Kitten Killer Josh Barro

Kitten Killer Josh Barro

New York Needs a Mayor With the Resolve to Let the Subway Kittens Die

The next mayor of New York, if he or she is to do a good job, will have to say “no” a lot. “No” to public employee unions who want a retroactive raise the city can’t afford. “No” to city councilmembers who will try to spend every tax dollar that comes in instead of rebuilding the city’s reserve funds. “No” to NIMBYs who don’t want anything new built in their neighborhoods. “No” to commuters seeking relief from fare increases, bridge tolls, parking fines, and an alleged “war on cars.”

Now, I will note that as far as I know, Josh Barro has not personally killed any kittens. He merely advocates that others do it, a candidate for major in particular, pointing out the “real New Yorkers” don’t care about this. I have had the pleasure of meeting New Yorkers and those have I met strike me as a compassionate and worthy lot. Perhaps he meets a different group.

Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New YorkNew York does not need a mayor with the “resolve” to kill kittens. New York is not yet a business theocracy where order is preferred over the democratic rabble. Those kitten lovers, those unions, those neighborhoods are constituents in a democracy. They have a voice. They deserve that voice. They participate in society. They pay taxes and obey the laws. That they don’t meet the standards of Josh Baro is not a legitimate reason to disenfranchise or ignore them.

There is a certain implication here that killing kittens, ignoring unions and overruling local populations is a matter of courage. I often hear that acting in defiance of the wishes of those that elected you, for instance, cutting medicare and social security, is a matter of resolve and courage. No, it’s a matter of acting anti-democratically. It’s a matter of denying necessary benefits long proven successful because it disempowers millions of Americans and making them subject to the whims of our “betters.”

We can safely assume that the title of the article is meant to be provocative. I’ll buy that. But I think he means it. And I have seen a number of kitten hating blogs take up the cry and I find this depressing. There is a place for compassion and kindness and I believe that what “real New Yorkers” believe is far more varied than Josh Barro’s friends in the business community.

How can we have business ethics if we live in a country where order and profits (saving time by running over kittens with subway trains) trump moral and compassionate concerns? We might as well fold up our ethics tents and drift away in the night.

I have seen a good number of ethics professors and textbooks explain that business ethics is actually profitable. Businesses that practice ethics have greater customer trust and loyalty, and over time this and other ethics practices produce profits. I don’t doubt this for a moment but it misses the point of ethics. We do it not because it is profitable but because it is right. We do it because we want to live with some sense of purpose beyond counting our money and giggling like Bond villains.

Ruthlessness and profits above all other values are popular right now with the one percent. That you and I are not wealthy is a sign of our unworthiness. But we in the middle class, who do the work, who sacrifice for our values, and who do the jobs of fireman, teaching and policeman are the heart of the nation, the ones that make this country work. I have nothing but pride for being one of those citizens.

James Pilant

 

 

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Prosecutors Enabling Debt Collector Misconduct

Adam Levin: The Alarming Ties Between Debt Collectors and District Attorneys

Consider what’s happening here. The debt collection companies are using the letterhead of the prosecutor’s office to threaten consumers with criminal prosecution and possible jail time. In reality, they’re in no position to back that threat up — but from reading the letter, the consumer has no way to know that. The truth is that in the vast majority of cases, the prosecutor’s office has no idea when these letters are mailed or who is receiving them, and has conducted no investigation to determine whether the claim of unpaid debt is actually true. Thus, the debt collectors are apparently mailing official letters without effective oversight — and often without even having the evidence they would need to prove that the recipients actually owe the alleged debts. In short, no case.

“I would say that roughly 90 percent of the credit card lawsuits are flawed and can’t prove the person owes the debt,” Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn who sees up to 100 such cases a day, told the New York Times.

This is, indeed, outrageous. To have prosecuting attorneys renting out their letterhead to private companies at all diminishes their office and, at the end of the day, betrays the public trust. To do this without weighing the merits of each individual case betrays the fundamental American ideal of due process and turns the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” on its head. Finally, to allow private companies to use the power and prestige of public office to coerce consumers, using the fear of criminal charges and imprisonment to bully them into compliance — well, that is so clearly abusive that it’s hard to imagine how anyone could defend it (not that they haven’t tried).

