Why would someone rob a bank for $1?

If there was any doubt about just how far out of whack our healthcare system is in the US, look no further.

This story featured on Reader Supported News, originally featured in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, details James Verone and the most unusual of bank robberies. James robbed a bank for $1, just to get arrested so he could be seen by a doctor. (He was charged with “stealing from a person”, not actual bank robbery, as the prosecutors think they couldn’t make the latter charge stick.)

The former Coca-Cola delivery man of 17 years was unfortunately let go by the beverage conglomerate (the article does not say how long ago), and lost his health insurance along with his job.

You’ll notice I’m referring to James by his first name, which ordinarily means by convention he’s one of the “good guys.” It is a bit difficult for me to take side with a bank robber. However, in this case, it’s not about the money; it’s about things one cannot reasonably be expected to quantify with an amount of money: self-preservation, health, and dignity. On one hand, I applaud James’s ingenity and resolve. At the same time, I’m saddened and horrified that anyone should feel they have to do something like this to be able to see a doctor.

In countries with sane healthcare systems, this simply does not happen. This is the strongest argument in favor of healthcare reform I have seen to date. Even if we get it wrong, even if Obamacare turns out to be a disaster of a different sort, it’s still an attempt to fix the problem. And there is no doubt in my mind that there is a problem.

To those against healthcare reform as it stands: if Obamacare is not the answer, what is? How much longer are we going to let insurance companies set the price of healthcare, getting great group deals for their policyholders and setting up people like James to be hung out to dry?

Two badge-heavy cops plus one mentally handicapped teen…

…equals an outrage waiting to happen.

My faith in and respect for law enforcement does increase, slowly, over time. But, it decreases rapidly right back to near-zero when stories like this one from Infowars involving a mentally handicapped teen get brought to my attention.

From the article:

Dayton police tasered, pepper-sprayed and beat a mentally handicapped teen [Jesse Kersey] and then charged him with assault. What did the disabled boy do to deserve this onslaught? The police officer [Officer Willie Hooper] “mistook” his speech impediment for a sign of “disrespect”.

As mentioned in this Courthouse News Service article, all charges against Jesse were dismissed. However, Officer Hooper, and another officer, John Howard, are named as co-defendants in a civil suit brought against the city by Jesse’s mother, Pamela Ford, for many torts including false arrest, assualt, battery, and civil conspiracy.

It’s bad enough when a mentally handicapped person is the victim of police brutality, as in this case. However, to be beaten up by the cops and then charged with assault on top of that? I can’t imagine what these maniacs with badges were thinking.

I’m glad the criminal court judge presiding over the case aganist Jesse had some sense. So in a rather rare move for this blog, I will commend the judge (unnamed in either the Infowars post or the Courthouse News Service story) for an excellent job of dispensing justice, by dismissing the obviously trumped-up charges against Jesse. I’m hoping the judge and jury responsible for the civil suit against the city of Dayton, Ohio, have the same good sense of justice.

I’m also hoping that Officers Hooper and Howard, and any other officers responsible for the initial incident unnamed by the sources linked above, find a new career completely removed from law enforcement. If we’re going to throw the book at common citizens who commit egregious acts of assault and false arrest, we need to do the same to cops who overstep their authority.