Hallows Coming – Byron

Our Hallows stories remind again, warnings to callous men unwary, mother Earth’s grace tested will run short unleashing untold fury.

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I - Nemo font_halloween had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,
And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguish’d with a crash—and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil’d;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and look’d up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash’d their teeth and howl’d: the wild birds shriek’d
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl’d
And twin’d themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour’d,
Even dogs assail’d their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish’d men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lur’d their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answer’d not with a caress—he died.
The crowd was famish’d by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap’d a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they rak’d up,
And shivering scrap’d with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other’s aspects—saw, and shriek’d, and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir’d before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

Lord Byron, Darkness

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Halloween breaker

happy halloween

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Black Underworld Inc. – Conclusion

Since the 1900 U.S. Presidential campaign and election the Red, White, and Blue stars and stripes firmly became the offspring of the colonial Imperialist family of powerful nations that were Belgium, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Sweden. After the victory of the Spanish-American War (Part I) it cemented our ‘divine right to prosperity and exploitation‘ of weaker people and put us at the same carnivorous dinning table as the other nine juggernaut nations. With the Monroe Doctrine enforced and the Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico acquired from a defeated Spain, hungry insatiable American mercantilism then set out to “civilize and industrialize” Central and South America for the next two centuries (Part II) with very minimal to no investment back into local infrastructure or economies of those Latino countries.

Two hundred years of exploiting Central, Caribbean, and South American resources without significant reinvestment into those cultures saw the U.S. father and nurture the current Pan-American immigration crisis (Part III) which in turn fathered and nurtured our illegal domestic Grey and Black Underworld markets done primarily by American business owners/contractors and corporations. These two underworld markets—the white-collar grey market and the criminal black market—have sprouted a most inhumane insidious 14-tentacle monster of which I examined briefly five specific, toxic, anti-social markets (Part IV). In this final fifth part, with thousands and millions of Latinos fleeing their homeland and the U.S. created immigration crisis in Central America, why would these legal and illegal Latinos want to risk their lives, enter, and work for shitty wages in the United States when here in the American nightmare (not dream) there is an obnoxious, rising, threatening socioeconomic inequality and homeless problem for those very people? Is this simply transference of crises from one spot to another?

History has shown repeatedly that these are the very sociopolitical conditions that set in motion civil unrest and revolution. Was it not ironically the exact same despair the Latinos are fleeing in their homelands and more ironically, unless you are a Native American descendant, what most of our own ancestors in the 18th and 19th century escaped from in Europe to start a better, freer life in the United States? Bizarre? History repeating itself? A classic Euro-Asian socioeconomic stratification simply redressed then brought across the Atlantic Ocean.

Primary Causes of America’s Homeless/Housing Problem

Through mechanisms such as scapegoat contracting by American business owners, suppression of state minimum compensatory wages, skyrocketing tuition for trade-school, under and post-grad degrees, the persistent climb of housing and rent, all stimulate a corporate grey market followed by the criminal black market. The latter two markets exploit the chronic desperation of the struggling bottom percent of society. From Bloomberg Businessweek:

A toxic combination of slow wage growth and skyrocketing rents has put housing out of reach for a greater number of people.

The reason the situation has gotten worse is simple enough to understand, even if it defies easy solution: A toxic combo of slow wage growth and skyrocketing rents has put housing out of reach for a greater number of people. According to Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored housing giant, the portion of rental units affordable to low earners plummeted 62 percent from 2010 to 2016.

Rising housing costs don’t predestine people to homelessness. But without the right interventions, the connection can become malignant.

President Ronald Reagan dubiously argued that homelessness was a lifestyle choice. By the mid-2000’s, though, the federal government was taking a more productive approach. George W. Bush’s administration pushed for a “housing first” model that prioritized getting people permanent shelter before helping them with drug addiction or mental illness. Barack Obama furthered the effort in his first term and, in 2010, vowed to end chronic and veteran homelessness in five years and child and family homelessness by 2020.

