Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Adventures in Modern Capitalism: Man Robs Bank of $1 to Obtain Prison Health Care

James Verone robs bank for health care

The only surprising thing about this incident is that it hasn’t happened more often:

Uninsured Man Robs Bank of $1 to Gain Prison Medical Coverage

A North Carolina man who had no health insurance has admitted to recently robbing a bank of one dollar in order to be sent to jail to get free medical coverage. James Verone, a laid-off employee of Coca Cola, recently noticed a protrusion in his chest and had developed arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Without health insurance or money for private care, Verone concluded his best option would be to go to prison. Verone told a local newspaper, “The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept. I kind of hit a brick wall with everything.” Since being held in jail he has seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday.

The story communicates much about our society.  A giant, multinational, multi-billion dollar corporation laid off an employee, leaving him without income and without access to medical care.  Verone was then sentenced to prison for stealing $1 from a bank, an ironic development considering that banks prosper by stealing money from people in any way they can.  As an ordinary law-abiding citizen Verone was not afforded the access to health care, but somehow criminals are deemed worthy of this most basic of human rights.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Corporations and banking institutions are granted free reign in their relentless pursuit of profits, and all other considerations – including human rights – are relegated to the sidelines.  We do not know for certain the reasons why Coca Cola dismissed Verone, but how is it that one of the world’s most profitable corporations can lay off an individual without providing adequate compensation for him to survive while searching for a new job?  The scenario is complicated even further by the fact that Verone then became seriously ill, yet in our barbaric society he lacked access to health care.  Coca Cola’s dismissal of Verone is therefore that much more inhumane; even if they were unaware of his illness, they surely understood the grim of reality of being unemployed and uninsured, and facing the specter of poor health.  And yet the actions of Coca Cola are never questioned – whatever is done in the pursuit of profit is always, it seems, justified.

But this of course is just the start of the story.  Verone was then sentenced to prison for stealing from an institution of mass thievery.  In actuality, he merely reclaimed a dollar which was undoubtedly obtained by dubious means in the first place.  Banks thrive on swindling citizens out of money at every opportunity.  If ordinary citizens acted in the same manner they would be called criminals and thieves – as Verone was – but in America we call them bankers.

But banks wield immense power in our society, so their actions are beyond reprimand.  Their loyal cronies within the various law enforcement agencies – agencies which exist almost solely to protect the riches of the wealthy – then apprehended the hapless Verone and sentenced him to prison.  Now as a ward of the government, and quite possibly a for-profit, corporate-owned prison, Verone was suddenly entitled to the basic human right of health care that tens of millions of ordinary Americans lack.  Why is it that we recognize a “criminal’s” right to health care, but not that of ordinary hard-working citizens?

The true criminals here are the corporate entities which have created and maintained a system which allows scenarios such as this to develop at all.  If access to health care, housing, and adequate employment were considered universal human rights – as they should be – then Verone would never have been forced to stoop to such humiliating tactics.  And yet today Verone sits behind bars while the profiteers continue to reap billions, crushing the lives of anyone who happens to stand in their path.

But such is the Capitalist way.

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One response to “Adventures in Modern Capitalism: Man Robs Bank of $1 to Obtain Prison Health Care

  1. lacithedog June 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    No surprise to me at all given my work in the criminal justice system. People would rather pay the thousands of dollars to lock people up than to give them a job, health care, housing, educations, and so on. It is indeed a sad commentary on US society.

    On the other hand, the budget debate only works to highlight what values are being promoted in US society. These values are truly screwed up.

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