Thursday, December 5, 2013

What's more important, Children or Corporations?

The only thing stirring at the State Capitol seems to be the Child Protective Services debacle. More than 6,000 reports to the CPS hotline that were addressed only with an administrative decision notated by two simple letters, NI. That, of course, means "not investigated."

Whatever happened to "promote the general welfare" or "provide for the common defense?" If we don't protect our children, what does that say about us?

Anyway, I've been writing about Arizona politics for more than 20 years. For more than 8 years in the 1990s, I worked in the Department of Economic Security, where CPS is administered.

A time or two back in the 1990s, in op-ed columns published in the Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette, I wrote about problems with CPS which for some odd reason are eerily similar to the problems in the news now.

Some of the suggestions made during a public forum on Tuesday evening go directly back to programs that had been implemented (Healthy Families) but apparently never adequately funded by the GOP dominated legislature.

Somebody has to say "Look, we've failed at this for decades, what we've tried has not gotten the job done. We've got to come to grips with that long-term failure in order to avoid spinning our wheels by doing the same thing over and over again." The ONLY thing that has made any sense to me coming from any lawmaker or editorialist is Laurie Roberts declaration that we need to reform CPS with a wrecking ball, not a band-aid.

All the hand wringing in the world won't fix anything or keep another child from dying a preventable death. BUT somebody with a bully pulpit needs to do a comprehensive review of news coverage of the agency, as far back as possible. A list of the dates of stories, names and ages of victims and WHAT WAS DONE about it.

The Arizona Republic HAS that kind of archival record. They need to stop with the bullshit, do this review and write a genuinely hard hitting story.


Anyway, I started writing this post to say there's not much going on at the Capitol to report. And other than CPS, that's still true.

The last update I had on the redistricting commission is that no rulings have come down on any of the three pending lawsuits. Therefore the likelihood increases every day that they will be able to make it until the regular legislative session before completely exhausting their FY2014 appropriation. Of course, the GOP dominated legislature pretended that the money was enough to last through June 2014.


I'm currently reading Jeffrey D. Clements' book, Corporations are not People.

Here are a few paragraphs from the book. The first is the last part of the foreword Bill Moyers wrote for the book, followed by the first few paragraphs of the Introduction.
...keep in mind the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, who a century ago stood up to the mighty combines of wealth and power that were buying up our government and called on Americans of all persuasions to join him in opposing the "naked robbery" of the public's trust: It is not a partisan issue; it is more than a political issue; it is a great moral issue. If we condone political theft, if we do not resent the kinds of wrong and injustice that injuriously affect the whole nation, not merely our democratic form of government but our civilization itself cannot endure. 

America's story is one of defiant struggle against the odds for an improbable vision: that all people, created and born free and equal, can live and govern together "in pursuit of happiness." This dream of a society of free people with equal rights, where people govern themselves, was unlikely indeed in the eighteenth century. In a world of empires, governed by royalty and divided by class, and in our own country, with millions enslaved, where women were considered the property of their husbands, and where land ownership was considered a prerequisite to participation in government, the pursuit -- let alone the fulfillment -- of this vision was far-fetched indeed.

Yet we Americans never let that vision go, despite dark days. In generation after generation, for more than two centuries, the power of this dream drove us and inspired the world. Despite all of the contradictions, shortcomings, missteps, and failures along the way, this American story remains true, and it is an undeniable triumph of the human spirit. Cynics and critics will have their say, but Americans really did come together to defeat the British Empire; to overthrow the evil of slavery and work for justice; to secure equal voting rights for women; to insist that everyone has an equal vote and voice; to suffer, work and fight year after year to defeat fascist, communist, fundamentalist, and totalitarian challenges to our vision of democracy, equality and freedom.
People are free. People are equal. People govern. We have lived by that and died for that, and whenever we fell short, we worked and sacrificed for that, to ensure, as Abraham Lincoln said in one of our darkest moments, "that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth."
To triumph again over powerful enemies of human equality, dignity, and freedom in our generation, we must properly identify the challenge and bring clarity of thinking and action to making our republic work again. As so often before, success and struggle begin with the simplest of propositions: Corporations are not people.

I happen to believe that the problems Arizona's dealing with regarding Child Protective Services are, in fact, related to the world view held by ruling class Republicans that corporations deserve not only the same rights but preeminence over the people. And that at its root, tolerating epidemic child endangerment is a blatant symptom of a very real threat to our civilization. By no means, is this the only imminent threat to American civilization, but it's a big one that is staring us in the face at the moment.

And while they are at it, perhaps the Republic or the Arizona Capitol Times ought to compile some statistics about how much time has been spent in legislative sessions discussing bills designed to protect children... as opposed to bills designed to protect some fat cat's tax advantage.

Bottom line, are our children just an afterthought? How long will we let that continue?

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