Rising housing costs are part of the reason some of those deadlines were missed. The Trump administration’s proposal to hike rents on people receiving federal housing vouchers, and require they work, would only make the goals more elusive. Demand for rental assistance has long outstripped supply, leading to years-long waits for people who want help. But even folks who are lucky enough to have vouchers are increasingly struggling to use them in hot housing markets. A survey by the Urban Institute this year found that more than three-quarters of L.A. landlords rejected tenants receiving rental assistance. […]

Then there’s the moral argument for action. “It’s outrageous to me that in a country with so much wealth—and certainly enough for everybody—that there are people who lack even the basics for survival,” says Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. […]

But efforts to build are often delayed or blocked by people who don’t want homeless or lower-income people nearby. A strong undercurrent of Nimbyism—motivated by fear of falling property values, ignorance, racism, or concern over crime—can get nasty. Opponents of proposed homeless shelters took to the streets to protest in Koreatown and spewed boos and catcalls at a town hall in the beach community of Venice. (emphasis mine)

The poignant article goes on to say that doing nothing isn’t doing nothing.” Doing nothing ends up costing everyone more money, more resources from law-enforcement, and drains an already strained, under-funded public mental-health and drug rehab system but continually feeds its (very profitable) prison system. Blaming those who are trying to get their feet back under themselves, back above water, is in fact the least productive way to solve the crisis. The fact that the U.S. is and has been the wealthiest, most capable nation on the planet to fix these 20, 50, or 100-year chronic socioeconomic problems is not just mind-boggling, but shamefully embarrassing.

Examining four indicators of U.S. income per capita, Kimberly Amadeo of TheBalance.com reports:

Fewer than 30 percent of American adults have more education than their parents. As a result, economic mobility has worsened.

According to Zillow.com’s home value/price index, as of May 14, 2019, the median home value/price was $226,700 for an average 2,687 sq ft home. This however, is not the listing price. And the majority of American home-building corporations, for some not-so-mysterious reasons, construct single family homes around 2,500 sq ft—it’s more safely profitable for them and their lending corporations. To determine what it is state-by-state go here.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest numbers for median income per capita can be found here, but nationally as of 2017 it is just below $32,000 per year for legal U.S. citizens. Most loan-financing/home mortgage lenders require that applicants for a 30-year house mortgage earn between $58,200 to $64,400 minimum gross household income annually. However, this amount and interest-rate (5%) reflect an applicant(s) near excellent credit score(s). A large percentage of lower middle-class and lower-class Americans that have been living paycheck to paycheck (approx. 70% – 79.3% of the population) do not have excellent or even above-average credit ratings for such decent mortgages. This leads us to renting costs in America.

According again to Zillow.com’s indices, the median list-price rent index as of March 2019 in the U.S. was $1,675 monthly, or for a 12-month lease $20,100 annually. But here’s the catch. Most all private-sector leasing-management corporations require the renter(s) to earn 2- or 3-times that rental amount in net wages. Therefore, $1,675 jumps to either $3,350 to $5,025 monthly, or $40,200 to $60,300 annually. If some renters are on the cusp of their leasing requirements, then housing managers demand a hefty upfront deposit which ends up disqualifying many/most applicants living paycheck to paycheck.

We are back to reality, our chronic homeless dilemma and crisis as the wealthiest nation in the world.

America’s Chronic Homeless Problem Provides More Exploitation

The 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress provided by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), reports that between 2016 and 2018 that instead of the downward trend since 2012, homeless and unsheltered numbers rose across the nation by 10% (p. 13, Exhibit 1.1). They are expected to continue rising under current unchanged socioeconomic and political conditions. However, this can be slowed or stopped in two to four years if changes are made in those same influencing factors, reversed and returned to pre-2016 trends in six years with significant changes.

2018_12_20_Forbes_Homeless_People

My hometown of Dallas, TX is not listed in these 10 worst cities, however, as the state’s largest metroplex and one of the nation’s largest metropolises it has its serious homeless problems too. Our Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance reports to-date Dallas and Collin Counties (the latter is one of the wealthiest counties in Texas) have risen by 9% since 2016 with a 16% increase in Emergency-Sheltered homelessness. As mentioned at the end of Part III, I have three personal stories to share from homeless individuals within 1-mile of my home.

Homeless-faces

Faces of our homeless

Three Dallas Voices of Homelessness

One of my first impressions after briefly speaking with these homeless, sometimes just loitering before moving down the street, is that homelessness is not represented by one gender or one particular race. That’s one false notion those far removed from the struggle have of these unfortunate situations. The other impression I found which wasn’t much of a surprise to me were their backgrounds and stories.

The majority I spoke with came from situations of unstable families while children and/or teenagers. With one man I spoke with he had been abandoned by his biological dad and step-mother at the age of thirteen. For all the others I spoke with their backgrounds were all too familiar. Drug abuse and dealing, alcohol use and abuse, and often the two dysfunctions were accompanied by physical and sexual abuse/assaults.

