Sep 01, 2020 Editorial
Even now, during the pandemic, every street corner with major pedestrian flows seems to have them. Once there is a store with an extended overhang to provide sheltering below, that makes things better, and serves as a magnet for them, where they cluster in ragged bundles of troubled humanity. They are our street people: the homeless, the sick, the hungry and the addicted. They represent an accumulation of physical and social problems, which numb, anger, and endanger many.
Though nobody may have an official count, there are easily hundreds of these stricken citizens that trace the demographics of this society: ethnic composition, gender, age, none is left out. They have long presented a peculiar concern, one which most know, but none has spent the time necessary to articulate publicly to garner some reaction, and give some traction as to what is really at work.
The news story titled, “Junkie aid $300 to steal $435,000 motorbike court hears” (KN December 22) brings home the reality of business and neighbourhoods, as well as lay bare the criminality just below the surface using these unfortunate ones, and sometimes from surprising places.
Because for every such story of theft, of exploitation, of misuse, of crime that reaches the media, there are several more that pass by without mention. They are most likely experienced daily. The addict is engaged and recruited (as in another KN article of junkies being recruited on the West Demerara for criminal purposes), the addict is incentivized to prey upon homes and stores, the addict steals and carries away, the addict hands over the valuable goods, as in this case costing hundreds of thousands, while collecting less than a thousand dollars. This item was reduced to a net price of less than one percent of its original cost.
Who could ask for a better bargain than that? With all the addict-inspired thievery around, the other question is: who are the buyers? For clearly, from the shabby condition of the street citizen, he cannot legitimately claim ownership of the item, and given the price asked something must be terribly wrong.
The worrying side of this already tragic side of human deterioration is how the fallen and the hurting are being misused by supposedly respectable businesspeople or residents to do dirty work. It must be remembered for these fabulous prices (bargains), somebody had to pay, which would be the one reporting the loss to the police precinct. The so-called honest and sober citizens taking advantage either proactively (encouraging them) or passively (buying what they bring) are those operating on the dishonest side of things.
In other words, they will take anything from anyone, including those at the bottom in the gutter. They will rip-off these poor, starved, crazed, helpless wretches. With conduct like this, who is the real addict here? The dirty, lowdown criminal in such circumstances?
It is the buyer, plain and simple and no arguments there. These upstanding citizens contribute to crime, encourage it, and feed and perpetuate addictions. They are responsible for some of the violence that flares within the ranks of the high, when they maim, even kill another. The buyer could be a man or woman of god, a professional on the rise, a businessperson building inventory (but owing rates and taxes), or regular homeowners and residents in for a quick bargain.
The line common to all ready buyers is this: bring it and we will buy it. No questions asked, just take the price we pay and come back when there are more items to sell at genuine giveaway prices. The extended line reads like this: bring anything (or what is specified) and the market is waiting right here. Of course, the price to be paid (like that motorbike) has no relationship to the underlying cost of the item.
But one man’s gain is another man’s bitter, sometimes unaffordable, loss. Our goodly citizens complain about crime and the dangerous streets and roaming menacing people of the street. Too often for comfort, some of the very same people complaining are contributing and benefiting and prospering at the expense of neighbours and strangers. The addicts are not only the homeless, the criminals not just those for whom the police search.
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