By now, you’ve heard of the case of Eric Garner, who died on a Staten Island, New York City street under a pile of NYPD officers who were in the process of arresting him for allegedly selling loose, individual cigarettes. Yesterday, it was announced that a Grand Jury has cleared the arresting officer of any charges for Garner’s death.
Grand Jury cases are tried in secrecy, so we really do not know upon what testimony and forensic evidence the jury members used to render their decision, but speculation is that Garner may not have died of asphyxiation due to the officer’s actions; rather, he may have passed due to an asthma attack or heart attack. Regardless, it is clear that his arrest certainly triggered whatever malady killed Garner, making it easy to see how a minimal charge of involuntary manslaughter should have been levied against the arresting officer.
This case, however, goes even deeper than the police actions on that day.
My favorite films are The Godfather and The Godfather II. In The Godfather II, there is a scene in which the main character, Vito Corleone, sometime in the early 1900s, sells a few dresses in his neighborhood. Later, the local mafia boss, Don Fanucci, stops Vito and requests a cash payment for his sale because Corleone was operating in Fanucci’s territory and Fanucci tells Corleone that he just wants to “wet his beak” a little.
One hundred years after this fictional but realistic event took place, modern American government has become like Fanucci, making it a crime for someone to re-sell cigarettes because government is not getting their cut; they’re not “wetting their beak,” as Fanucci would say.
Mr. Garner did not pay his business license fee to operate in City and State government territory and was not charging sales tax, either.
The problem here is that a pack of cigarettes in South Carolina cost about $3.50 a pack. In New York City, it’s about $13.50 a pack. Big government has increased the cost of cigarettes in NYC by 285%. The ironic thing about this massive increase is that anarchists and socialists in the “Occupy” movement rail against banking and industry while it is really big government that is bankrupting people.
The “One Per Cent” can afford to pay an extra $10 on a pack of cigarettes, so a wealthy banker doesn’t bat an eyelash at the cost of his/her smoking habit. To someone in Mr. Garner’s more poverty-stricken neighborhood, however, who smokes a pack a day, that extra $70 a week – indeed, $3,640 annually – is a great expense. And it’s not the banker or the businessman who is confiscating that money from middle class citizens and those living below the poverty line; it’s big government in New York state and New York City, run by the Democrat party for which the urban poor tend to vote.
Like the mafia, the government will try to “wet their beak” any time they see an opportunity to do so. In fact, they’ve taken many of their money-making schemes straight from the mafia. The lottery? That came from Italian mobsters, who paid kids two bits to run slips of paper with lottery numbers on them between storefronts that operated the Italian lottery in Lower Manhattan Italian neighborhoods. Italian kids referred to this as “running numbers” or “numbers games.” The government outlawed it, then started running their own lottery system. Of course, it’s still illegal for citizens to run their own games of chance, but fine for the government to do it. And if a church or charity wishes to run a game of chance to raise money (50/50, tricky tray, raffle, etc.), they must go to the state government gaming board and pay for a permit because, well, the government wants to “wet their beak.” And folks who win prizes valued above a certain threshold (about $1,200), have to pay income tax on the value of their prize because, well, “wet beaks!”
It’s the same with sports gambling; highly illegal, but hundreds of millions are gambled nationally on college and pro football games every weekend in the fall. Here in New Jersey, our governor and state legislators see great profits made by illegal gambling and want to make sports betting legal, so they can get their cut and “wet their beaks.”
And really, that’s why Eric Garner was killed. He was re-selling cigarettes. Presumably, he bought these cigarettes and already paid the taxes on them once, but was re-selling them at a profit. No different, really, than Grateful Dead fans who used to sell water and grilled cheese sandwiches at tailgate parties before concerts. These people had no food licenses and reported no taxable income, so they, too, were operating an illegal business. Should cops have invaded stadium parking lots to pile on Deadheads to arrest them, too?
If I’m not mistaken, the illegal resale of product is simply a misdemeanor, so couldn’t the NYPD officer have simply written a citation and handed it to Mr. Gardner? Do we really need to waste the already overwhelmed court system’s time and resources – our tax dollars! – arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning someone for failing to wet the government’s beak?
The bottom line is that it’s time government step-back and stop taxing, tolling and regulating Americans, literally, to death.