Close to the Edge, A Country Without Pity

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By David Glenn Cox

“Hollis Brown he lived on the outside of town
Hollis Brown he lived on the outside of town
With his wife and five children in a cabin broken down

You looked for work and money and you walked a ragged mile
You looked for work and money and you walked a ragged mile
Your children are so hungry that they don’t know how to smile

Your baby’s eyes look crazy they’re a-tuggin at your sleeve
Your baby’s eyes look crazy they’re a-tuggin at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why with every breath you breathe”

It
was a cold January day in Columbus, Ohio when Mark Meeks turned his gun
on his wife and then his two children and then himself. It was cold and
getting colder for Meeks.

“Meeks' brother said the family was
struggling to come to terms with the possibility that his older brother
-- a lifelong car buff and devoted family man who adored his wife and
children -- could be responsible for their deaths.”


During the
same week, in sunny Southern California Ervin Lupoe did likewise; he
murdered his wife and then his five children. He then waited in the
house with the bodies of his family around him for twelve hours before
turning the gun on himself.

“The rats have got your flour bad blood has got your mare
The rats have got your flour bad blood has got your mare
If there’s anyone who knows is there anyone who cares?

You prayed to the Lord above oh please send you a friend
You prayed to the Lord above oh please send you a friend
Your empty pockets tell you that you ain’t a-got no friend

Your babies are crying louder now it’s pounding in your brain
Your babies are crying louder now it’s pounding in your brain
Your wife’s screams are a stabbin you like a dirty drivin rain.”

Both
of the Lupoe parents had been fired from Kaiser Permanete Hospital in
West Los Angeles. The couple had been accused of forging a supervisor’s
signature and misrepresenting their income on documents provided to a
nonprofit agency that provides assistance for childcare. In addition,
the Lupoes were one month behind on their mortgage and a check for
$15,000 that Mr. Lupoe had written to the IRS had just bounced.

Mr.
Lupoe had made plans to take his family to Kansas City to start over
again with Mr. Lupoe’s brother-in-law. But something happened to push
Mr. Lupoe over the edge. In a letter Mr. Lupoe faxed to a local TV
station the morning of his death, he said that his hospital supervisor
had told him he "should not even have bothered to come to work" and
"should have blown (his) brains out."

“Your grass is turnin black there’s no water in your well
Your grass is turnin black there’s no water in your well
You spent your last lone dollar on seven shotgun shells

Way out in the wilderness a cold coyote calls
Way out in the wilderness a cold coyote calls
Your eyes fix on the shotgun that’s hangin on the wall

Your brain is a bleeding and your legs can’t seem to stand
Your brain is a bleeding and your legs can’t seem to stand
Your eyes fix on the shotgun that you’re a holding in your hand”

Investigators
interviewed the hospital administrator who said, “Lupoe's
characterization of their conversation was an out-of-context
misrepresentation” and she denied saying what Lupoe said she did.

Just
last month a thirteen-year-old Florida boy escaped as his father ran
through the house shooting at his family members. The boy ran through a
cluttered garage and made his escape as his father tripped over a
bicycle. The father, Troy Bellar, then returned to the front yard and
shot himself in the head. Investigators say that Mr. Bellar ran a
home-remodeling and handyman business.

In April tax attorney and
investment planner William Parente murdered his wife and children in a
Baltimore hotel room. He then arranged their bodies on the king-sized
bed and went into the bathroom where he cut himself and bled to death.
Parente is alleged to have had serious financial problems that are
under investigation by the FBI. Investment customers have complained
that Parente paid them with checks worth a quarter million dollars,
which have bounced.

“There’s seven breezes a-blowin all around the cabin door
There’s seven breezes a-blowin all around the cabin door
Seven shots ring out like the oceans pounding roar

There’s seven people dead on a South Dakota Farm
There’s seven people dead on a South Dakota Farm
Somewhere in the distance seven new people are born”

Yesterday
in Hillsboro, Oregon the body of James Gumm was found next to the
bodies of his seven-year-old son and six-year-old daughter in a nature
preserve. James Gumm was unemployed and divorced, and relatives told
detectives he had emotional problems linked to last year's divorce.

Should
I go on? Shall I relate more capitalist-inspired gore and collateral
damage? While researching these incidents I found many of the blogger
comments blame the victim. They were sick, they were animals. Only a
small minority understood that they were desperate, desperate men
pushed to the edge and then over it.

Our so-called social
safety net is non-existent; it is imaginary. Food stamps take weeks to
be approved and depend on last year’s income so most don’t qualify. Get
fired from your job in this economy with a bad reference and they might
as well shoot you themselves instead of firing you.

Your
government doesn’t care a whit about you! Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger if
these things matter as he attempts to end public health care in
California. Your government rejoices at the Chrysler and GM bankruptcy;
Wall Street soars on news that another thirty thousand union auto
workers will soon become unemployed and one hundred and fifty thousand
dealership employees will also get the ax. We have billions for banks
and billions more for corporations but nothing, not even pity, for the
employees who are dropped on the road like fecal matter.

We
discuss these issues in high tones of economic necessity and never let
basic humanity interfere in our quest for the perfect corporation. We
will not look at the human cost; we will blame the victims and mourn
for the poor little children. The children born with the sudden
misfortune of being American, living in the land of the comatose and
home of the brave. They must be brave for their so-called freedom is
actually their complete abandonment by a government that doesn’t care a
whit even about small children.

Politicians labor on with
bellicose debates in Congress about pork and stimulus and bridges to
nowhere or infrastructure improvement. Yet, when it is all said and
done, they move on and let the children suffer. They pass a stimulus
package too small to begin with while they complain that it was too
big. They smile for the cameras and slap each other’s backs in
congratulations when they haven’t accomplished anything at all.
Performing for the media show they ignore the true suffering which
should preclude all other activities.

A Conservative Democrat
once said, “Anyone who is honestly seeking a job and can't find it,
deserves the attention of the United States government, and the people.

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

“There
are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than
the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

And finally,

“The complacent, the self-indulgent, the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history.”

(John Fitzgerald Kennedy)

Or perhaps someday soon the guns will be pointed the other way.