MANSFELD: Lottery Dreams

The chances of you winning the Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot (currently well over a billion dollars) are 302,575,350 to 1. You’d have a better chance of getting hit by lightning (on a clear day), being swallowed by a whale (while on dry land), or getting abducted by space aliens (in spite of not living in Arizona) than coming up with the winning number combination.

But, as suckers all over the country are wont to say, “Hey, someone’s going to win.”

Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop people from blue-skying — ruminating about what they would do if, by chance, they did win. In fact, at dinner the other night my wife and I engaged in a bit of this type of thinking and planning

Of course (after having a lawyer friend claim the prize so that no one would know we were the winners, and then hiring a financial advisor) we would parcel out monies to all of our family members — and tell them that under no circumstances are they to come back for more — which naturally wouldn’t stop some of them from eventually hitting us up again, and maybe again.

Then we would set up a foundation to manage the remaining money so that it could do good works for far into the future — indeed, into infinity. We’d never touch the principal; we’d only use the interest to fund our projects.

And all of the projects we came up with have to do with some form of education. First, we would set up a project similar to the Harlem Children’s Zone, where new mothers are mentored and taught how to raise their offspring. The difference is, we would pay them a stipend to become part of the program. We would then set up a program that paid families to read to their children on a regular basis and provide tutors for the parents that have difficulty reading themselves. We would also pay them to take particular care to provide proper healthcare for the kids. No cheating allowed, verification would be mandatory. We’re not total suckers.

Then we would purchase the building at 22nd and Central Avenue, the old Juvenile Detention Home, renovate it, and turn it into a boarding school for boys whose parents want to get them out of the gang-infested neighborhoods they currently live in. The fact is, in many of the neighborhoods, no matter how hard a parent might try to keep their child from being sucked into the criminal culture, they simply are not going to be successful.

Few young males in these kinds of environments have the fortitude to avoid and resist the gangs; they either have to join or risk being beaten up going to or from school. Parents, no matter how well-meaning and dedicated, can’t be with their teenage sons at all times. So until we can get rid of the gangs, our goal would be to get the kids who want to do the right thing out of their reach, out of the ’hood.

When parents with the financial wherewithal begin having problems with their boys, they send them off to military or boarding school; the goal would be to establish such an option for kids from poorer families.

Would all of the above solve all of the problems plaguing Cleveland’s inner city youth? No. But it would be a start. Our goal would be to establish a national model, one that could be replicated across the country. We can all dream, right?

But sorry, I gotta run, I’m off to buy a fist full of Mega Millions lottery tickets.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.

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