Every single person I spoke to with drug, alcohol, and sexual/physical abuse histories had indeed been in rehab treatment programs, several times, but without the financial means to even complete a 30-day, much less 60-day program, facilities could not keep them more than 10-12 days. Some could only detox for three days and had to be discharged. And those facilities are the state- and federal-supported programs, not the highly expensive private clinics and hospitals with adequately staffed premier doctors, nurses, and counselors. Regarding those nice private hospitals, one homeless gentleman told me those are the places and beds for the best insurance policies or rich parent’s kids. I knew exactly what he meant. Mom and myself dealt with the same difficulties and oddities with my own sister the last 40-years. Still do. My sister has been homeless and living on the streets many times in her life.

Ricki
Originally from Ardmore, a small town in Oklahoma, Ricki was about 30-35 and when we talked on a partly cloudy, sunny day she had left a downtown shelter that had been overcrowded and her bed was infested with bed-bugs. She showed me her waist and stomach covered in bites and welts. I asked her how long she’s been homeless, since I was 19. Did you finish school, I asked. No, because my momma was alcoholic, unmarried and I got tired of the abusive men that came and went. Ricki had moved out as a teenager with no high school diploma to escape one or two domestic problems to take her chances on different bigger problems. Her older sister had done the same about three years earlier than she and not faring any better. Her sister has been in and out of homeless shelters and alcohol-drug rehab houses in Little Rock, AR.

Ricki was also manic depressive and recently diagnosed (inside a low-cost county hospital) with Type 1 diabetes. Most of the time she can’t afford both meds, sometimes neither of them. Her combination of emotional and medical problems—most likely other secondary psychological issues I’m assuming too—meant one med without the other kept her in constant volatility with one or the other for all these years. This was my guess anyway. The low-wage jobs I was able to find and keep for a month or two, she explained the supervisor didn’t have any patience with my mistakes and knew nothing about mental-illness. This was one primary cause for Ricki’s chronic homelessness for 11-12 years.

When I asked her if there was one wish she could have granted for the next 6-12 months, what would it be? She answered, If they would just give us some place to go where we wouldn’t get run off every other night, or after a week or two, that would work for me to get on my feet. She had a point. If you have to keep worrying about your next meal(s) and where you will sleep for the night or next week, it makes it much more difficult to be reliable for a boss at a low-paying job. I thought it pointless, probably an insult to ask if she had means of transportation to get to and from a job.

Adam or “Addie”
Addie is a 34-year old male originally from Georgia, but recently from Mississippi, which was what struck up our first conversation. A military brat/kid, he moved around many times; four times before he was age twelve. In Mississippi was where the U.S. Marine Corp. recruiter talked him into enlisting, told him he would see the world and become a new man. During boot camp in San Diego, CA, Adam was smoking weed with other recruits, but he was the one busted and made the example to his recruit-class.

He moved back in with his dad in Mississippi, but being former military himself his dad soon kicked him out. I tried for a couple of months living with an aunt in Ohio, he shared but she had too many strict rules. Many friends-with-couches later and only a diploma, Addie eventually ended up in DFW, sometimes in a shelter, other times on the streets.

Everything has a long line at shelters that often takes an hour or two to stand in, and sometimes you don’t get what you wait for. Beds are often infested because they’re not regularly sanitized. Roaches everywhere getting into your stuff. The staff-workers have their favorites and don’t treat everyone equally. And temporary affordable housing for us takes a long, long time to obtain. Why? It’s non-existent or too expensive in DFW. I want to work, hold down a job, but it all seems like a Catch-22.

Bouts of alcoholism have crept into Adam’s hard times. When I saw him last he was considering drifting up toward Kansas City for the summer (cooler temps) if he was put off again or kept on the housing waiting list at two shelters a fifth time.

Walter

Walt inside the library

Walter
Walt is a former truck-rig driver from Ft. Worth, TX. He is about 47 – 50 years old, I’m guessing, and due to his high blood pressure from being severely overweight—he says from always being on the road/highway living in his rear cab for 330-days out of the year—lost his CDL (commercial driver’s license) because of those medical problems. In our conversation Walt exhibited several signs of depressive disorders so I asked if he has ever been seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Yes. Once right after I got out of prison and then through my caseworker at the shelter. I asked him what they said. That I needed both counseling [psychotherapy] and regular anti-depressant meds for at least two years. Of course I asked how that was going. I can’t afford it after a week or two. Walter said it had been over a year since he has done any counseling or had meds. When I asked about family his entire affect changed. He started talking about his mother and father, in broken mumbled sentences, but then had to stop. He had no idea how they were or where they were—his mom disappeared when he was little. The last time Walt saw his dad was 1984 and of all places… Richardson, TX, just 10-minutes away.