Adam Levin: The Alarming Ties Between Debt Collectors and District Attorneys

Debt collectors have a terrible reputation in this country for misconduct and often direct law breaking. For prosecutors to form an alliance with them, loaning them some of the powers of the state, is simply unconscionable.

I’m not the only one that thinks so – here’s J.F. Quackenbush from the web site, Disinformation:

So here’s the deal, it’s a crime to write a bad check if you know that the bank isn’t going to honor the instrument. But in most states, in order to be convicted the State has to prove that you knew the check was going to bounce when you wrote it. That’s hard which is as it should be, because the crime here is not owing a debt, it’s fraud. We don’t do debtors prisons anymore, and for good reason. Bankruptcy law is explicitly mandated by the Constitution because it has long been understood that not all debts are equal, and sometimes it’s for the best in our society if we just let people off the hook and give them a clean financial slate to start over.

This, of course, drives the vampires of the collection industry, who make money by buying debts for pennies on the dollar and then brutalizing the people who owe those debts who can’t afford to pay them, and in the meantime making all manner of threats and coercive promises to keep those debtors out of bankruptcy so that the vampires can continue to feed.

And here are some more thoughts on the subject from Caveot Emptor, Seeking Justice for Consumers

Prosecutors’ job is to enforce the law. One important part of that job is exercising some discretion over who to prosecute. That’s especially important in bad check cases. People bounce checks all the time, usually unintentionally. That doesn’t make them crimes. So a prosecutor’s job is to sort out the crimes from the accidents. Under the new arrangement, everybody gets contacted by a debt collector, which then demands even more money for a budgeting class — the profit from which goes into the collector’s pocket.

Here are some thoughts from Naked Capitalism

The excuse for this program is that district attorneys’ offices were overwhelmed with merchant requests to go after bounced checks where they were unable to collect the debt and alleged fraud. Um, what about saying “no” unless the amount at issue was significant, say at least a few hundred dollars, or having the merchant provide evidence of intent? Instead, this scheme allows the debt collectors to get a windfall from people who’ve stuffed up on relatively small checks (the two examples in the article were each under $100) as well as contributing to erosion of public faith in the legal system.

Consumer attorneys did succeed in getting one debt collector that engaged in this practice, American Corrective Counseling Services, to file for Chapter 11 in the face of class action suits. But its successor CorrectiveSolutions carries on with the same dubious practices and has “partnerships” with more than 140 district attorneys’ offices.

And here is a comment from Tech Dirt
The DAs office, it appears, is literally selling the use of their stationary. In exchange for letting debt collectors appear both a lot more official and for falsely suggesting that law enforcement is pursuing criminal action, the debt collectors “sell” a “financial accountability” class, from which some of the proceeds get kicked back to the DAs’ offices.
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Lessons from the Brooklyn Groper – Falsifying Crime Reports – Salon.com

This story talks about an obvious sexual assault with multiple witnesses and a video of the incident which the police have tried very hard to ignore.

They don’t want to investigate it because it will throw off their successful record of reduced rapes. The numbers are more than important than actually doing police work.

It is appalling: another police department manipulating crime data by falsifying their crime reports.  You would have thought the seriousness of that kind of manipulation in Puerto Rico would have caused other departments to become cautious but apparently not.

When crime reports are little more than a collection of self serving lies, the crime statistics they generate are meaningless nonsense.

But that nonsense has serious consequences.

It’s major factor in budget allocations. If there are few rapes reported than there is less money for that kind of enforcement and police will be diverted to other duties. The city may provide few rape kits and counseling for victims.

The media is, of course, influenced by this train of events. Salutory articles delineating the new wonderful statistics of falling numbers of rapes are published. The major and police are praised as conquering heroes. The only problem is that the rapists can operate with less impediment, their victims will multiply and the victims’ chances of any justice become more and more remote.

James Pilant

Lessons from the “Brooklyn Groper” – Violence Against Women – Salon.com

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