Copyright 2015 by John T. Reed

Forget “society” and all that bullshit in the Baltimore debate. I want to talk directly to the Baltimore parents and cops and all those similarly situated around the U.S.

What in the hell are you doing in that city?

No good parent raises children in a high-crime ghetto with abysmal schools. If you are a parent and you are raising your kid in the ghetto there your behavior is so horrible that it defies comprehension. Get the hell out of there before your kid dies or ends up in prison or a single mom with no education. I read that many of the top elected officials in Baltimore have close relatives who were murdered. Come for the race-hustler political career. Stay for the funerals of your close relatives.

Leaving’s not so easy, you say?

Shove it.

My mom left

My dad was a mean drunk. But he did not leave. He stayed for the free room and board and clothing and cigarettes and booze. So technically my mom was not a single mom; her husband never left. I would say she had a bigger challenge than the mere single moms with no man present. Their oldest son was not calling the cops to make their father stop. My mother’s oldest son, me, was.

After being a housewife and mother for twenty years, when my dad could still hold a job, my mom had to go back to work. She was a high school grad with secretarial skills and the skills to be a retail sales clerk. She rented a typewriter to see if she could still type and to practice to get her speed back up to fast enough to be hired. She was relieved to find that she could still type, but still scared that she was too out of practice and too old to get hired. She not only got jobs, but she was a much better and smarter than average secretary so she typically rose to the big boss’s secretary. But she was not in the chips, just able to earn enough to support my brothers and me and her unemployed husband.

My dad went off the rails for the final time in terms of holding a job when we lived in a rural town. So my mom not only had to get a job, she had to get us out of there and back to the metro area where she grew up and had friends and relatives and business connections.

She left us in the rural town, with no adult but my dad, because she had no place for us to live in the metro area. She stayed with her mom in a one-bedroom apartment while she worked and looked for a place for us to live. No one wanted to rent to a woman with three sons, two of them teenagers. She finally found a two-bedroom apartment above a beauty shop on an old main street. Part of the trick was finding a place in the Collingswood NJ school district. She had gone to a nearby Catholic school and knew well the long-term, high reputation of Collingswood in spite of its being a lower middle-class town.

One night while my brothers and I were living in the farm town with my father, he got drunk yet again. I left the house to get away from him. I spent the entire night walking the streets. I spent part of it on steps on the back of the high school, the rest on a bench at the still-working train station. I did not sleep. When I got home the next morning, figuring my dad had slept it off, my face was all dirty—I guess from trying to sleep on the train station bench. He had slept it off, and he had called the police when he discovered I was not there.

Foster home!?

Days later in school, I was called to the principal’s office. Two men from child welfare were there. I was a“ runaway,” they said, and they were going to put me into a foster home. I was a shy, quiet kid then. Hell, as a senior in high school four years later, I was voted “most quiet boy” in a class of 388. But I told that guy he was nuts. I said my mom was going to come back eventually and we were going to move to the Philadelphia area. “Your mother doesn’t love you,”  he told me, “as evidenced by the fact that she left you and your brothers with a drunk.” I was about as mad as a shy, quiet 14-year old could get talking to two government guys. I guess they called my mom and she talked them out of it. I never heard anymore about it.

My mom chewed me out for leaving the house all night. I chewed her out for leaving me and my brothers with a drunken bum. She cried, but I had seen that enough times that it didn’t work anymore. I wanted her to get rid of my dad.

We finally moved to Collingswood in October of 1962, during the school year which is not a good idea. My father came with us, which was an extremely bad idea.

I wanted a better life

Around that time, I visited West Point where my mother’s brother worked and decided to try to go there. I also decided never to drink alcohol. I wanted my children to never have to change schools which I painfully had to do. I wanted to be the opposite of my father and wanted my kids to have a better life.

I did manage to get the appointment to West Point, with my mother’s help, and the rest is history if you read my about-the-author. I have never taken a drink of alcohol. I got married, raised three sons through college. My sons have never known any home with my wife and me but the one my wife and I currently live in. They now live in their own homes.

What government program?

What government program did my mom use to save us from my father? None. Her parents sent her to Catholic schools during the depression. They were poorer than we were. So she did not even go to the public schools that Elizabeth Warren would tell you was the proof that my mother did not do what she did on her own. The “program” that saved my mom and us were her education, work ethic, self-reliance, and citizenship. We got not one penny of government help. No jobs program.

