“We are having shortages of food at present due to the climate, COVID and tons of other reasons. So let them contribute, not burden their countrymen and make bad examples for others, especially for the youth!”
Host: During a work-related phone call with a Supreme Master Television team member on July 27, 2021, Supreme Master Ching Hai graciously took time to answer some questions regarding a few current events. As it was spontaneous, we didn’t record the conversation properly. Thus, it is not suitable for airing. We sincerely apologize and offer our respected viewers this summary, along with a voice-over reading of the transcribable parts from Master’s replies, picked up faintly in some parts by a nearby mobile phone.
VO: Upon being asked how She has been doing, Master said that She was OK but very busy, taking care of many things every day: not just Supreme Master Television, but also numerous other matters and issues, ranging from businesses to people’s varied temperaments. Master said that even with the pandemic which also affects Her ventures’ income, a lot of funds are still being given out by Her all the time, and there are many monthly and other expenses that need to be taken care of.
Master is living alone and very simply, at present in a 2 by 4 meter room. It is a space that would be sufficient in case She needed to take care of Her dogs. (Her desk is the same as how we saw it before, with all the cables and wires running all over it!)
She also mentioned that it was encouraging for Her to hear some good news from around the world. For example, the Northern and Southern parts of Korea have taken peaceful, positive steps by resuming communication and agreeing to improve ties. Also, some rich patrons invested in a new vegan production company, plus vegan food and the vegan trend are growing so fast! Master then asked if there were any other questions.
Q(m): Yes, there are. In California, a law called Proposition 47 requires some certain serious crimes to be charged as less serious ones, with the consequence that criminals are openly committing acts of theft without fear of prosecution. For example, one would have to steal over US$950 of goods from a store to commit a felony and thus have the police be interested in arresting the suspect. Below this amount, it is a misdemeanor and not considered worth the time of the police and prosecutors to arrest and convict the individual. What does Master think of this law?
VO: Master answered that even misdemeanors, meaning minor crimes like theft, are unlawful, and could lead to worse, more serious felonies.
(Investigators say Joseph Espinoza and his accomplices pulled up in an SUV, trying to rob Nick and his friend as they stood outside, before Espinoza allegedly fired several shots.) (He was shot in the back of the head, running away.) (Just hours before the deadly shooting, Fresno Police say officers found Espinoza and his friend, Jose Figueroa, in a room at Motel 6 on North Blackstone. They arrested Figueroa on gun charges and found methamphetamine on Espinoza.) (But instead of being booked into jail for a felony, under Proposition 47, he was issued a misdemeanor citation for that charge.) (Prop 47 did kill my son.)
VO: Thus, governments should not be encouraging lawless behavior, which might cause other states’ or countries’ people to think that misdemeanors are acceptable. Also, after the California law was implemented, many small businesses and people have suffered from an increase in thefts; in some worse cases, businesses were forced to close, maybe due to fear of attack, and loss of income. Master said this is not right and so She does not agree with this law.
In Master’s words: “… They take anything they want and run out. (Yes.) Just like that. That is not a good example for anybody. (No.) Especially for the children. You see that. (That’s right.) Maybe the prison is full, but they can build another kind of prison. (Yes.) Don’t have to keep moving them to the extremist prison. They can build a more simple prison for the very light kind of misdemeanors, they call it, right? (Yes, misdemeanor.) And then make a job in there, create a business to sell, to give them work. (Yes.) … (Yes, that’s right.) Make kind of a company, and all the misdemeanor people have to work there to earn their keep.” (Yes.)
(We take the freedom from them, but when they are here, we try to help them, to get better citizens.) (Inmates have a normal work week, giving them routine and responsibilities. Training to be car mechanics, and graphic designers in a state-of-the-art studio.) (From the City Hall, we’re getting jobs from them.) (Learning skills like restaurant prep (where they’re trusted to handle knives) can help them get jobs on the outside.) (Before, I’d think more like a criminal. But now I start to think more like a normal guy.)
