Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Nov. 14

Government protects our public interest

The left and right insult each other as fascist or socialist. But this is much ado about nothing. A healthy democracy embraces both elements of left and right.

Socialism and capitalism coexist in the American economy. We are at best when the private sector is regulated by the public interest.

In the late 19th century, unregulated robber barons hoarded the nation’s wealth. There were food riots in the streets. Then Republican Teddy Roosevelt instituted anti-trust regulations against corporate greed. Today’s Republicans would call him a socialist.

Again, unregulated corporato-cracy ruined us in the ’20s, necessitating FDR’s public intervention. In the 1950s, Republican Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated an ideal balance between public and private interests: higher taxes on the wealthy, strong labor unions, and a distribution of wealth that vitalized our middle class. Many Republicans now would call Ike a socialist.

In recent decades, Reaganomics has again destroyed the balance, deregulating corporations and banks, gutting labor unions and blowing a bubble of Wall Street wealth for the top 2 percent, a bubble consisting of other people’s debts. Government re-regulation is required.

When will Americans get it? The invisible hand of the free market is NOT the hand of God. Government protects our public interest.

We will continue to suffer as long as we swallow the two big lies:

1. That a nation can survive without taxing wealth.

2. That government is THEM, when in fact it is WE the people.

Budget cuts put public at risk

Budget crises continue to hurt service levels for state, county and city governments. Our elected leaders have to prioritize how limited dollars are allocated. The core mission of government is public safety and health.

Mandated services take precedence. The public is unaware that some of those public safety mandates are being adapted during this financial downtown.

The Department of Corrections has a mandate of offender accountability. Accountability is greatly in question. At the directive of the governor and Legislature almost 9,000 offenders have been dropped from supervision.

An objective risk tool that still has some kinks to work out is one of the fundamental instruments used to remove an offender from supervision. The tool is not designed to necessarily measure domestic violence, DWI and mental health risks. Regardless of compliance status, offender supervision is terminated. Corrections has implemented another cost-saving measure by not arresting those who violate conditions of probation.

Two years ago, the governor stated that offender accountability and public safety were her priorities. What has happened? Reducing prisons and significantly cutting community supervision services should be unacceptable even in this economic climate. It seems impossible that legislation that placed 9,000 offenders on supervision is reconfigured with Senate Bill 5288 that deems them a lower risk.

Recognizing personnel cuts are the most understandable method to address budget shortfalls, public safety should be the last place any government looks to save money. Be aware of all cost cutting measures — namely those that put the public at risk.