Economy Families

Life, Death…..& Childcare


I’ll likely write something a bit later about the fight over California AG Jerry Brown’s push
yesterday to do away with the federal receiver who’s overseeing California’s broken prison health care system….

….But, in the meantime there’s the terrible Wilmington murder/suicide of the Lupoes and their five kids.

The news came out last night that Ervin and Ana Lupoe lost their jobs as medical techs at Kaiser Permanente hospital because they allegedly forged a supervisor’s signatures in order to qualify for low cost child care.

The firing, as we now know, appears to have begun a chain of events that ended in a bounced check to the IRS, a mortgage headed toward default, and finally to a boxed-in state of mind that is suspected to have led Ervin Lupoe to shoot his wife and kids and then himself.

Theirs was, from what the Kaiser Permanente folks are saying, a righteous firing. One cannot have employees forging signatures—-for any reason.

But that the Lupoes took the risk of (allegedly) committing fraud……merely to get affordable childcare for their five kids? (Who are now, not incidently, dead.)

How much sadder can the story possibly get?

I’m not sure what, if anything, all this signifies beyond the simple fact of the tragedy. But it cannot be anything good.


PS: I am purposedly not commenting on this story. But I’ll be watching as it unfolds—as it assuredly will.


  • C: But that the Lupoes took the risk of (allegedly) committing fraud……merely to get affordable childcare for their five kids?

    Millions of other parents did NOT forge names and kill their families over child care.

    I think that a mother and father who both have jobs as medical techs with a combined income of $160,000 annually could afford child care for their own kids. They sure had enough money for a major remodeling of their home. In my estimation, they were trying to cheat the system and maybe taxpayers for the reason of greed rather than noble motives. The dad was also crazy besides being dishonest.

    But, yes, in the Celeste world, society and government are to blame for every tragedy, and one tragedy is enough to stir emotion for “something to be done” by them, even if it makes no sense.

    It’s time to cut out the emotion and start using the left-side of your brain.

  • Society in America is screw up, government and all. That is why we are in this econ. mess. This keep up with the Jones’s attitude that we must yearlly have a new car a new gadget, oh must have this years spring summer fall winter clothing as well as the following year and the next, just crazy.
    You should be ashamed of yourself for not making it in this land of milk and honey, for not haveing the American dream, give me a break! other cultures much older value life not materials, in India one is not seen as a failure but is seen as repaying Karma. most important he is seen. how meny times do we walk by homeless and not even see them, same for disabled peeps. do we really have to spare ourselves the heartach. is this why people in the states put elderly folks in homes.
    A real man is one who strugles and does’nt give up not one who has the balls to kill!
    I understand the psychology, its at best narrow minded.

  • Woody, and Kooly,

    I’m not suggesting anyone else is to blame. Obviously the husband and wife in this family were screwed up. Plus they’d just done a renovation on their house that left them no cushion, which clearly they should not have done. I’m just saying it struck me as hideously sad. And, I’m afraid, presages more sadness to come.

  • There’s something odd about this story – assuming they were full-time Kaiser employees – because I’m fairly certain Kaiser provides good health care coverage as an employee benefit. Sounds like they were pretty high-combine-income folks with decent benefits angling for some slight additional freebie advantage and it blew up in their face. I also find it creepy when folks who (apparently) are totally out of the eligibility-necessity range for these programs try to take advantage of them, because such agencies are almost always already strapped. What happened to the wife and kids is horrendous and utterly tragic – but this man is more deserving of utter contempt for what he selfishly set rolling, risked and finally did as an “out” than any sympathy. I guess there’s some generic “sympathy” for anyone who comes to a bad end or commits unspeakable acts, but when i start picking and choosing, this sick, murdering bastard isn’t on my list.

  • You’re right, of course,that the story in it’s entirety is horribly sad and tragic. My main point was that their employer and what I would presume to be their benefit structure makes the health care angle seem very odd and atypical in the context of folks who really are at the breaking point to cover the cost of health care.

  • I was not suggesting blame on anyone. Ultimatly it is upto oneself to be conscience of what we learn. Awareness of thought is what i ask for. Having some psychology classes have helped me understand this murderous evil in wich i was engulfed in the Aliso Village Pj’s.

  • People lets make one thing very clear, whenever the laws of any state are broken, a duly authorized organization swings into action. It may be called the State Police, State Troopers, Militia, the Rangers or the Highway Patrol.

  • This couple were BOTH terminated for some kind of fraud/ theft, sounds like forgery involving money, although Kaiser naturally can’t say for legal reasons. Then the man blames a Kaiser employee for giving him the idea of going to blow his brains out, AND adds that it’s really the wife’s idea. Yeah, this all happens to come after they blew a wad redoing their house, and struggling to raise “5 kids under the age of 8,” as he writes in the suicide note.

    Personal responsibility, anyone? Besides CHOOSING to redo their house, they CHOSE to have so many kids and CHOSE to finance it with some kind of fraud — which would have made it hard to get good references for another job. NONE OF THIS IS CAUSE TO BLAME OUR NATION’S LACK OF POLICIES ON AFFORDABLE/ FREE CHILDCARE. I happen to agree it would be a good thing to have to make it easier for anyone who wants to work, to do so, as in some countries — it’s cheaper than welfare or letting the kids roam the street as many do now, especially in L. A. where too many join gangs or become latchkey kids.

