Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Entitlement taken to extremes
I tagged this article for a response last week, but haven't had a chance to post something until now. Our society has official reached the saturation point when it comes to entitlement. CNN.com tells us about a man who was approaching the social security pay-out age but could not find regular work to cover his day-to-day expenses. So what'd he do?

He robbed a bank.

Not so ridiculous in and of itself—people sometimes turn to crime when they're hard up for cash—but the story doesn't end there. You see, he had no intention of keeping the money. Once he had the cash in hand, he turned around and handed it to a guard:

On Wednesday, Timothy J. Bowers told a judge a three-year prison sentence would suit him, and the judge obliged.

"At my age, the jobs available to me are minimum-wage jobs. There is age discrimination out there," Bowers, who turns 63 in a few weeks, told Judge Angela White.

The judge told him: "It's unfortunate you feel this is the only way to deal with the situation."

Bowers said he had been able to find only odd jobs after the drug wholesaler he made deliveries for closed in 2003. He walked to a bank and handed a teller a note demanding cash in an envelope. The teller gave him four $20 bills and pushed a silent alarm.

Bowers handed the money to a security guard standing in the lobby and told him it was his day to be a hero.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, and a court-ordered psychological exam found him competent.
Now, let me start by saying that I'm sure he is competent. He's just an idiot and an asshole.

I'm not sure what the laws are that govern this situation (i.e. if there is a mandatory minimum sentence for attempted bank robbery or not), but it seems to me that this judge should not have granted him his wish. Or should have granted his wish with a "be careful what you wish for" sentence to one of those awful prisons we always hear about.

The justice and correctional systems are not there as a welfare program. And imagine the outcry if we followed this guy's example and started locking up the poor, destitute and homeless.

All that explains why I call him an asshole. But more fundamentally, he's an idiot.

Even with three square meals a day and a roof over his head, prison is not going to exactly be comfortable. And I disagree with the judge—it's not unfortunate that he felt this was the only way to survive until he hit the retirement age, it's idiotic. The guy's idea wasn't to, say, punch a cop. He didn't steal a car. He robbed a bank. And then returned the money.

Think about that. The guy is in such desperate need of money that he thinks prison is a step up from his current situation.

But he doesn't think to maybe ask for a little more than 80 bucks and try to get away with it? Worst-case scenario, he gets caught and receives the punishment he expected anyway. Best-case, he avoids jail time and survives until retirement. Why wouldn't you at least give it a shot?

But this guy couldn't figure that out. And still, the judge gave him his wish and granted him the right to be a leach on society.

Crimes of passion are considered a separate class of criminal behavior; it's times like this when I start to wish we had summary judgment for crimes of idiocy.