I asked Walt that other than truck-driving, once he reacquired his CDL, has he been able to find work:

For the last two years I’ve been trying to get into a program for housing for the displaced. After you stand in line for your caseworker for hours, you are usually told it is pending or I’ve been told I don’t fit their requirements. At most shelters you must stand in line by 2:00pm to secure a bed. If you get to your caseworker by 4:30pm, you have much less time to walk everywhere seeking a low-wage job. But sometimes you have to choose between a bed for the night or a possible job you’ve already applied for months earlier. Because I don’t have semi-permanent housing I can’t clean-up and dress to look my best at any job interview. [he gave a half chuckle]

Though not all homeless cases are mental-illness related, America’s public mental-health, mental-illness infrastructure and operation is for the most part only one fragile cog in our nation’s dysfunctional three-cog public services. The second cog is our Homeless-to-Housing cog. It fluctuates greatly and is rarely the same from year-to-year or elections-to-elections. The third cog is thriving and over the last 2-3 decades has become profitably fatprisons.

US Social Services

Should you want to view the other 94 – 95 U.S. companies clearing profits from county and state corrections facility services, click here. The grossly disproportionate social needs wheel above begs the question, What is the real priority for American businesses and their government constituents? Then ask yourself why can’t housing projects, and state/county mental-health programs keep up with a noticeably smaller (yet fast growing) percentage of the population? Any bets whether you are back to the first question of priorities?

There is another alarming ripple-effect of the U.S. corporate grey market and black underworld/market destabilizing the nation’s struggling middle-class and sinking lower-class:  a falling life-expectancy. Neurosurgeon and Emmy-winning CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, hosted a special HBO documentary called One Nation Under Stress and examined the reasons for the historic decline in life-expectancy inside the world’s wealthiest country who ironically has spent the most on healthcare by any developed nation around the globe.

If you are unable to watch or stream the HBO documentary, here is a 25-min overview of Dr. Gupta’s findings. He reveals the multiple causes all pointing to one single epidemic:  the chronic, prolonged levels of abnormal stress. I highly recommend watching this documentary and sharing it with family and friends. If you don’t have anyone close suffering from long-term stress and its many side effects, then watch it as an introductory briefing so you might recognize the many symptoms and one day help a stranger or acquaintance.

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Now that this five part series is concluded and covered the entire historical spectrum from 1900 across the North, Central, South Americas and Caribbean, to recent and present-day criminal and corrupt back-office, domestic businesses, to the end product of an ill, decaying middle and lower socioeconomic class in the U.S., share your thoughts or questions below. I hope this series and the discussions will cause you to ask yourself, What more can I do? Then inspire to act.

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Black Underworld Inc. – Part IV

Well, after a few breaks from my inundated, unavoidable family and life obligations and the time-effort they required, I have finally finished and posted Part IV! Thank you for your patience and understanding these last four months.

Previously in Part III we learned that the higher and wider the gap of inequality in the United States, the more extreme, converse abuses and crimes its population will engage and endure. America’s corporate world dabbles in, even thrives off of this inequality and distress and often yields to the temptations of the more profitable grey market which is never far removed from the black market—in several cases the two are indistinguishable. In this Part IV I want to burrow into five of at least fourteen specific markets or tentacles that comprise the insatiable beast called BU Inc.

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Illegal Gambling & Games
The sole reason illegal gambling and gaming take place in the U.S. or by way of the U.S. is its highly lucrative profits without any taxation. Each year, it is estimated that casinos and sports-books in Nevada pay $868.6 million in taxes says Casino.org an online casino guide website. Imagine if those gambling-gaming houses could keep that money. The combined illegal gambling-gaming market is reportedly a $67 – $380-billion dollar industry, a tax free industry. Too many American citizens and businesses, whether law-abiding or not, seem to not want to pay taxes or their legitimate fair share of taxes. Why?

