Pubdate: Tue, 20 Apr 2004
Source: Delaware County Daily Times (PA)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Times
Author: John Paul Curran


To the Times:

On March 5, a black man from Chester, Mr. Bob Johnson, wrote to you
with a most perceptive letter to the editor. It was directed to the
tragedy of black and Hispanic crime, but had a positive approach to
reach the root of crime with planned action by the people. He was
critical of emotional talk and promises from politicians, some of whom
seek only to be re-elected or even from some religious leaders seeking
to remain in charge of a congregation. But what action can be effective?

If one visits other areas of the country, particularly the South, the
criminal faces are not the usual black ones seen on TV night after
night in our area, but rather are criminal faces of whites. The
crimes, however, are the same; that is shootings, robbery, murder,
rape and muggings on the streets, among others. So, at the heart of
our problem is not color, it is poverty. Poverty then couples with
lack of education, lack of parenting responsibility and lack of some
value system, which might be called religion, or if looked at another
way, an unselfish life lived for others.

Let's be specific. A child in a poor neighborhood should, at the very
least, be safe. Playing outside of one's home is fun, but in certain
areas, like North Philadelphia and Chester, a shootout could cause the
death of that innocent child, who is sacred and should be protected.
Yes, all children are sacred. What causes the shootout? Drugs. Why do
people take drugs? Hopelessness. Healing means starting with hope --
then food, shelter, family, safety, education and job training.

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he
eats for a lifetime.

We are bankrupting our economic system and endangering our
law-enforcement people trying to track down drug importation, drug
manufacture, drug distribution and drug use. Then we incur the cost of
the court system and the huge expense of imprisonment and the wasted
lives that go with it. This involves the loss of not millions, but
billions of dollars, which could be diverted to places where it is
needed like homeland security, housing, education and simple things
like fixing potholes, reducing traffic congestion with better
planning, more effective 911 usage and better emergency room care.

I have three proposals:

First, we must encourage stronger family values, with two parents at
home who work with our dedicated school teachers as a team, not as
adversaries. By unifying there is a far better chance to produce
educated, wholesome, caring and better-adjusted young people.

Second, and most controversial, is to legalize drug use under strict
controls of the private pharmacy industry stimulated by the profit
motive, coupled with the power of government to enforce the new
system. Money will be readily available from the savings created by
drug-legalization. The drug lords will not be happy, nor will South
American graft-takers. Addicts are not criminals; they are sick and
should be treated as such.

Third, develop job training in both skilled and non-skilled areas. As
for incentive, I propose reverse tuition. Pay the pupil to attend
class. Yes, another radical idea, but it would work.

Stop being satisfied with minimum wage. Apply for a better job because
you are better trained. Teach a person to repair an aircraft or
automobile engine and a job will be available for your lifetime.

Crime would be reduced because the need to commit crime would be
reduced by controlling drugs, educating our poorer citizens with
practical training and encouraging family values.

Start at the ballot box.

John Paul Curran

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