As far as my going to West Point being a government program, it sure was. But I also had a full-tuition scholarship to Rutgers University which in spite of its funny name is what would normally be called the University of New Jersey. I probably would have muddled through with part-time jobs to pay my room and board. All I needed was to graduate from high school with decent grads and a decent conduct record. My mom presided over that getting done.

And West Point was arguably the toughest college in America then because of the general ordeal of the place. I would not go there if I had it to do over, notwithstanding the fact that it is “free.” Ask the parents of my twenty classmates on the Vietnam Memorial Wall how free it was. None of my sons ever considered going to a service academy for one second.

Millions of moms like my mom

Is my story extraordinary? No. There are millions of similar stories in America. The single moms, like my mom, are the real unsung heroes, not every loser who puts on a U.S. military uniform in basic training. The single moms and the adult children who take care of elderly relatives who can’t take care of themselves are the real, silent heroes.

In short, the parents who live in that Baltimore ghetto have no excuse. They need to get the hell out of there with their kids before it’s too late.

How can they fund it? Figure it out. No one gave my mom a blueprint. Buy a used RV and live in it and home school your kids. Where do you get income? I dunno. I can write so I could do that and my income probably would not diminish one iota. Another possibility would be to work as a caretaker where you park the RV on the property you are caretaker of. I’m not going to give you a comprehensive list. Just a couple of ideas. Like I said, figure it out. I’m not interested in your damned excuses.

If you don’t get out of there, you are a horseshit parent.

Cops who don’t resign from the Baltimore police are a sorry bunch

Now to the Baltimore cops. What self-respecting man or woman would continue to work for the current Mayor of Baltimore, under the current Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, child bride of a race-hustling, body-temperature IQ, Baltimore city Councilman, or under Baltimore Police Commissioner Batts?

That’s not so easy, you say?

Shove it.

Can’t afford to leave? Yeah, you can. What you can’t afford is to stay in such a soul-destroying situation.

I know. You’re paid more than your worth thanks to your union and the public being intimidated by the line that when others are running out of a building, you guys run in. Yeah, and if there’s a vacancy in your police force, there will be a line around the block to fill it, in spite of the danger, because of the overgenerous pay and bennies. When one opening attracts one qualified applicant, come back to me. Until then, you’re overpaid and over benefited.

Actions speak louder than words. You’re still there aren’t you? The only reason is the high pay and the benefits you know you could not get anywhere else.

A self-respecting man or woman officer would tell Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, and Police commissioner Anthony W. Batts to take this job and shove it.

The police union put the cops in golden handcuffs

Ironically, the great protector of the police, their union, has put golden handcuffs on them. They can’t leave. They are addicted to the above-market value pay—probably have a mortgage payment based on that high income. And are close enough to the fabulous pension to have started mentally spending it and the leisure time they will have when they “put in their papers.”

Been there. Done that—or a reasonable facsimile of it. My Succeeding book has a chapter on that. It’s titled “Tenure and other good deals ‘too good to leave.’” It covers such things as college professor tenure, having a rent-controlled apartment, a union job, a police, fire, or military career.

I had the military career.

Had it made at my West Point graduation

In 1968, when I graduated from West Point, we West Pointers got RA commissions. That stood for Regular Army and meant that you could not be fired except for cause. There is some similar split among enlisted men. The first two letters of your serial number designated it. We West Point grads had serial numbers that started with OF back then. The rest of the officer corps had some other letters that indicated there were mere reserve officers. As the other officers stayed in for a career, many achieved RA status but often their current rank was reserve and some past, lower rank was their RA rank, meaning they would go back to that rank in the event of a RIF—reduction in force. My uncle who worked at West Point had made it to major from enlisted during World War II. He was at one time, the youngest captain in Europe among non-pilots. After the war, there was a RIF. He would have to go back to staff sergeant or some such—his RA rank.

As I refused to go along with the BS in the military, I was told repeatedly by superiors and peers that my life was ruined. I half believed it. But I did not regret it. I was congenitally incapable of “playing the game” in the Army. During Vietnam, there was a bookmobile at one of my assignments. I got a book on franchising, that is starting a business by purchasing a franchise. I seriously considered some sort of business bookkeeping one. It was relatively cheap. Another chapter was about buying your own truck tractor—the front end of an 18-wheeler, and becoming an independent truck driver. I figured it was a no-BS job where yyou pick up cargo and deliver it with no subjective rating by a boss. With more experience now at age 68 I would expect getting the job of hauling cargo is probably laden with BS. Picking up cargo and deliveirng it is probably only part of making a living that way.

