The REAL Welfare Queens: The Overbearing, Election-Buying, Congress-Owning, Almighty Money Changers of the Temple of Greed

Note: I first published this post almost two years ago. We’re coming to the end of the legislative session here in Oklahoma, plus I have quite a few personal and family issues to deal with. I’m going to re-blog a few posts from the past this week, along with a few others that will be short, but more timely. I hope you enjoy them.

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Let’s talk for a moment about people who feel “entitled” to government hand-outs.

I don’t mean those sad souls who come to the legislature in their wheelchairs begging pathetically not to be put out of their group homes. I also don’t mean the sprightly retirees who want to be able to buy food and pay their utilities, both in the same month.

No. I mean the overbearing, election-buying, Congress-owning, almighty money changers who hire the lobbyists, pay for the campaigns and control the think tanks and Chambers of Commerce. I mean those folks who send their lobbyists (who make more money in a year than most of the people reading this will make in a lifetime) to elected officials with already drafted legislation that they want the legislator to “author.”

This special interest legislation has been crafted by well-paid “public policy experts” to give the moneyed class unfair advantage over their business competitors, control of vast parts of the government treasury and tax cuts that will protect their ever-increasing wealth on a generational basis.

That’s who I mean: The REAL welfare queens; the ultimate parasites who are draining the life blood out of the American economy so they can add it to their hoard.

These are the people who make money out of the wars in which our children fight and die. They are the ones who benefit when American jobs and American industry are shipped overseas. They buy almost every election. They control the majority of the elected officials in both parties. Our government functions for them. It has become government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation.

No one tracks the amount of money that goes to corporate welfare. It’s like pouring water into sand. We pass laws with a strategic sentence here or there, or in some cases whole bills, that are designed to benefit the people who paid for the expensive political campaigns that got these office holders where they are in the first place. The money we just spent on crony capitalism vanishes into the pockets of our pals and no one but the recipients knows how much it was or where it ultimately went.

Consider that while we have an admitted national debt in excess of $1 trillion, the Cato Institute says that we are shelling out an annual $100 billion on corporate welfare this year. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal hikes the estimate to $200 billion. That’s a $100 billion dollar mystery. For all we know, it might be many times more. In fact, considering how most of this money is hidden inside other pieces of legislation, and that no one keeps track of it, it almost certainly is many times higher.

The figures we have, outrageous as they seem, are just a nip out of the bottle of what actual corporate welfare costs. But their very nebulousness indicates quite clearly how little we really know about what we’re spending as a people to keep the real welfare queens of this nation fat, fatter and fatter still.

Has this money we’re spending on corporate welfare benefited you and me? If it has, where are our jobs? Where is our industrial base? Why is America increasingly becoming a country that can not manufacture its own goods? What are we the people getting for this $100 billion dollar or $200 billion dollar or whatever it is check we keep signing over?

This is why, when I hear some pious pundit go on about people who feel “entitled” and then proceed to point their finger at the elderly, disabled and the vulnerable, I feel a wave of cynicism building off shore and then pouring over me.

I remember the lobby days for the disabled at the Oklahoma State Capitol when we are inundated by people in wheelchairs, many of whom who are so disabled they cannot hold their heads up straight or carry on a conversation or eat without drooling. I’ve seen their faces, looking up at me, begging me to do something to keep them from losing the funding that lets them live their lives with at least a little bit of dignity.

Then, I remember the corporate lobbyists in their expensive suits. I’ve seen them sitting in legislator’s offices, telling — not asking, but telling – committee chairmen, who were supposedly elected by the people, which bills to kill.

I think about the bill after bill after bill that we vote on that rips the people off in first one way and then the other, all on behalf of some moneyed interest. It goes on like that all day where I work. Bill, after bill, after bill; until you get bored and numb with the repetitiveness of them, all written by special interests, pushed by special interests and passed into law for special interests. These bills are designed to give a competitive advantage over smaller businesses, limit consumer redress, allow favorable contract terms against individual citizens or create government transfer of tax-payer money to corporate coffers.

These laws have nothing to do with the free enterprise system. They are the opposite of free enterprise. They allow big business to rip off everybody, including the small business owner whose dues go to the Chambers of Commerce that the big business controls.

I’ve been living with this … this corruption … for years. I see it every day. I hear it all day. I vote no. I debate against it. But my small voice and my one vote can not change the tide of corporatism that is drowning our Republic.

That’s why I’m talking about it here. Because all our votes together might do something. But that can never happen so long as we continue buying into the nonsense and lies that corporate talking heads keep feeding us. If we want to survive as a free people, we’ve got to start doing some of our own thinking.

California Makes a Bad New/Old Law

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I’ve voted two times against giving people who rape children the death penalty.

I authored a bill to put them in prison for life without parole.

That pretty much sums up my attitude toward people who sexually abuse children. I don’t want to kill them, but to say I have no use for them is an understatement.

I’ve also written several times about the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

I point to all these things now in hopes of forestalling what I am guessing will be a hailstorm of negative reaction and wild accusations because of what I’m about to say. I think the new California law temporarily erasing the statute of limitation on child sexual abuse is a bad law. I would have voted against it.