There are perhaps four generally popular, risky or life-threatening gambling-gaming activities in the U.S. Street racing packs high-speed, oil, carbon-monoxide and rubber for an adrenaline high and big money for winning crews and driver. Though illegal high-stakes racing is on the rise across the nation, Southern California is the epicenter. There is typically a race or races every night. If caught, drivers can sit in jail for up to 90-days; a small price to pay (in their minds) given the huge rewards of winning, upwards of $20,000+ in some big races. Reaching 100 MPH in about 6-seconds then over 130+ MPH in longer races, they do it for street respect and a winner-takes-all prize. But it can be at the expense of pedestrian bystanders and other non-participating drivers caught in the middle of chance “takeover” races they were oblivious to. Only a small group of drivers and fans know about the when and where of races. Injured or killed pedestrians are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. For more, read Out of Control by the L.A. Times.

Cock-fighting and dog-fighting in the U.S. have become lucrative illegal games of gambling the last 25-years. The ASPCA states in their A Closer Look at Dog Fighting report Why Do People Get Involved with Dog-fighting:

There are many reasons people are drawn to dog-fighting. The most basic is greed. Major dogfight raids have resulted in seizures of more than $500,000, and it is not unusual for $20,000 – $30,000 to change hands in a single fight. Stud fees and the sale of pups from promising bloodlines can also bring in thousands of dollars. […]

For others, the appeal simply seems to come from the sadistic enjoyment of a brutal spectacle.

seized cash from illegal gambling

Cash confiscated from an illegal gambling ring in Nashville, Tennessee. (Source: wsmv.com)

Today elaborate and extensive breeding techniques for hostile/killer animal bloodlines with very basic, crude genetic education has turned cock- and dog-fighting into a thriving and growing million-dollar black industry.

Finally, there is the widely popular, fanatical and illegal Sports betting in and by way of the U.S. Currently sports betting is an approximate $150-billion per year illegal market according to the American Sports Betting Coalition. This year in 2019 there is a race by some 20+ states to make sports gambling legal, regulated, and to take chunks out of wagers and winnings for state tax-revenues. Gamblers and underground gambling-gaming houses are fighting these changes; they do not want to give up more of their “profits.” This means there will likely always be illegal sports betting in the U.S. to evade state and federal taxes. This creates more problems. A large sector of America, mostly the economic upper 20% – 30% do not want to pay their taxes. Therefore, this breeds and sustains black markets such as sports gambling and affiliate laundering markets.

Phony Pharma
The majority of American prescription drug patients want or need their pharmaceuticals for one or two reasons: 1) they must have them to survive their chronic medical issues and illnesses, and/or 2) the cost to patients and insurers fluctuates relative to economic variables throughout the entire chain of manufacturing, from research, to FDA approval, to production and distribution, to end-user and their insurance coverage, semi-coverage, or no coverage. The fact will always remain, everyone in that entire pharma chain affects all the others. Period. Legislatures must factor their policies with all six phases in mind.

When it comes to a matter of life or death, or even getting by until something improves, legally or not, patients or end-users will do whatever it takes to survive. Common medicines such as inhalers, antibiotics, or insulin for diabetes are rarely affordable. Those three widely used meds for chronic illnesses are a very small part of America’s health problems overly managed by pharmaceuticals. Just a one-month supply of legal legitimate insulin costs $900 at the pharmacy. Between 2002 and 2013 legal insulin prices tripled that. According to a February 2019 Fortune.com article:

According to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, just 12.4% of Americans ages 19 to 64 are uninsured, a rate the Commonwealth Fund notes is statistically unchanged since 2016 despite efforts by the Trump administration to weaken the law.

But the number of underinsured Americans has steadily climbed, increasing from approximately 29 million in 2010 to 44 million in 2018. Underinsured is defined by those whose out-of-pocket costs or deductible comprise 5-10% of their income. These individuals find it more difficult to cover their medical bills, which can often turn into debt.

As healthcare and pharmaceutical costs remain fairly steady, or higher, and/or rising, millions of Americans are increasingly underinsured. These are a handful of causes for a thriving black underground phony pharma market. With demand on the rise exponentially, a demand now higher than heroin, this illegal trade has gotten uglier and usually the consequences are deadly, immediately and in the short and mid-term.

A vast number of phony pharma dealers and distributors risk their liberties and rights as “free” citizens and going to prison if caught in order to deliver patients their life-giving prescriptions—prescriptions they otherwise could not legally afford due to insurance denials and/or deductibles nor the mandatory health guidelines of obtaining prescription refills, i.e. the monthly or bimonthly doctor checkups, tests, etc. Those checkups are by no means cheap for further additional reasons. And as law-enforcement clamps down on this illegal business, they push it further underground. In turn, black market prices rise, then more ruthless criminal opportunists get involved for the higher profits. Despite good intentions of sons, daughters, nieces or nephews making Robin Hood pharmacy deliveries for family and friends, consuming or injecting unregulated, untested medications from producers sold without the licensed experienced permission of a medical doctor and staff puts the user at high risk for overdose, misuse, and severe side-effects or permanent damage, sometimes death.