In the event, after Vietnam there was another RIF, and lo and behold, many of my classmates got RIFfed. I wish I had. They got about $15,000 severance pay. I only got about $4,000 when I got thrown out for “defective attitude.”

But during my four years as an officer, I had the coveted RA commission. When it became apparent that the war was ending and a RIF was coming, there was great anguish among most of the officers. And there I was, “Lieutenant Reed got an RA commission handed to him at West Point, and he can’t wait to threw it away.”

My mom, who came of age during the Great Depression, told me to stay in the Army because it was a guaranteed, government job. My peers told me I was crazy.

So why was I thrown out if I did not want to stay? When you graduated from West Point back then, you were required to stay on active duty for at least five years. In other words, we were indentured servants literally, although they did not use that terminology.

I was going to resign ASAP, on the fifth anniversary of my graduation, but I refused to go along with two common practices while I was in I called them OPUM and OVUM. I won’t bore you with that here. Suffice it to say, I had what most figured was a “got it made” “good deal:” a West Point diploma and an RA commission and just 16 years until I could retire at age 41 with half pay and free medical care for the rest of my life.

But like my superiors said, “I could not wait to throw it away.” Actually, I was not interested in “it.” I just wanted to be free of the Kafkaesque nightmare of being in the Army and get on with my real life. I would have been glad to give my RA commission to one of the guys who wanted it but I had no such authority.

So I have no sympathy for the Baltimore police who have “too good of a deal” to leave because of their union pay and benefits. No self-respecting human being would put up with what has happened and is continuing to happen to the police in Baltimore in conjunction with the arrest of Freddie Gray.

How are you gonna pay the mortgage if you quit? Sell the house. Buy another, cheaper one where you can afford both the house and your self-respect.

Here are some Facebook comments on this article and another similar one about Baltimore:

  Ray Pascali I suspect that many of the police officers who do not take your advice and leave will "play the game" by doing the bare minimum while not putting themselves in jeopardy. Bottom line is the public loses but that's the price they pay for continuing to live in this environment.

Phillip McGregor Excellent articles. Last night I dined with a retired police detective and he said these body cameras will be the end of effective policing. He expanded by saying what you just stated in your article about anti-white values in the hood and that he had to talk to them on their level and that is impossible on camera. He gave an example of ordering me to move my car. He said, "Sir, could you please move your car over there?" would be sufficient for normal citizens but in the hood if he said that the typical urban black would slouch, grab his crotch and say F you. He said to get him to move his car he would have to say, "Get this piece of shit car off my MF'ing street before I stomp your ass!" This is not even rude to their minds and they respect him, so they move the car. Of course with a body camera if that recording made the news it would be cue the rabble rousers.

 Phillip McGregor On the subject of the service academies, a friend's kid is in the Merchant Marine Academy. Once trained they can be officers on merchant ships making six figures or any number of other civilian jobs in the industry for just six years. Unique to the other academies, graduates can also elect to become a commissioned officer in any branch of the military. It seems to be a very good deal.

John T. Reed Today’s Thomas Sowell column says similar things to my article above about black skin not being the color. The article title in the San Ramon Valley Times is “Race, politics and lies—we blindly follow the script.” Googling that may enable you to read it. But headlines and titles on columns tend to vary from paper to paper around the country. You may be able to find it by Googling Thomas Sowell’s latest column.

I think my mom’s mind-set sort of eliminated “no excuse, sir” and an unnecessary interim step. She simply had three boys and a husband to feed and had no time to discuss it in terms like no excuse. Excuses require a socialist mind-set. My mom came of age during the Depression. The only solution then was to get a job and work. Today, you can be a Democrat-base grifter living off lawsuits, government checks, welfare fraud, black-market shadow economy work, and crime. None of those were options for my mom. At West Point, “No excuse” was the answer to the question, “Why did you fail to…?” In our house, no one was around to ask that question and my mom had no time to answer it.

It’s a bit like what I say about public school teachers and coaches. The teachers may come up with some dopey notion and teach it to the kids—messing them up for 30 years. Coaches are no less likely to come up with some dopey notion, but they sure as hell are less likely to not wise up fast because they have a game or two each week during the season and getting beat causes a needed reevaluation.

I think if anyone offered my mom some excuse back then—like having a drunk husband or having to support three sons and a husband on a secretary’s salary or some such, she would have dismissed it with, “I can’t pay the bills with excuses.” For pre-1960s Americans, that was an automatic mind-set, like tough love as a way to raise kids.