The new statute I am talking about passed both houses of the California legislature a few weeks ago. It is now on the governor’s desk, waiting for his signature to become law. The law is clearly aimed at the Catholic Church. It exempts public schools and and other government institutions, as well as the child abusers themselves. It also repeats something California has already done once, which is to rewind an old law and essentially erase the statute of limitations on old sexual abuse cases.

Here are the reasons why I think this is a bad law.

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1. It is a dangerous practice to make people retroactively guilty. Change the law going forward, if you want. But don’t go back and re-write laws in the past to find people guilty of things they wouldn’t be guilty of under the laws as they were at the time they committed the crime. The situation in the new California law is a shade of that practice (which is unconstitutional on its face) since what we are talking about is re-winding the statutory time in which a crime can be punished, in this case, by civil lawsuit.

Let’s say, as a for instance, that the statute of limitations on rape is 5 years. Let’s also say that it comes to light that a general in the armed forces participated in the gang rape of several enlisted personnel back when he was a lieutenant. This was decades ago, but he even though he hasn’t participated in any more rapes (that we know of) he is now turning a blind eye to other rapes in the ranks.

One way to get at this monster would be to rewind the statute of limitations (say we do it for one year to give prosecutors a window to get at him) and extend the time rapists can be brought to justice to 40 years instead of 5.

Problem solved, right?

No.

Problem created.

What we would be doing is setting a precedent of selective justice, and worse, selective law-making, to get at one man. We would be declaring open season on anyone that prosecutors and legislative bodies of the future want to take a crack at retroactively. It might not be such an undoubted monster the next time. It could be anybody, including anybody that the special interests who actually write most legislation want to get at.

We could end up with powerful businesses retroactively suing their competitors out of existence with this practice. In fact, given that most legislation is about helping businesses destroy their competition with laws they write themselves and then get their bought and paid for legislators to pass for them, you can bet it would and will happen.

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2. The California law is, as I mention above, aimed at one group of people, in this case the Catholic Church. The practice of writing laws to get at one group of people, no matter who they are, is egregious.

Here’s why.

When we’re going after a group of people most folks think of as the boogeyman, in this case, a huge Church that not only tolerated, but enabled child abuse for a long period of time, it’s easy to decide that any way we can make them suffer is a good way. However, as always happens with these intrusions of the irrational in lawmaking, what begins as a seemingly justifiable exception, soon becomes the unjustifiable norm.

If the legislature can do this once, as they already have in California, then the legislature can do it again. And as with most things, the more they do it, the less outrageous it seems and the smaller the reason required to do it again.

Pretty soon, we’ve got major corporations writing up legislation that specifically limits their competitors or uses the government to control their customers, and doing it by name.

This is actually just the next step in special interest legislation. Special interest legislation of this type takes up almost all of legislative time right now. This is a bit off the subject, but if special interest legislation was eliminated, most legislative bodies in this country could finish their work in about a quarter of the time they spend today.

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3. There are better ways to punish long-term miscreants than retroactive laws. Legislators do have to put on their little thinking caps. But it can certainly be done. What they have to do is pass a law that begins when it is signed by the governor and goes forward and that is written for everyone.

Of course, I am guessing that California already has all the laws it needs to deal with child sexual abuse in institutional settings. Those laws just weren’t utilized at the right time. Outrage that child sexual abusers escaped punishment because the powerful abused their power is what fuels the desire to use lawsuits to punish the child abuse enablers now.

But civil lawsuits are a poor way to deal with this problem. People who sexually abuse children should go to prison. I am not talking here about Catholic priests. I am talking about all child sexual abusers. I’ve had some dealings with this in Oklahoma and I can tell you that far too many of these guys skate. There are lots of reasons, but judges who, like Dr Richard Dawkins, just can’t seem to see the harm, are among the primary causes.

I believe that sexual abuse by a priest, or any clergy, is especially egregious simply because the trust people place in their clergy puts them in a vulnerable position vis a vis the clergy. People confide things in their priests that they don’t tell anyone else in the world. This makes them deeply vulnerable to this priest. Sexual abuse, especially of a child, is a horrific betrayal of this trust.

At the same time, I am becoming concerned that we are developing a legal and social double standard about child sexual abuse. Dr Dawkins, as a for instance, engaged in grand-standing talk about arresting the Pope because of the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals. Then, he turned around and tried to take a wink-wink attitude toward child sexual abuse in other contexts.

Dr Dawkins isn’t alone in this behavior.

I agree with giving longer sentences to those in a position of trust, such as counselors, clergy and doctors, who violate that trust in this way. I think that, considering the vulnerability of their patients and parishioners to them, it is appropriate to hold them to a higher standard. However, those higher standards should be statutorily defined, not handed down willy-nilly as vengeance.

I do not agree with a wholesale two-tiered system of justice which singles out Catholic clergy for higher sentences simply because they are Catholic clergy. That is discriminatory on its face.

I think the new California statute is a bad law that sets a terrible precedent. It’s just a matter of time before that precedent ends up being used and abused in ways that none of the backers of the law foresaw or intended.


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