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March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday Headlines

 I still have one Sunday paper delivered (the SF Chronicle) and read another online (the NY Times). Today, both carried items reflecting the way the popular culture in this country has been influenced by our drug war; although the linkages may not be clear to many without a short explanation.

 The Times gave more emphasis to a report on the growing life expectancy gap between rich and poor. At the extremes, a white female born into an affluent family can now expect to live almost fifteen years longer than a black male born into poverty.  As a recently retired surgeon, I’m very aware of the impact of modern medical interventions on life expectancy, particularly for those who can afford health insurance, so the only real surprise here was dismay at the degree of difference measured; and the speed with which the gap seems to be increasing. The drug war connection is well known: blacks don’t use illegal drugs as much as whites, but are punished more severely when caught.

 The story given more emphasis in the Chronicle was also of more local interest: former SLA member Sara Jane Olson was literally yanked back to prison after a mysterious recalculation of her sentence and parole disclosed that she’d served one year less than she should have. As someone who has lived in the Bay Area since 1967 and followed the unlikely events Olson became caught up in as a youthful member of the counterculture, I was even more dismayed by the gleeful stupidity manifested by a majority of those readers moved to comment. It wasn’t so much their point of view that I found discouraging; it was that such unrestrained malevolence would be encountered in the “liberal” Bay Area.

 But then we ARE nation presided over by Dubya for the past eight years and we still have more interest in NASCAR racing than in concepts as nebulous as energy conservation and the fate of the species. In any event, our global incarceration lead seems safe for a while...
Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 23, 2008 09:06 PM