The mind-set now is from each according to his ability (progressive income tax); to each according to his collection of excuses (government safety net). This is causing expanding disaster in the black community and spreading to other identity groups.·  

Stephen Tobey One correction in the second article, the sketch about the family with multiple jobs was on In Living Color, not SNL: Living Color Hey

John T. Reed Re McGregor: I was not aware of how cops had to talk to the homeboys, but it makes sense. We have a similar thing in football coaching where a total transcript would make the coaches sound too harsh. What is missing is the 300 times we previously used less harsh language with the player in question and it did not penetrate.

Re the US Merchant Marine Academy, yes it is a good deal, apparently for the same reason we almost have no U.S.-flagged merchant marine. Maritime unions drove America out of the merchant marine business with overly high wage demands combined with federal laws supporting those demands. Cruise ships have to stop in foreign ports to avoid coming under crushing U.S. laws. I’m not sure, but I think you can’t take a cruise from say CA to HI without stopping in Ensenada, Mexico or some such.

Lots of blacks do quite well in America. But I think the inner-city “plantations” on which Sharpton, Jackson, and black elected officials are determined to keep blacks are so isolated from proper values and role models that they are utterly clueless about how they might escape or even why they should escape.

In the movie Gifted Hands about Ben Carson childhood and life, his mom is a cleaning lady for a doctor. He has a huge library in his house and the mom is impressed by his success and demeanor. She asks if he read all those books, “Most of them,” he said. (I actually think they were law books for the camera—collections of books with identical bound covers.) So the mom, who was illiterate, forced her sons to read books constantly. Close enough. Ben became a top neurosurgeon and is now running for president.

My mom was a high school grad with secretarial and retail sales clerk skills, the first high school grad in her family. She knew no one who went to college. But during WW II, she got a job at the New York Shipbuilding Corp. in Camden, NJ. There she worked with naval architects and engineers. They apparently impressed the hell out of her. My whole life growing up she kept telling me I was going to college. We rarely passed over a bridge without her telling me that engineers knew how to design the bridge so it was safe. So I went to West Point, an almost engineering school where I learned, among other things, how to design bridges.

I read about a study where social workers were embedded with two categories of families: single moms in the hood and normal affluent suburban families. They observed how the kids were raised not just in classrooms but in the home after school and on weekends. The difference was stark.

The poor moms had no clue about how to succeed in life and were like leaves blowing in the wind. The suburban parents were constantly teaching the kids about getting a good education, being polite, deferring gratification like practicing music or sports. The parents set the example and the kids had a zillion good role models in their lives. The parnets and other grown-ups in the lives of the kids knew the ropes about how to succeed.

One contrast was going to the doctor. The poor mom just took the kid and sat there mute like a POW speaking only to answer the questions of the doctors or nurses. The suburban parents would tell their child before goig to the doctor how to talk to the doctor and to ask questions about anything they wanted to know about the illness or injury.

My oldest son want to an Ivy league College as a football player. The younger two graduated from UC SAnta Barbara and Arizona.

My parents knew about “college” but they did not distinguish much. My mom and dad thought West Point was hot stuff, but they had no concept of the Ivy League. My mom put a West Point decal on her car when I was there, but when I asked if she wanted a Harvard Business School decal, she said no.

She came to both graduations, but was sort of baffled by the Harvard graduation. She seemed to sense both were great institutions but was unable to articulate feelings about the sea of well-scrubbed, well-spoken, super-confident, well-dressed, preppy, almost glowing mass of Harvard grads and families in Harvard Yard. (All of the grads of Harvard go to the same ceremony—undergrad, Law School, Business School, JFK School, etc., then they go to a second ceremony with only their school to get their diplomas. She sensed that she most definitely was not in Collingswood, NJ anymore in Harvard Yard, but I don’t think she could put her finger on what she was seeing all around her. The West Point graduation, in contrast, just seemed like the Collingswood one only with just the smart, clean-cut kids present.

By the time my sons were born, I knew the Ivy League and how useful it was and roughly how to help my son get in there. My parents had no clue about either why or how to go there. The black single moms in the hood are about a million miles behind my high school grad, Depression-era mom who knew no college grads until the shipbuilding experience.

As another WSJ column recently said, the only way to get them out of there is to get them out of there before much of their childhood has passed. The inner-city bad neighborhoods are in a death spiral amply demonstrated by Camden, NJ, my birthplace and where my mom came of age, Detroit, and a whole lot more. They welcome Baltimore to their ranks.

John T. Reed