I’m pretty sure a firefighter is going to argue with me on another point- the one requiring sprinklers. I’m placing a bet that sprinklers malfunction and do more damage than actually work and put out fires- but, Dayton seems hell bent on keeping the sprinkler installers in business. I find it amazing that most of Europe where buildings are over 600 years old- survived without sprinklers.

I know many contractors that refuse to work in Dayton due to the incredible amount of BS that this department manages to spew. I was told that my existing roof- in the back of my house with true 2×6, 14′ rafters on a slight pitch were undersized- and needed to go- despite being original- and decked with 5/4″ planks. I told the inspector to pound salt. That wasn’t what he was there to inspect. On my cottages they tried to claim that faced insulation, that was stapled and seams taped wasn’t a proper vapor barrier- and that we had to remove the facing- and use plastic instead. Except that you couldn’t buy unfaced insulation anywhere. Yet another fail.

If you wonder why houses get torn down instead of rehabbed in Dayton- it’s because to do them legally is too much hassle, and to do them illegally isn’t worth the headaches- plus, the demolition companies pay to get our commission elected.

The reality is that the Ohio building code isn’t written for rehab. It’s written by the construction lobby with one goal in mind- build new instead of rehab. When enforced by megalomaniacs like Cromartie, the public isn’t any safer, and our old buildings fall victim to unreasonable requirements. Is a two-hour fire rating between floors of a 100-year-old building that’s built with old growth timber really going to make a difference compared to having working alarms? Are sprinklers in every unit of a residential conversion really more important than fire extinguishers? When it comes to ADA- does every unit in a residential rental building have to meet ADA requirements or just a majority?

Instead of  “investing” a million in new permitting software, why don’t we just shut down the entire department and let the county do it? In the name of regionalism and setting an example of cooperation like we did with 911?

I’m sure it would do more to hasten renovation and investment back in the city than letting King Cromartie continue his reign of terror on “under-capitalized”  entrepreneurs (i.e.- no money to pay them off).

Big brother stopped watching you yesterday

Traffic cam

UPDATE

March 23, 5PM A Lucas county judge ruled in favor of Home rule, and the City will continue using the cameras and ticketing until this winds through the courts.

On March 1st 2015(correction, March 23rd) the city of Dayton lost one of its crutches- the use of red light and speeding cameras to extort owners of vehicles for the misdeeds of individual drivers.

The cameras, supplied by a private company, Redflex, were a “partnership” where a private company made unlimited amounts of money from this questionable impingement on personal freedoms. Had the city bought the cameras outright, like they do most pieces of law enforcement equipment, this deal may not have reeked so badly, but in the ultimate act of brilliance, your leaders chose a questionable deal. Much like private prisons, where the incentives are to keep people locked up – because more convicts mean more money, the cameras were continuously questioned for their accuracy and the timing of lights suspect as contributors to this scam.

The sad thing is, the cameras worked. Speeds dropped, accidents declined, in the areas where the cameras were in place.

The real question is why people came to drive like idiots in the city of Dayton and other places where the cameras were deployed? No one speeds in Oakwood, and Kettering still has a rap for traffic enforcement. These communities run traffic tickets as a way to show their police departments are out watching and waiting for crime to happen- versus Dayton, where all they do is chase the tail having to go out reactively  all day long.

Maybe if our leaders would spend more of that “economic development” cash they hand out like candy to their political supporters and scam artists promising jobs- and just did the job they were supposed to do- ensuring our safety, the cameras wouldn’t have been a last resort. In the 29 years I’ve lived in Dayton, I’ve watched the police department drop in staffing by at least a third. Of course, the size of our city hasn’t gotten any smaller geographically- but, we’ve also seen almost a quarter of our population vote with their feet to move to other parts of Montgomery County where they feel safer.

In all the time the cameras have been installed in Dayton, I’ve never gotten a ticket so this hasn’t affected me directly, but, I did get one in Kettering- for a supposed right turn on red at Dorothy Lane and Wilmington. The difference being- one was handed out by a cop, who said he saw me do it. And while I know so many of you are happy about the end of the cameras- in my one ticket, I would have preferred the camera- because I would have had proof that I did the crime.

Hopefully, Dayton police will learn to write tickets again, because, well- that’s their job. Don’t be surprised if you get one and costs you more, because real police work costs more than a robot cop camera. If Redflex goes out of business, I won’t be crying. They made ungodly money out of their monopoly deal on cameras. The question is, how long the city leaders will leave the cameras and signs up- even if the cameras are now impotent.

Sometimes just the idea that we’re being watched, makes us behave differently.

Would Dayton pass the Ferguson test?

This is a hypothetical post. I don’t know the answers. But I think a lot of people in Dayton would tell you unequivocally that Dayton would fail a fairness test if the Feds came in and did an audit of arrests, prosecutions, stops, tickets, fines and enforcement patterns.

Considering that the writing is all over the walls, a mostly white safety force; despite Federal intervention long ago, proven redlining of loans, a completely failed “racial integration” of schools. Throw in the recent outing of members of the Sheriff’s department for racially unacceptable texts and it would be easy to guess what a federal investigation of Dayton would find.

Arguments have been made that the traffic cameras were mostly placed in poor communities, and even then, more in areas predominately African American. If you look at the county jail, most of the time, its racial composition doesn’t come close to reflecting the local racial makeup.

But this is America- where we stubbornly believe in ideals that weren’t ideal when they were written (“all men are created equal- yet slavery wasn’t abolished for another century and civil rights came another 100 years later). Somehow, despite incredible evidence to the contrary- we still believe we’re a first world country, a leader, while our own people suffer from unconscionable oppressions.

Our costs of health care are the highest in the world, our cost of an advanced education are skyrocketing, and while we have access to cheap food, much of it isn’t really fit for consumption. Our elections are rigged with “corporations are people too” money, and less than half the people vote- meaning our vaunted “democracy” is really only a majority of the minority’s beliefs.

I read about freedoms that are constitutionally guaranteed that are being questioned or abused almost daily. We arm ourselves against an illogical threat, and kill more of our own with our own guns- and yet think we’re safer with them than without them. We incarcerate more people, with an astoundingly disproportionate number of the inmates a “minority” and yet, still claim ourselves a “free country” and have the audacity to think our “model” is best for others.

We spend more than half the planet on “defense” which is mostly used as offense, in places that we don’t understand, but feel the need to meddle.

And while the justice department tries to clean house in Ferguson, in reality, it’s nothing but a sideshow- a distraction, a sleight of hand, because in the grand scheme of things, we’ve not been a land of opportunity for a long time.

We could have the Feds come here and apply their tests, and we could fail, but in the end, it won’t change anything until we fundamentally reexamine the kind of country we have and the kind of country we deserve. I don’t fault the racists in Ferguson, or the grandstanding of the Feds, I fault Americans for assuming that things can’t change, that this is acceptable, and holding on to a ridiculous pride in a country that deserves an F grade in equality and justice.

Making an example out of Ferguson, won’t fix anything.

We’ve got systemic issues, from top to bottom that need to be addressed.

If we want to be truly great, we need to take a step back and rethink everything.