Many self-made self-taught pharmacists setup their own chemical labs, mix-up and package their own knock-off meds that are in high demand. For example, many of the aforementioned chronic illness prescriptions above stimulate a rise of homemade pharma labs. Their kitchens become a mini-production line based on internet printed recipes of chemical ingredients, volumes, weights, and procedures making a sketchy cheaper consumer street-product. But very high profit margins for kitchen-pharmacists in a high-demand American society who cannot get enough pills and vials for every type of discomfort, pain, relaxation, or pleasure make all the risks worthwhile to improve their own economic distress.

Human Trafficking
For migrants entering illegally from Central America through Mexico to the U.S., surviving the days and nights in the desert is daunting, exhausting, and sometimes lethal. Yet, to flee the escalating violence in their native country they’ll pay Coyotes up to $5,000 upfront for ‘protection’ and a one-way attempt across the border. Along the way immigrants also face extortion, pathetic conditions, while young females are sometimes forced into global prostitution. For more detailed reports click here and here. If they make a successful entry across the border and get to their final, main hub like Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Antonio, or Houston, the gang/cartel extorts another large fee of up to $3,500 – $5,000 for employment hookups” with corrupt American business owners. More on this later.

For over two decades street gangs and crime syndicates or cartels have taken over the billion dollar human smuggling operation into the United States. The entire chain of illegal immigration from origin, to stash-houses (holding as many as 150 people in small 2-bedroom homes with no plumbing or electricity), to the next hub-transfer, to more stash-houses, to final destination, gangs, grey business groups, and cartels… here in the U.S. each are extortion setups for cash percentages. Everybody takes their large cut.

Houston stash-house

Over 62 illegal immigrants living in a Houston, TX stash-house for several weeks, 2017 – photo by U.S. I.C.E.

In a 2015 National Geographic investigative documentary, a 26-year old U.S. small business owner/contractor in Phoenix, AZ nicknamed Vicente, who has perfect English, told journalists how lucrative human trafficking works on the American side of the border:

As long as there is a hard border with a wall, no wall, threats from this President or that President, I.C.E, law-enforcement like Border Patrol, and an endless demand by American business owners wanting cheaper, cooperative, no hassles, blue-collar workers accepting minimum wage or less to work 12-16 hour days, and for no job health benefits, my life and family are good!

In fact, the harder the U.S. government makes it to cross, the more money I can demand and make! They keep me in business. And in D.C. when they demand less government intrusion into businesses and work operations, pass laws for more lax regulations and enforcement, that makes my job and money easier! [Vincente chuckles] Yeah, I’d be STUPID not to make fat cash like this. All the other American-born “taxi drivers” or human wranglers [also business owners/contractors] here I know have been doing this for generations. And this is just Phoenix! In the larger cities they rake in 2-3 times as much as I do! I want a piece of that American dream just like anyone else here… or coming here. To be honest, that dream is really a nightmare on BOTH sides of the border. But damn it sells; and for just about any amount.

Now that gangs and cartels are involved in every part of trafficking immigrants from origin to U.S. destination, any migrant that can’t pay or causes problems, gangs like Barrio 18 in Guatemala or Honduras will threaten or kill their family members back home until the debt is paid in full. When the operation goes difficult or bad, money is not the only tender—children or teen-girls are bartered throughout the gang/cartel systems as sexual commodities.

Regarding those aforementioned “employment hookups,” I personally have two cousins (Caucasian of course) near Austin, TX that have been in all aspects of the business-residential construction industry for all their lives—started out as 17-year olds with uncles. By 34 and 36 years old, they had their own official contracting businesses, one in plumping & electric, the other in residential and commercial landscaping. Both eventually progressed financially up into storage-unit facilities (several different locations), in particular RV & Boat storage for the highly popular, recreational lakes of Lake Travis, Lake Marble Falls, and Lake Georgetown. These three areas, as well as West Lake Hills and Rollingwood, are some of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S., and certainly in Texas. My cousins are both in their early 50’s now and fully retired from their 30-years of work, the last 10-15 managing their hired supervisors. By the way, my cousins both speak decent Spanish, their “supervisors/foremen” are always bilingual.

