Thursday, February 20, 2014

“Happy Endings” – and how much are these law enforcement panty raids costing us?

I keep thinking I am not going to be so opinionated, and then something else comes up – like grandiosely extravagant law enforcement panty raids. I am still not sure I got it all straight.

First, there was a big, as in major law enforcement operation in Madison, Alabama, which is a bedroom community to Huntsville. From the looks of things, Madison really is a bedroom community – an active one at that. They had this major criminal type investigation, which culminated in a raid, to crack down on the kind of crimes that people tend to do in the bedroom, with money involved. Then they plastered the pictures of the people they arrested all over the news.

I never in my life thought I’d be writing about such, but let’s get a grip here. Alabama is among the poorest states in the whole country, we are among the least healthy, the least educated, and we make less money. At the same time, we have some of the largest numbers on public assistance, which makes sense, considering the other. We are also third in the nation for the most people locked up behind bars, and this is in the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, that pretty much means we are number three, or right at it – in the whole world. Louisiana is number one, in the world, but it gets a little murky with us and Mississippi on the world level. At any rate, they have the second highest incarceration rate in the country, and we are number three behind them.

Not to be outdone though, Alabama has the most overpopulated prison system in the country, which pretty much means we are arresting people faster than we have jail and prison space to handle them. Alabama is already under Federal orders to do something about the overcrowding. At least we are at the top in something.

It is clear that with all those folks we got locked up in the South, we are among the most degenerate people on the planet. We also happen to “supposedly” be the most religious people in this  country, the heart of what is known as the Bible Belt. Talk about some oxymorons – the most degenerate and the most religious.

The other day, I was having a discussion with some folks, who were going on about the crime rate increasing in Alabama and we needed to get tough on crime, clean things up in these parts. And we already have the most overcrowded prison system in the whole country. Where are we going to put them and what are the heinous crimes that the people who haven’t been arrested yet supposedly committing.

The light bulb is now on. First, I figured, well, maybe it was a slow news day, so that is why they got so much coverage for busting up the shenanigans between a hooker and her customers out in Madison. I somehow understood how the TV stations would cover such, sort of, but not really, and then it was on I was scratching my head at them, mostly because they generally have a high level of coverage and this whole thing was bordering on front-page National Inquirer material. At that point, I didn’t quite realize the level of what was going on in Alabama.

It got me thinking though. I started wondering how many taxpayer dollars it actually took to pull off a raid like the one in Madison. I don't actually know the answer. You have to consider the investigation time, hours logged, equipment, etc. Also, how much money is going to change hands? How much money is that raid going to bring into the system; there’s bail that needs to be made, lawyers that take a chunk, guards, facilities to lock them up, we could probably double the prison space in Alabama and still not have enough, and they got to eat, and those prison phone calls. The FTC has already been onto that, phone calls from jail are some of the highest priced phone calls in the country. Anyway, there is a lot of money in crime, and I am not talking about what the ones in handcuffs are making.

So I tried to digest all that. Then the next time I check the news, it’s Birmingham. Our neighbors down the road were not to be outdone in their own efforts to combat crime, or to generate all the attention they could possibly generate in the process. They went after the “HappyEnding” special at the VIP Spa.

Now those folks know how to get some attention. Best I can tell, they all dressed in full gear and called every news outlet in town to come out for the raid. They probably weren’t too worried about a lot of gunfire on that one, you got to know your criminals, so everybody came out for the photo op. There were pictures galore; a crime raid in process, good guys and bad guys both, girls, actually women. To tell you the truth, I am not sure which was which, good or bad I mean, but in any case, it was the culmination of a “major criminal investigation.” You’d think somebody had been stealing from little old ladies, or robbing banks, or raping folks in nursing homes, foreclosing on people’s houses illegally perhaps, maybe a serial killer, or two.

Well, no, it was a bunch of middle-age men taking advantage of the “Happy Ending” special at the local VIP Spa. I did a little checking around, never could figure if it was a chain or what, but evidently there are other VIP Spas in other areas, and some of the others have also had a few run ins with the law, mostly about some version of that “Happy Ending” thing, for which they seem to be famous. And people can say, well, we don’t want such as that in our neighborhood, but you know what? If nobody shows up for those “Happy Ending” specials, they will go out of business and leave, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. 

And it is not that I condone these activities, or in any way approve, it is just that I can think of a very long list of better ways to spend our tax dollars than chasing folks who are in some way or another involved in either purchasing or providing “Happy Ending” specials. Mostly, I don’t give a rat’s behind either way. If it doesn’t affect me in some way, or nobody is getting hurt, I really do not care what other people do in the privacy of their bedroom or some back room. Most people don’t.

I do care when my tax dollars get wasted in the process though. And it is not as if we are all living the good life, for all practical purposes, Alabama is poor, kind of low on the socio-economic scale. If we had a lot of extra cash to throw around, I could understand it, maybe. Actually, I still can’t, but at this point in the history of our state, we flat don’t have a lot of spare change, and spending it grandstanding on law enforcement panty raids is just about as big a waste of our already scarce resources as I can think of.

