Being a natural skinflint, I don't like to throw things away while there's life left in them. My ancestors and I were willing to pay more for quality whenever possible. As a result, many of my kids' toys are as old or older than I am - why replace what's not broken?
It's quite the different world that's revealed in children's books from decades gone by. In reality, those days were far more dangerous thanks to disease and accident; but the books of those times portray an expectation that people aren't the threat, and that anyone in authority truly does have your best interests at heart. The pages teem with friendly policemen, caring firemen, even - my, how the world has changed! - hard-working postal workers.
Then I return to the modern world, where the Constitution is a scrap of paper and all too many of "them" really are out to get you. We've written over the years about how the police can simply confiscate your cash with no need to prove a crime. The predations of the TSA are familiar to us all, and every week brings a new revelation about how the Justice Department forced American gun dealers to sell automatic weapons to known Mexican criminals, ostensibly to track the flow of guns to druglords but more likely to create pressure for yet more onerous gun control regulations.
Still, though, most Americans figure that as long as they stay away from guns and don't carry around much cash, the police will leave them alone. In one of the most horrifying examples to the contrary of which we've yet heard, Raquel Nelson found out the opposite.
Nelson was convicted of failure to use a crosswalk, reckless conduct and second-degree vehicular homicide. On Tuesday, she stood in court, initially facing the possibility of 36 months in jail.
For what? Attempting to usher her children across a busy highway late at night instead of dragging them three-tenths of a mile away to a crosswalk. For watching her 4-year-old son, A.J., get run down by a drunk driver’s speeding car. The driver, Jerry L. Guy, served six months.
Now, let's be clear: crossing a busy highway on foot, at night, with small children, is not exactly smart. As all parents know, however, dragging small kids a half-mile to use a crosswalk isn't a very good alternative either.
Ms. Nelson was faced with two miserable paths. The one she picked led to the death of her toddler. Does that make her a criminal?
In the eyes of the government, apparently it does. She's not the only one to suffer this fate:
On Nov. 17, 2008, a mother crossed South Cobb Drive outside a crosswalk with four children in tow. A driver struck and killed the woman’s 4-year-old daughter. The driver wasn’t charged but -- in an unusual prosecution -- the mother was. Altamesa Walker of Marietta is scheduled to face trial on involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct charges later this month.
“I don’t know why in this particular case they chose to charge her,” said Victor Reynolds, Walker’s lawyer. “To some extent it’s compounding a tragedy. This lady lost a child, literally. She was holding her hand when the vehicle struck.”
Cobb County Solicitor Barry Morgan said he couldn’t discuss details of the case before the trial, but, he said, “There are rules about where you cross the street, and you want to make sure people follow the rules so tragic things don’t happen.” [emphasis added]
There is the problem: it is not the government's job to protect us from the consequences of our own free decisions! It is the government's job to protect us from other people's decisions perhaps, but not our own. A country which won't allow you to make decisions that your betters think are imprudent cannot be called free in any sense of the word.
If there exists in this land not one but at least two separate prosecutors and two separate judges who were able to live with themselves while convicting a grieving mother of the crime of not using the crosswalk, it's no surprise we have a president who thinks law-abiding gun owners should be convicted of felonies if a criminal steals their gun and uses it in a crime.
Our heart goes out to Ms. Nelson for the loss of her child; we are relieved to hear that she was let off with 12 months probation. Would that we could get free of Big Brother so easily!
One thing is becoming more and more clear - the government is not your friend. The government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.