After many family reunions that take an entire day to socialize, eat, drink, socialize more, eat more, drink more, and perhaps some games or dancing, I overheard and learned firsthand from these two cousins the tricks-of-the-trade and their yellow brick road to fortune and the high-life. Their success, fortune, and retirement was really made when they owned their contracting/sub-contracting businesses in construction and landscaping, most of it on the sweat and backs of a Hispanic labor-force who almost always accepted low wages (compared to Caucasian workers) and who demanded no health benefits for themselves or families. Wages and salaries, much less benefits, were NOT one of their biggest business expense. One reunion when asked indirectly how he avoided immigration problems he replied with a grin,

Who tha hell wants more government!? As long as we have under-staffed and under-funded State and Federal labor and immigration agencies (led by some we know personally) or are virtually non-existent agencies and staff that I don’t want to pay taxes for and try not to, and Texas stays Red and/or D.C. has a Red Administration and Congress, there’s no worries—the economy is great! [he winked and smiled]

Needless to say, I didn’t need to ask what party-ticket he always voted for and supported. Just two more native Texans/Americans that fuel this ugly, inhumane BU Inc. For the appalling reality of official statistics, go here:  The Facts of Human Trafficking. For an investigative look into human sex-trafficking going on inside the United States, like Phoenix, AZ, also a hub for illegal migrants, watch PBS Frontline Sex Trafficking in America.

Ghost Guns
When economic inequality is rising or high, other social and criminal problems follow. Street gangs, pimps and international drug cartels require untraceable guns to enforce their activity. Enter the booming black market of ghost guns: an illegitimate exact replica that has no ballistic record and has never been serialized. Hence, governments and law-enforcement have no records, and background checks on buyers are completely bypassed. For felons with history and illegal operations this is the only means of acquiring weapons. With recent technology in metal-milling just about anyone over the age of 12 can now make firearms at home. This is exactly what 17-year old Alwin Chen built himself and regularly carried inside his Clarksburg High School in Maryland.

Imagine for a minute that you are born into a very impoverished, violent crime-ridden neighborhood anywhere in the world, including the highest violent-crime cities in the United States like St. Louis, MO, Detroit, MI, Baltimore, MA, and Memphis, TN (2017 stats)… the nation’s top four lethal metro areas respectively. Economic, occupational, and mental-illness programs are either non-existent or extremely under-funded and under-staffed. This leaves most all residents with very few legitimate options to earn enough to pay rent and utilities just to barely get by. The more convenient choices for better money (but with a low education-level) are illegal choices. For a 13-year old Guatemalan boy whose parents and siblings were threatened or executed by street gangs and drug cartels, if he didn’t work for them, what would you do to save the lives of your family?

Street and drug gangs in corrupt, poor, violent Central American countries as well as in Mexico and the United States, e.g. Fresno, CA, home of the Fresno Bulldogs, usually buy with their Black Underground earnings ghost guns or “burner guns” to protect, maintain, and enforce their illegal business operations against other cartels/gangs and law-enforcement. Homemade ghost guns today are now the gang’s and syndicate’s bread and butter, their Savior of convenience with no serialization or backgrounds. Clean weapons.

Wealthy, well-supported pro-gun, 2nd Amendment fanatics, retailers, gun-shop owners, and national weapons organizations all lobby heavily in Washington, D.C., to keep regulation of weapons and weapon-sales to the “general public” either non-existent or very minimal/lax. When all the past chronic gun problems and legal issues of weapons manufacturing fade away—because producing them in your home-garage, or inside the cartel’s and hidden warehouses/stores of street gangs is too easy, more profitable—ghost gun milling will (and has already started) replace such traditional brand-names as Smith & Wesson, Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer, Colt Defense, and many others. The only effective defense against such a future, extensively weaponized, trigger-happy armed society will be a total ban on gun-part sales.

Sadly, even a drastic nationwide ban on the sell of gun-parts won’t stop home-made produced weapons getting into the hands of 13-year old boys from extremely destitute families, homes, and neighborhoods or violent gangs and cartels, no matter what country is poor or wealthy, corrupt or compassionate, civilized or uncivilized. The genies will be out of the bottles. They will be near impossible to put back in unless Congressional countermeasures are swift and atomically comprehensive.

Human Organ Trade
organ-trade_pakistan-philippinesOf all the fourteen tentacles of this Black Underworld market, the human organ trade is one of the most despicable black markets in existence for me personally. But for desperate impoverished people, severe desperation causes people to do unthinkable desperate acts. Once again, gross economic inequality creates yet another inhumane market:  the buying and selling of human body-parts. Whether the donor is alive and consenting or not, doesn’t necessarily matter to the business dealers.

