Inequality is all around us and as it spreads it’s ugly head pops up in seemingly unintended places, but one has to wonder about that. At the very least it is a product of simply not caring. It is pretty commonly accepted that starving government programs (excepting the military) is a tactic utilized constantly by the right in order to feed public contempt for government. As profitable corporations pay no taxes or receive giant refunds and the flight of potential tax revenue as corporations and the wealthy hide money in off shore tax havens has resulted in most of our government programs becoming grossly and intentionally underfunded. The result is: conservative or liberal, we are all frustrated with our government whenever and wherever we interact with it. This is not really news but a closer look at certain specifics illustrate that loss of basic constitutional rights (for the poor of course) can proliferate as a result.
The article below from The Nation Magazine, by Sara Mayeux focuses on our starved legal system where typical austerity focuses cuts on programs that can least afford them. In place after place budgets are cut in the public defender’s offices with dire consequences for some. In one example,” Vermilion Parish, Louisiana—a Cajun enclave on the Gulf of Mexico—had 10 public defenders to represent poor people facing criminal charges. Now, after a round of layoffs, Natasha George is the only one. As The New York Times recently reported, George has little choice but to place most of her would-be clients on a wait list. Instead of the speedy and fair proceedings guaranteed by the Constitution, they have no way of knowing when their cases will be resolved.” This is a basic tenet of our constitutional rights that is being ignored, basically so the haves can have more. “Throughout the United States, public defenders have used the word ‘crisis’ for decades as shorthand for the combination of volatile funding, understaffing, and excessive per-lawyer caseloads that has persistently plagued many defender offices.”
A “New Orleans judge who recently ordered the release of defendants awaiting counsel wrote, by way of explanation, that “constitutional rights are not contingent on budget demands.” This is a very sound supposition, but reality often implies something quite different. “In practice, constitutional rights are often hamstrung by state-level budgets” and we have to wonder is it intent, negligence or mere accident that brings us to this disgraceful circumstance. It is very evident there is little or no focus on correcting the cause since it’s only solution would involve an effort at redistribution and equality. We don’t even discuss it in our news. Like a homeless person on the sidewalk we don’t even notice.
Read the entire article and remember it the next time you start thinking a little austerity makes sense and who it will make sense for and who it won’t.