Every day, I hear somebody ranting and raving about how they don’t want their tax dollars going to help lazy poor people, or lazy sick poor people, or feeding poor kids in school. They are all about how they don’t want their tax dollars going to help whatever poor person they are ranting and raving about that day.

I will tell you what I don’t want my tax dollars going for, I don’t want my tax dollars going toward policing folks in their behind closed doors bedroom activities, and I don’t appreciate the fact that I am now apparently paying to regulate these “Happy Ending” specials. There was some mention that trafficking might be suspected as being involved in the Birmingham case, in which case, if they were there to rescue somebody, I am not sure why they led them away with their hands tied up behind their back. That is some kind of heroic rescue. (Update: No evidence of trafficking was found and charges were filed.)

It seems to me, if nobody is being abused and everybody is agreeable as to what is going on, the government does not belong in folks’ bedroom. I do not want my tax dollars to be wasted on this kind of mess. I don’t know who in their right mind would. But somebody has spent a wad of cash on these raids, and that wad of cash is coming out of the taxpayers’ wallet, and that is just the start of what it is going to cost the citizens of this state, or the people who just had their lives turned upside down, in Birmingham and Madison both. At this point anyway, I don’t know that anybody involved was actually hurting another single person on this whole planet. And I can’t see as how any of it does much of anybody a lick of good, except maybe the folks getting a paycheck for pulling it off. We already know what the prohibition laws (alcohol and marijuana both) did for us with law enforcement types worried about their job security and looking for somebody to arrest. No wonder they were wearing ski masks. I guess I didn’t mention the ski masks.

And I know people talk about Christian values and this being the Bible Belt, but I don’t recall Jesus spending a whole lot of time persecuting prostitutes; actually, some of his best friends were prostitutes. So don’t go blaming this one on the Bible. Prostitution is the oldest profession, still going strong, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. The thing is, you can do it fifty times a day if you want to, as long as no money is involved. And there are all kinds of grey areas when you get down to such, shacking up, helping each other out, payback for that lovely dinner out, and it goes on and on.

Folks aren’t always the way folks in politics like to make them out either, or the way it comes out in the news, to justify what they do to people’s lives. This one prostitute I knew way back when I was in college, looking back, no matter what a person might say about such, she was one of the hardest working people I ever knew. I don’t think anybody who ever knew her could have ever said she was other than a good person. She had kids, a husband who didn’t show up much, and she worked at the same restaurant as me.

If you think the difference in men and women’s pay is outrageous now, go back a few decades. She didn’t make near enough to support the family, so she “supplemented” her income. I didn’t think a whole lot about it at the time. I don’t think anybody else did either. Nobody I knew gave much of a rat’s behind what other people did in the bedroom. The other minor detail though is that most of her regular customers were on the local police force. That was a long time ago though. Things sure have changed, now it’s all over the news what people are doing in the bedroom. Also makes you wonder what goes on during those investigations.

I sure did some thinking when I noticed the pictures of those police officers in Birmingham, BPD's Vice and Narcotics Unit, ICE and the FBI were all there. Back in my day, criminals and bank robbers wore ski masks. You’d see pictures in the paper of some criminal that had been robbing banks, or some such, and likely as not, they would show a picture of a man in a ski mask. Now the police are the ones in ski masks, not all of them, but some sure were. Look at the gallery.

It seems to me, if they were proud of what they were doing, they would not have been putting on those ski masks. They would have been holding their head high. And I am not even blaming the police on this one; they were just doing their job, following orders. It seems to me though, the police used to be the most esteemed members of the community. Now, they are the ones wearing the ski masks.

And I am not saying that I think all this stuff is right, or that I am into it or any such. What I am saying is I don’t think it is the place of law enforcement and our government to legislate what folks do in the bedroom, or the back room either for that matter.

And don’t get me wrong, if an underage person is involved, I think you should throw the book at the freaking pimp and the person who paid for the services. If somebody has been raped, somebody needs to be doing some hard time. If children were involved, lock the ones who were behind it up for life, and I mean don’t ever let them out. *If there really was trafficking involved in the Birmingham case, that needs to be handled appropriately, the punishment harsh, and the individuals who were trafficked need to get the help they need and some social services too. But if is a matter of adults behind closed doors doing whatever the two of them have mutually agreed that they want to be doing, for whatever reason, including money, leave them alone.

This state has enough problems, I really would like to see Alabama get ahead, be the great state that some of us really do know that it is. We got too many real problems; we don’t need to be wasting our tax dollars on this mess. And yes, it’s a mess, but wasting the hard-earned tax dollars of the people of this state on such as this, especially with the way things are with the economy, and all the real problems we got, is a whole lot bigger crime than the mess they were grandstanding about cleaning up.

I’d rather see a little more money go toward education. Actually, I’d like to see a lot more money go toward education, and a lot of other things that could do the state and the people in it some good. My vote is to get the government out of folk’s bedrooms and send the bill on this one to whoever thought it was a good idea. I do not appreciate my tax dollars being spent on this kind of shenanigans.

*Update: No evidence of trafficking was found and charges were filed.

Copyright 2014 Regina Garson
All rights reserved.


  1. Don't forget the 4th least happy state! I agree, priorities in this state are off.

  2. I didn't know about the least happy, but with all the other, it would make sense. Kind of sad though.