With legal supply unable to meet demand, the black market organ trade is thriving, and crime syndicates with global reach pocket millions from the desperately poor. Kidneys and livers grab some of the highest dollar amounts because they are 2-of-5 organs most vital to sustained life.

According to the World Health Organization:

The international organ trade links the incapacity of national health care systems to meet the needs of patients with the lack of appropriate regulatory frameworks or implementation elsewhere. It exploits these discrepancies and is based on global inequities. Accordingly, the growth and regularization of the international organ trade should be regarded as a global public health issue.

What part does the U.S. play in this global public health issue? The 2009 arrest of 44 people in New Jersey working in and knowingly benefiting from trafficking human organs shined a dark light on a growing, gross exploitation of health and economic inequities, in the U.S. and around the world. Wealthy patients pay top-dollar for organs from poor third-world residents and the 2009 arrests revealed only one out of many crime-rings of organ brokers operating within our country. Levy Rosenbaum, a rabbi in Brooklyn, NY and Finder-Middleman between donors, surgeons, and recipients boasted to the FBI agents he had been operating in this market for over 10-years. After serving about 2-years in prison, Rosenbaum was released.

Why would anyone get involved in this black market of human body-parts? The graphic below illustrates why.

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Dr. Nancy Scheper-Hughes of the Dept. of Anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley is perhaps the most renown advocate and activist against human organ trafficking. In an April 2016 interview, Dr. Scheper-Hughes stated:

…some of the U.S.’s topmost medical facilities have been caught with illegally trafficked organs. Scheper-Hughes has tracked organs to hospitals and medical centers in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, among other places. At one point, she found herself across the table from a group of organ transplant surgeons at a top Philadelphia hospital.

In the shadows of these transplant operations are the organized crime syndicates using many deceptive illegal scams. Sometimes they’ll convince the target they have a (false) medical issue, get them to a clinic, put them (forceably?) under anesthesia and remove the organ(s) they seek. Other means are promising a large cash payoff and some aftercare treatment… but after its removal. Then they short-change the donor and offer no rehab afterwards. In most of these 3rd world countries, the poor and powerless can do nothing.

Once the syndicates have the fresh organs, they fetch anywhere between $20,000 to $200,000 per organ depending on its destination country and wealth of the patient. The donors rarely receive $5,000 for their naivety. Organ brokers deal with anyone around the world and put them in touch with “broker-friendly” surgeons and hospitals in developed countries like the U.S., Canada, or China… wherever top-dollar is acquired. Many U.S. hospitals and doctors, says Scheper-Hughes, either ignore the organ’s point of origin or how, they simply don’t ask, or pretend the black organ trade doesn’t exist. Many doctors and hospitals knowingly get involved for the big cash-payoff, which in turn requires “experts” in laundering that income. They often justify/defend their illegal behavior, like Levi Rosenbaum remarked, by stating How is saving a life a crime?

Perhaps one of the most maligned, indignant defenses or justifications for participating in and promotion of organ trafficking is conveyed by author and investigative journalist Alison Weir regarding Scheper-Hughes’ assistance in the 2009 New Jersey arrests:

When the [New Jersey] events became public, [Scheper-Hughes] said that much of the world’s illicit traffic in kidneys could be traced to Israel. In a 2008 lecture, she is reported as identifying two motivations of Israeli traffickers as “greed” and “Revenge, restitution—reparation for the Holocaust.” She is reported as describing speaking with Israeli brokers who told her “it’s kind of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We’re going to get every single kidney and liver and heart that we can. The world owes it to us.’”

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In my final part five, the Conclusion, I want to further explore how chronic poverty and socioeconomic inequality (America’s desperate and/or homeless) is not only a petri-dish for extreme exploitation of the needy and Have-nots by the criminal Black Underworld as we’ve seen in these four parts, but more importantly in the end, in the long-run, costs everybody in a town, community, state, and nation—especially the U.S. with its exorbitant wealth among the top 10% of its population—no matter your social-economic class, status, or public image! You cannot buy yourself out of it or buy exclusivity from it. Everybody ends up paying for the cumulatively self-perpetuated crime, despair, and poverty in one way or another. Period.

I hope you’ll stay tuned for the Conclusion. Meanwhile, please do share any thoughts or questions in the comment-section below. Thanks.

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