Looking out: All over the world

Issue 

All over the world

Simon Paglia is a volunteer with Saint Vincent de Paul's night patrol in Sydney, which distributes sustenance to the city's homeless. One of these homeless souls belongs to Gerald Franklin. He likes to go about the city bare of feet and shirtless in the chilling wind and rain. Sometimes he also likes to expose himself completely naked to unsuspecting passers-by.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald (May 1, 1993), Simon says, "Gerald's always got something different to say. He's very intelligent but in the last two or three months he's changed and the stories have become more unusual. Last time he was God the Father and his girlfriend was God the Mother."

Franklin's behaviour unconsciously begs for psychiatric attention. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know he needs help.

A New York City weekly newspaper, The Village Voice (May 11, 1993), reported that Jeffrey Rose, a homeless man, became so angry that he pushed a man through a glass showcase at a delicatessen. A few days later Rose was seen throwing an object through the plate glass window of a First Avenue shop. The Voice also reports, "In March, Rose attempted to have himself committed to Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric clinic where, according to the hospital's chief executive officer Pamela Brier, he was observed overnight, prescribed the antipsychotic drug Haldol, and released".

Clearly, Rose literally begged for psychiatric attention. Alas, he could not get it in a timely fashion.

On April 10, Rose grabbed a 22-month old toddler from the arms of his mother, and began running down the street with the child, while stabbing him repeatedly in the face and head with an ink pen. Needless to say, Rose is now getting more than his share of attention, albeit a bit late.

While Franklin and Rose are citizens of two

different continents, they could easily be neighbours subsisting on the same street. Local governments all over the world have been forced into drastic budget cuts in order to reduce spending. The spiel from self-serving politicians to their constituents is the "no more tax" fairy tale; and, like beguiled children who have been offered candy, they vote those politicians in.

column = Government is nothing if it does not provide protection and adequate services for its citizens via their tax dollars. The misguided perception that a government can continue to function effectively with less or misdirected dollars is at best a childish fantasy.

Here is one more example. In the United States earlier this year, several children died from food poisoning after eating tainted hamburger meat. Why did they die? Because the sanitation and quality control standards of meat purveyors are subject to little or no inspection by the appropriate agencies in the US.

The tax dollars that the upper and middle class citizenry of this world avoid paying create a potentially fatal risk to every citizen.

My question is: how much is a human life worth in tax dollars?
[The writer is a prisoner on death row in the United States. He is happy to receive letters commenting on his columns. He can be written to at: Brandon Astor Jones, EF-122216, G2-51, GD&CC, PO Box 3877, Jackson, GA 30233, USA.]