    BUT no one made these people have kids they can’t afford to take care of properly — the more educated women among us tend to have one or two kids even when we can afford more, because we are rational enough to know that it’s about CHOOSING what quality of life we want for ourselves and our kids. Humans don’t need to “breed” indiscriminately, they need to make rational choices. If their religious views require them to throw birth control to the winds, let their religious institutions take care of the consequences.

    You’ve outdone yourself here, Celeste, by making such a direct cause-effect chain of blame and consequences where it’s totally illogical and in facts reflects nothing more than the ideological mindset of the observer. You’re smarter than that, Celeste.

  • You know, WBC, if you’d only posted the first three paragraphs and left out the last one pointed at Celeste, one could accept your remarks as a strong statement of your beliefs/views on this tragedy. All fairly intelligent, and duly noted. But, you’re attributing things to Celeste she didn’t say.

    Here’s the last couple lines of the lead comment:

    “How much sadder can the story possibly get?
    I’m not sure what, if anything, all this signifies beyond the simple fact of the tragedy. But it cannot be anything good.”

    Where’s the “… direct cause-effect chain of blame…”?

  • That doesn’t answer my question. But I’ll take your remarks @ 9:27pm and assume you’d have titled this column differently.

  • WBC, (sigh), I didn’t mean anything beyond what I said.

    You’re projecting.

    I suppose you could, if you work at it, read something into my scrawl on the photo, in which I was musing rather vaguely about whether anything could have been done to prevent what happened. After all, we have a bunch of dead little kids who did exactly nothing wrong.

    The childcare detail simply struck me as sad.

    The Lupoes don’t appear to be any kind of victims, except of their own unwise choices. As it has been noted repeatedly by any number of commentators, there are a whole lot of people in this country, who have spent right up to the limit of their income and, in many cases, well beyond. So when things go south, they’re in bad shape. The Lupoes likely fell into that category.

    My intention with this post was merely to contemplate a tragedy and to wonder about its implications.

    I wasn’t making any kind of big point, to be honest. It was late at night and, rather than do a fully blown post, I thought I’d simply open the discussion on this story that was so much in the news.

    Read what you want into it. But that’s the truth.

    PS: In classical dramatic terms, “tragedy” usually involves the downfall of a protagonist through a combination of his or her own hubris and fate.

    Seems like the Lupoe’s story fits.

  • Seems to me when the three and only descriptive nouns in a thread’s heading are “Life, Death…& Childcare,” you’re making a direct linkage, and clearly implied cause & effect. That’s certainly the convention of what story headings mean. If you just threw it together late at night without thought, I can accept that, but it’s not me who’s “reading into” it.

    And thanks for the lesson on classical lit and hubris as the typical downfall of a tragic character, but maybe insanity or some psychosis is more like it. In addition, hubris is typically one aspect of refusal to take personal responsibility, but that’s something different from being a mass murderer who kills his kids and blames his wife and a company employee for giving him the idea — that’s downright sociopathic. Maybe also manic-depressive and who knows what else — we can speculate, but the point is, it’s more to do with HIM and he’s not some sort of Everyman who’s been somehow “made” to do this by society or others.

    And sorry, Celeste, but this isn’t the first time you say something and then (as with strongly implying that society is responsible for some gangbanger teen’s fate, when it was his parents’, or strongly implying that some crooked cops are to blame for a witness’s murder when there are other more compelling factors in that tragedy — or would you call it something else if there’s no hubris involved, or is that the cop’s hubris…) when some of us with different political perspectives take umbrage, you claim that you never meant it. There are a number of such cases some other readers can recall as well and if, like one of your commenters, I had infinite time and desire to sit here and research all previous posts, I’d cut and paste these instances in.

  • WBC, you’re right. The fault is indeed mine. But, at those times, it is not a failure to write honestly, but a failure to write clearly, usually when I’m overtired.

    I’m not excusing this, by the way.

    Then, when the thing is (justifiably) misinterpreted, I try to make up for the fuzziness in the comment section.

    Actually, you’ve convinced me. Next time, if a post is undercooked, I’m going to go to bed and finish it in the morning.

    This Lupoe thing was undercooked. Sorry about that.

  • Thanks for that, Celeste — it takes a generous-hearted person to admit such things, and that you always have been. Which is why those of us who often disagree with you still like and respect you — you literally put your heart and efforts where your mouth is, unlike most liberals. (Or people of any bent.)

    I’m sure you were reacting to the first soundbites which came out of the scene, like from councilwoman Janice Hahn. While it’s good to remind people that they need to prepare themselves mentally in case of layoffs and so on, this guy was not exactly the best general poster boy for the issue, the more we learned about the situation and him.

  • Sandy Banks has a piece in today’s Times with exactly this slant on the Ervin Lupoe story, and wonder if she was reading YOU because it’s so eerily similar. Normally I like her takes on things but I think it’s a mistake here to turn this guy into Everyman whose middle-class lifestyle was cut out from under him by “an unforgiving economy” as she puts it.

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