Michael_Jackson_Talk_Radio Monday, September 21, 2009 Michael_Jackson_Talk_RadioMichael_Jackson_Talk_Radio

Michael_Jackson_Talk_Radiocapitalhere are times when the simple pictures and a few attached words drawn and printed by a cartoonist can tell a serious story very succinctly and effectively. Most of the cartoonists with whom I've spoken over the decades have generally told me that the fewer the words the better. Jules Ffeifer was an exception to that rule, writing large quantities of words to make his points. My overall favorite was the Los Angeles Times cartoonist, Paul Conrad, known simply as "Conrad". His work over the past years has held up astonishingly well. That didn't mean that I always agreed with his point of view, but he always made me think and frequently elicited a laugh. Fewer and fewer newspapers have their own cartoonists these days.

Joe Heller in the Green Bay Press-Gazette had a good cartoon today. It is six pictures of a puzzled character looking at newspapers over the past years since 2005. The headline of the first 'paper reads "More troops to Iraq". Our forlorn figure says "What are we doing in Iraq? The 9/11 terrorists are in Afghanistan.

Second picture, dated 2006; headline "More troops to Iraq". He asks himself "What are we doing in Iraq? Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan".

2007 same guy reads the headline "More troops in Iraq". He inquires "What are we doing in Iraq. Al Qaida is in Afghanistan.

The year 2008 and the newspaper banner headline says "More troops to Iraq". The fellow's response "What are we doing in Iraq? The Taliban is in Afghanistan". Our cartoon character stares at the 2009 headline "More troops to Afghanistan". He says nothing, and then the final picture. The paper headlines "More troops to Afghanistan" and he asks "What are we doing in Afghanistan".

Thank you Joe Heller.

Where, when and what next?

Michael_Jackson_Talk_Radiocapitalo you ever concern yourself about the number of United States citizens who are in jails and prisons? Nationally, one quarter of inmates are serving time for drug offenses. With only 5% of the world's population we have easily 25% of the prisoners. Borrowing a line from the Virginia Democrat, Senator Jim Webb, "either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States, or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice". Today, two-thirds of those who get out of prison will be back behind bars within three years.

How many Americans are in prison? The latest figure, 2.3 million and rising. Beyond that figure a further 5.1 million are on probation. Over the past quarter century the prison population has almost tripled. Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world; we even surpass China and Russia.

I think that a large percentage of our lawmakers subscribe to the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" approach.

For starters we must reduce the number of low-level offenders behind bars so that we can focus shrinking resources on the hardened criminals. The cost per year of housing an inmate is approaching $30,000.

There's much more to the subject for discussion and action, and as Brown University Glenn Loury described it, "The current American prison system is a leviathan unmatched in human history".

Our prisons are becoming powder-kegs.

By contrast, here we are well over a year into the most disastrous financial crisis since the Great Depression; millions of Americans have lost their homes, their retirement savings and more, so how is it that we've not seen Wall Street tycoons compelled to swap their multi-million dollar jobs for prison stripes. To date no captain of finance tied directly to the crisis has ended up behind bars. So many of those directly responsible for the crisis have become exceedingly rich. Yes, Bernard Madoff is to be in prison for the rest of his life (and beyond), but to-date no captain of finance directly involved in the meltdown has received his just reward in a state penitentiary..That night be corrected, eventually, as the FBI has, currently, almost 600 large scale corporate investigations underway.

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