In Master’s words: “They cannot, just because the prison is full, tell people to go out and steal. That is against society’s principle. That will lower people’s dignity, and create a chaotic, unsafe living environment. You cannot just live freely, stealing people’s property like that. And then in the meantime, you are even defunding the police, telling people to not buy guns and all that. No wonder crimes soared up. Because it is all contradictory. The business owners have to pay taxes, have to pay their employees, employees’ insurance, bonuses, vacations, etc. (Right.) They also have their families, children to take care of too! They must pay for all kinds of insurance, mortgages, school fees, and hundreds of other things. The government is responsible for the poor, not shoving this burden to private citizens, who already contribute for this through tax payment! How can they live being robbed anytime without protection from the police and authorities!? (Yes.) On top of that, they are not allowed to have guns for defense. (Not that I support guns, but the poor hapless people will be forced to resort to this means of defense, thus create a more beyond-control violent society!!!) It’s absolutely against logic, morals and any society’s safety standard.
I hope they will change this harmful law! I mean, people have to survive. (Yes.) I mean the good people, the hardworking kind. (That’s right.) The backbone of society… Shop owners risking their capital to open a business, they must earn their money. And if the shop’s items are always being stolen like that, the business will be out, then consequently the employees, the good kind of people, will be fired. And then he has no money, and then what to do? Copy that thief. (Yes.) Maybe because they have no job. Or maybe because they say, ‘Oh, what the heck, why not?’ (Yes.) They work very hard. And that guy who does nothing, can come in and take everything he likes. ‘Why the heck I don’t do the same?’ See what I’m saying? (That’s right.) It’s a very bad, bad, bad example. Don’t you think so?” (I agree, I mean it creates like a ripple effect.) “Yeah!” (If one person does it, the others think, “Ah, it’s OK.” And this is not good.) “Sure! Even in Europe they saw all of that.” (Yes.)
“It has this very bad reputation, for whatever county of the United States, or state, or country. You cannot teach people to be immoral and bad, and then expect the whole nation to be safe and sound! Especially the USA, the country that people look up to! Imagine being called the country of thieves! What an ‘honorable’ name for its citizens! (Yes.) Suppose the thieves came into any of these lawmakers’ homes. I don’t think the lawmakers would be welcoming and say, ‘OK, take my daughter’s bicycle, take my son’s computer. (Right.) Take my best suit. Help yourself, take anything you want, they’re less than US$950.’ I don’t think any of these lawmakers would do that. (No.)
It’s not just about the stolen goods, but about how long can any shop owner keep their cool over this. And then one day, he might lose it. And then there will be more violence. It’s about people’s peace and people’s lives. Can you see that clearly?” (Yes.) How long can any shop owner afford it? Without businesses, there will be no taxes for the government to exist. So the Proposition 47 law is just like biting the hands that feed them.”
(Mr. Lý is the manager at the Mobile Mart on Union and 19th Street downtown. He also dabbles in criminal art, with a portrait of shoplifters on his wall. But he says it’s gotten much worse the past two years.) (We just caught another one!) (Like when? Today?) (Yeah, about 10 minutes ago.) (He has dozens of video clips of people trying to slip items into their pockets and pants. However, Mr. Lý believes he’s only catching about 20% of them.) (How often do people come in and create problems in the store?) (Every day. Every single day.) (It’s not an exaggeration. While the interview was underway, customers were filling their pockets with merchandise and just walking out of the store.) (Is shoplifting an issue?) (Oh, yeah. They decriminalized petty theft in California. So, it happens every few minutes. Literally in our store, probably 15-20 times a day.) (20 times a day?) (Oh, yeah.) (Businesses say rampant and brazen thefts, many tied to larger criminal fencing operations, are escalating at a rate they’ve never seen before, people walking out of big and small stores with whatever they want.) (That Walgreens over there got marked as a store that you could walk in and steal stuff.)
In Master’s words: “And another thing: American people are well known for their generosity and giving charity. It is even reported that America donated the most for charity causes throughout the world. It’s one thing to give voluntarily with love. But it’s another thing to be robbed and just stand by helplessly like that. (Yes.) This really is abuse. And the people who come in to steal, how do we know they are poor and needy? They may not be. Because the police don’t check, nobody dares to check them. They are lawfully criminal… (Right.) Lawmakers live in safety and comfort anyway; completely different from ordinary, working-class people. They just want to have a good guy name, and they want to forget the poor like this. They are eating well and don’t really care. And then the youth will think all this thieving is OK (Yes.): ‘I don’t need to work extra to buy that CD, when I can just go in and take anything from a store. Nobody will do anything. They will just film me, but they won’t do anything about it.’ (Yes.) If this law continues, the shop owner won’t have any more income, he’ll become poor – and then what? Become a thief. And that breeds one more thief in society.
