Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., Dec. 9
Yesterday's shocking local headline for me was the murder of a 17-year-old schoolgirl at the Old Town Transit Center, where her female friend was also stab-wounded. The 17-year-old male assailant apparently had been arguing with the two girls just earlier while on the bus.
It appears that he waited to spring his courageous attack until after getting off the bus, having a clearer path to a clean get-away that didn't happen.
I am not sure what these two girls could have said on the bus that would have caused a double knifing, but no matter what was said or otherwise done, the facts are that somebody was killed, another possibly maimed for life, and the attacker was literally caught red-handed in front of a whole lot of witnesses.
At the same time, hundreds of miles away, the union representing prison guards is in open revolt in time of war, threatening a recall movement against the Governator who was himself installed with a coup-like recall vote against the previous California commander-in-chief.
Thousands of miles away, NASA contemplates the last of the Shuttle missions as that aging squadron of workhorses awaits retirement on the completion of the International Space Station.
Where most people like to see problems, I want to see solutions. My solution for the sum total of what ails this country right now?
Freeze-dried felons floating in space.
Let me explain this. We as people do have some sort of expectation that we can defend ourselves against those who hang out at bus stops with hidden kitchen cutlery. In fact, the law can generally excuse someone who defends others by using up to deadly force to prevent the killing of the unsuspecting or the innocent.
At the same time, more than a few of us are pretty squimish about applying the death penalty, especially when a number of those prisoners end up dead from old age before exhausting their mandatory death-penalty appeals. The certainty of those appeals is just a job subsidy program for otherwise-unemployed lawyers.
So I say, why force the state to kill killers and turn them into some desperate people's martyrs when we have the technology for the ultimate alternate solution?
Voilà... Freeze-dried felons floating in space!
Let me spell this out. First, you take somebody like the heroic knife-fighting figure described above, get them very high on the state's medicinal drug of choice, and then send him very high behind something large, like out to the dark side of the moon. It's cool there... so cool that our prisoner turns into an orbiting popsicle.
Now, this is not actually a dead orbiting popsicle, just well preserved. With our almost-ordinary EMT ability to restore life after death here on Earth, the popsicle-prisoner has not suffered the death penalty, just suspended animation. It's not much different than waiting in line at the DMV when the state has no budget, except you can't use your cell phone no matter how many bars you've got. No death-penalty protesters, no fuss, no muss.
Just freeze-dried felons floating in space, out of sight and out of mind.
In such a state, who even needs prison guards? Think of the savings to our state budget, where guard overtime basically means that every guard gets paid like two of 'em. Parole or probation problems? Not anymore, and not likely from anyone but a real fool who'd be soon freeze-dried and floating in space.
Let's be honest about this. We have far too many of us camping out in prison cells now, but most of us have the sense not to just open the gates, because we generally understand that none of us really wants a bunch of unpardonable anti-socials hanging out in our neighborhoods.
Does anybody want the Night Stalker applying to rent the spare room in the back? As he eyeballs the neighbor's kids? I think not! With that in mind, constitutional amendments about marriage more or less dwindle in the mind...
Think about how this will save the Shuttle program, with the positive potential to rid us of all the subprime mortgage purveyors that should cause us to expand the fleet.
If nothing else, it provides us with a Plan B just in case drought, global warming, and wildfires finally claim the rest of us.
We have the technology. We have the need. We have developers who are panicky-salivating over the idea of turning state prisons into thousands upon thousands of super-secure condo conversions, jump-starting our economy for the next round of subprimality in whatever form that may take in the future.
If we can't restart the housing market and reinvigorate the economy while reclaiming our prison facilities for ourselves and our posterity by taking out the garbage at the same time, then what's the point?
If there are any problems with this, then it is what to do with all of the ex-prison guards now with nothing left to do. Same thing with excess college graduates without real majors, teachers against merit pay, and termed-out politicians.
Freeze-dried freeloaders floating in space?
[For those who swear they've seen the phrase FDFFIS before, this was a ripoff of something that I had published in the San Diego City Times at least a decade ago, edited for the present from memory]
THIS JUST IN (9/19/08):
Our beloved president has just finished speaking from the Whitehouse lawn about a rescue plan for financiers on Wall Street, so now we have economic guidance from a man who works in government, living in a rent-free mansion.
Our big problem is that we have all come to lack confidence in the markets and the derivative paper being sold in those markets.
To improve our confidence, we are being told that the government will now begin to insure mutual funds, to prevent any mutual fund investor from losing anything below a certain limit, like Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees that ordinary bank accounts are safe up to $100,000. Of course, there is "risk", but the good thing about speaking from the Whitehouse lawn on short notice is that there are no reporters to ask questions about who's got the tab for this.
Solving that mystery is easy. It's the government who is picking up the check, on the full faith and credit of We The People not having a tax revolt.
Some of us understand that building "confidence" sometimes leads to "confidence games" played on us by "con men."
Personally, I am confident that insuring mutual funds will lead to a new form of subprimality as soon as some Wall Street wizard figures out how to "game" the government's mutual fund insurance with some kind of derivative paper.
Of course, there is a solution for that and CCDC/SEDC too:
Freeze-dried financiers floating in space.