As we in America attend to our attractions to tedium, whether it is the Casey Anthony verdict, Lil Wayne, reality TV or Niki Minaj, there are real issues that are occurring that show the seriouis economic problems this nation and its citizens are experiencing.

As Obama struggles to get the debt ceiling passed, the reality of social injustice, especially for African Americans and the economically disenfranchised, is being avoided, ignored and swept under the rug. For example, in Louisiana, a homeless man robbed a bank and took a single $100 bill. After feeling bad and even knowing the money could be used to help him find food and shelter, he returned the same bill to the Louisiana bank he took it from and surrendered to police the same day.

Roy Brown, 54, robbed the Capital One bank in Shreveport, La., in December 2007. He approached the teller and told her that it was a robbery. The teller handed Brown three stacks of bills, but he only took a single $100 bill and returned the remaining money back to her. In Caddo District Court, he pleaded guilty, and the judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison for first degree robbery.

It is a sad day in America when a person who returns something he took is punished more severely than a rapist or a murderer. True, he robbed the bank, but there was no evidence of any weapon, and no one was hurt.

It is difficult to understand. Paul R. Allen, 55, the former CEO of one of the largest privately held mortgage lenders, Ocala, Fla.-based Taylor Bean & Whitaker, received three years in prison for his role in a $3 billion scheme that officials called one of the biggest corporate fraud schemes in history.

A white man who steals $3 billion and returns none of the money gets just three years, and a black homeless man steals $100, returns it all and receives 15 years. America the Beautiful…

torrance stephens, ph.d.

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