Even in a communist society, the government tells people not to go out and steal, to not just take from others like that. The communists don’t do that. (That’s right.) With this kind of law, society will go down. Some people just don’t want to work and have to pay for things. Then the shop owner will be forced to close shop and maybe forced into stealing, adding one more thief to society, because of this kind of law.”
(Walgreens has already closed some stores in San Francisco, citing theft problems, and last week, confirmed it’s closing another location in Oakland due to ongoing organized retail crime.)
In Master’s words: “I told you I will not mince my words anymore. People have to know. Even if America is rotten, I say this for the rest of the world. Look at the church, the Roman Catholic Church, how nobody said anything and they covered up all the abuse. Children were killed. (Yes.) Everywhere, from the church to the government, they are rotten. They’re working for Satan. I tell you I am an angry Master. I’m an angry vegan Master.
This law will just breed more violence. People today will steal things for US$900, and then tomorrow it will be more, US$2,000. There will never be an end to people’s greed if you just let them loose like that. Normally, people will not think of stealing. If it is so easy just to go into any store and take things like that, then there is no use of opening shop anymore. (Right.) It’s too tempting for even the good ones. In the long run, the whole nation will be encouraged to be thieves because it’s too easy to get things for free and not have to work. Since more than a year especially, already the people in America have to suffer, because of arson, because of burning houses, because of looting businesses from big shot-encouraged protesters.”
(People will do what they do.) (Oh, my!) (I don’t think that’s fair for us because we are small business owners.) (The store was broken into two more times. Each time, Williams had to come out of his own pocket to restock.) (A lot of my own people say, “Oh, she ain’t to worry about that, she’s got insurance.” People don't know how insurance works. I haven’t got paid for insurance yet.) (In some cases, buildings were burned, never to reopen, or remain boarded up months later while owners try to recoup their losses.) (So far, I think we’ve lost about ten businesses.) (I’d never seen violence like that before. They ended up pulling my mom out of the car and they attacked her, and they broke her leg, and they broke her nose.) (It’s not clear if her parents will ever feel safe enough to reopen their humble neighborhood shop.)
In Master’s words: “Because of COVID-19, many businesses had to close already. And then if they have to suffer like this, it is truly… I don’t know if anybody dares to open a business anymore. Then where will we go to buy our stuff? We have to respect business people, shop owners. For all their hard work, for our convenience.” (Yes, that’s right.) … They should solve the economic problem, not just avoid the crowded prisons or playing the good guy, caring not about how hard-working taxpayers must face hardship, danger daily, fending for themselves in a fearful, lawless country.
Make other prisons different from them. Let them all work there and work in the garden. (Yes.) Even plant vegetables, make an organic farm. Plant, and sell. (Yes.) And enjoy. We are having shortages of food at present due to the climate, COVID and tons of other reasons. So let them contribute, not burden their countrymen and make bad examples for others, especially for the youth!”
(In Finland, many detainees are sent to low-security facilities, where they interact with the local community, have jobs, and prepare a smooth return to society.) (About one-third of the prisoners work outside for the National Forestry Commission. Others work in civilian jobs as long as they have authorization. And the rest work here, on-site.) (Part of that site is the prison farm.) (Do you think a prison like this will stop you (from) committing crime in the future?) (Oh, yeah! It’s good, the system here is good because they treat you differently. They want you to be a better person for the future. So they give you an opportunity.) (Every indicator shows that, yes, it works better.) (With some of the lowest rates of crime and incarceration in Europe, prison reformers often look to Finland as an example.) (The food produced here actually goes back in to feed inmates and can feed staff. And the inmates are actually doing the work too. They’re doing all the hard work out here.) (Corrections officials believe this farm is a great training ground for inmates, who may pursue agricultural work after their release. Also, between crop production and a composting project, this facility saves taxpayers about US$400,000 a year.)
In Master’s words: “No meat. Right now, especially right now. We should not. It will be something to be proud of, that will keep their dignity. (Yes, of course.) Nobody will treat them like they’re bad, a thief, and shunning them like a plague, an infecting virus, (Right.) like a problem. And they will be good if getting help that way.”