Monday, June 27, 2011

Youth Gangs Terrorize from Peoria to Philadelphia – the Impact of the Economy crosses Socio-Economic Lines - Opinion

Workfare under FDR, from the blog "They were teaching us to work"

So called “gangs” of teens and pre-teens have been forming in larger urban areas for the express purpose of harassing neighbors and robbing large chain stores – all in recent weeks. An article from Peoria.comspeaks to a group of 50 African-American youths who walked through a Peoria neighborhood, threatening residents- the report, read in a “Dramatic Reading” You-Tube video suggests that the police informed neighbors to stay inside, with only one officer responding. The Peoria Journal Star however, suggests that the allegations of these youths threatening to “kill whites” was exaggerated, because several individuals in this “racially” diverse neighborhood did not “hear” any such language. However, the excerpt that follows suggests, at the least, a threat:

Kenny Rogers, who has lived on Sheridan for 10 years, called police Friday after he saw the group "hollering" and stopping traffic on the street. He did not hear anyone yell that they wanted to kill white people.
Rogers says the crowd was running wildly around yards and porches. It was the largest Rogers, 38, had ever seen in the neighborhood.
"They were doing a show of force," he said, "to show everybody, 'Hey, this is their hood.'"

In Delaware, a group of approximately 40 youth ranging in age from 11 upwards, boarded trains from Philadelphia, arriving in Delaware with the express purpose of robbing a local Sears in Upper Darby, DE Dubbed a “flash mob”, by the press, the fact that these teens planned and executed a robbery, makes this more criminal than a mere “flash mob”.
More on Incident here at Delco Times With video below:

Meanwhile, back in Illinois, Chicago youth gang violence continued with a “teen mob” robbing a Walgreens drugstore.
As most of the violence began in Chicago, a reporter for the Sun Times suggests using sports programs as a way to keep these teens off the street and otherwise engaged, preventing large “gangs” congregating, planning and executing robberies.

The fact of the matter is that as the economy continues to struggle, those hit the hardest by the dwindling dollar, are those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. With the “misery index” (a combination of the unemployment rate and inflation), hitting a 26 year high, lower and middle class families are feeling the squeeze: paychecks, or government assistant checks/or cards, simply do not go as far when it comes to items such as food and clothing. Therefore there is little left over for families and those who are used to purchasing top of the line items in clothing and electronics, find that there simply is no money left to pay for “extras”.

Youth Programs also cost money, taxpayers, dollars, which, with the high unemployment rate, states find that their revenue to pay for programs of any sort are steadily decreasing. The “entitlement” mentality of most of today’s youth, regardless of socio-economic class, race or ethnicity, coupled with a general acceptance of violence (be it from music, videos or parental malaise) somehow translates into a “right” of the mob to rob large chain stores, and or claim neighborhoods as their own.

Sports programs are fine, but one needs sneakers to participate, and those new sneakers may be hard to come by after funds are depleted paying for food and basics.
During the Carter Administration, when the term “misery index” was coined, those in the middle and lower income brackets, did not take to the streets to rob and pillage, rather, there was an element of crime that was more reminiscent of “Robin Hood” than violence “in the hood”. With elderly, especially in poor urban areas, literally buying tinned cat food for dinner due to the high costs of meat, younger people would steal meat from grocery stores, and either give or sell it to those in the urban areas. This from a perspective of one who had lived in a 4th floor walk-up in an urban area in Western Massachusetts and had seen the aforementioned take place until the economy righted. The fact that the attitude was more “help my neighbor” (granted through criminal behavior) rather than, “help myself”, speaks volumes about the “entitlement” society in which we live, and the lack of basic values that exists today.

The fact that these incidents are currently taking place in African American communities, does not mean it will not spread to include neighborhoods that are more mixed – the element would be the economy plus “the world owes me a living” mentality of today’s pre-teens and teens.

What’s the fix?

Repercussions noted before the fact: If one thought that participating in grand larceny (that is what these store robberies are technically), would land them in a juvenile detention facility until they were eighteen (one that was complete with education reminiscent of the same facilities in the 1950’s, 1960’s), one could bet the house that more than one would hesitate.

Blaming the music, the lack of family structure, and any specific race or ethnic background is ludicrous, rather, it is the government itself, coupled with the public school system, one promising largesse for simply being, and the other demanding little of the student body in either discipline or educational achievement for that matter, being more interested in ensuring their benefits, and salary at par, and that above all the district and teachers avoid lawsuits from parents who might take offence at one too many detentions or suspensions.

Instituting rules within the school system, and insuring that these rules are followed, that students are kept busy with academic “homework” would go further over time, than taking a back seat and watching chaos from the “cheap seats”. In addition, the Federal Government, might, in lieu of handing out entitlements, from unemployment insurance to welfare, institute FDR style “workfare” until the nation rights itself. With little money for governments to hire a workforce to clean and maintain the nations parks, this might be another solution to both cut down on this behavior, as well as instill a work ethic in a generation that apparently has none.
As the economy continues to remain stagnant, should no fear of repercussions continue, and respect for authority not be brought to bear, should the government (state and federal) not be able to meet “entitlement program obligations” due to the fact that the nation is basically broke, one can expect more of the same from this generation and communities both urban and suburban might anticipate more of these “flash mobs”. Destruction of private property or worse? Unfortunately if something is not done soon, there will be the occasion where a “flash mob” strikes the wrong suburban store, and meets the wrong security guards, with the end result of loss of life. What then? It is up to a combination of parents, the government who has bred the “attitude” which exists, though both entitlement programs as well as the public school system; to right the wrong it has done to generations. This nation allows for any one of any race, creed, or ethnic background to become productive, the goal should be each generation building more, learning more than the last, what has taken place under the auspices of political opportunity (for that is exactly what this is), is criminal and has created these criminals, instead of upstanding citizens of this great nation.

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