Friday, October 14, 2011

Austerity Aesthetics

Facing Cuts, City Decriminalizes Domestic Violence:

TOPEKA, Kan. — The startling vote came up at a City Council meeting here on Tuesday, provoked by a run-of-the-mill budget dispute over services that had spun out of control: decriminalize domestic violence.

Three arms of government, all ostensibly representing the same people, have been at an impasse over who should be responsible for — and pay for — prosecuting people accused of misdemeanor cases of domestic violence.

City leaders had blamed the Shawnee County district attorney for handing off such cases to the city without warning. The district attorney, in turn, said he was forced to not prosecute any misdemeanors and to focus on felonies because the County Commission cut his budget. And county leaders accused the district attorney of using abused women as pawns to negotiate more money for his office.

After both sides dug in, the dispute came to a head Tuesday night.

By a vote of 7 to 3, the City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.

Maybe that should be Topeka's new city slogan. Topeka: low taxes, dead spouses.

In other austerity news, Looking To Save Money, Communities Stop Fluoridating Water:

A growing number of communities are choosing to stop adding fluoride to their water systems, even though the federal government and federal health officials maintain their full support for a measure they say provides a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay nationwide.

Last week, Pinellas County, on Florida’s west coast, voted to stop adding fluoride to its public water supply after starting the program seven years ago. The county joins about 200 jurisdictions from Georgia to Alaska that have chosen to end the practice in the last four years, motivated both by tight budgets and by skepticism about its benefits.

“I’m in opposition to putting a medical treatment into the public drinking water supply without a vote of the people who drink that water,” said Norm Roche, a newly elected Republican county commissioner.
[The sound of crickets chirping]

The drinking water/fluoride hysteria is an old conspiracy trope along the lines of the moon landing was a hoax and 9/11 was an inside job. I saw a recent poll that said most self-identified "Tea Party" members think fluoride in drinking water is a plot to make people stupid.
"Fluoride is a toxic substance," Tea Party activist Tony Caso of Palm Harbor said at the commission meeting, according to the St. Pete Times. "This is all part of an agenda that's being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don't realize what's going on."
Stay thirsty, my friends.

Sunny Florida....the Sunshine State. In another austerity move, one Florida legislator said he's ready to "save money" by bringing back the firing squad (or better yet, drowning).

Mickey Mouse, oranges, the Everglades and a gauntlet of gunfire at convicted criminals. Florida could be adding another gem to its list of Sunshine State exclusive if one Republican representative has his way.

GOP Rep. Brad Drake says that he is so “sick and tired of this sensitivity movement” that the state of Florida should revert back to the good old days when a prisoner could be berated with an onslaught of bullets instead of this silly “lethal injection” tomfoolery. So convinced is Drake that death by firing squad be reinstituted in the Sunshine State, he penned himself a bill that would bring that barbaric method of execution back to Florida.

To Drake, however, it shouldn’t stop with just a firing squad. If he had his druthers, and thank God he doesn’t, that would be child’s play.

"There shouldn't be anything controversial about a .45-caliber bullet,” Drake says in his statement favoring his newly-penned bill. “If it were up to me we would just throw them off the Sunshine Skyway bridge and be done with it.”

"Over the past few weeks, there has been much discussion and debate regarding the effectiveness of certain medicines used as preferred method for execution," Drake says in a statement regarding his bill. "So, I say let's end the debate. We still have Old Sparky. And if that doesn't suit the criminal, then we will provide them a .45 caliber lead cocktail instead."

From a pure austere point of view, I think his "lead cocktail" might be cheaper than the three-drug process Florida uses via lethal injection. But to save a buck, I'd go with the pet-tested, veterinarian approved single barbiturate. And if you really wanted to save money, nothing beats "throwing 'em off a bridge." Now that's austere, baby!

But electricity? Fughedabouitt...WAY too expensive.

[composes self]

The Sunshine State. This is the same state, incidentally, which recently, in the name of austerity, tried to ban the academic discipline of anthropology.
Governor Rick Scott gave an interview Monday to The Herald-Tribune in which he said that he wants to shift money away from some degree programs at state universities to increase support for science and technology fields. To illustrate what's wrong with current funding patterns, he said: "If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education then I’m going to take that money to create jobs. So I want that money to go to degrees where people can get jobs in this state. Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so."

Then in a radio interview, he reiterated his view, saying of anthropology majors: "It's a great degree if people want to get it. But we don't need them here."
Which I can kind of understand, frankly. If I were studying preliterate societies, I'd want to be in the largest petri dish I could find. Like Florida. It only makes sense that Floridians would want them gone.

But what all these stories reflect is the larger circling of the drain going on in the U.S. Rather than concentrating on creating jobs and increasing revenues, we're making domestic violence legal, ruining the teeth of the citizenry, debating bringing back the firing squad to save a buck, and banning anthropology (to name but a few austere results).

I saw a sign in the ongoing Occupy Wall Street encampment that kind of summed it up: "Austerity for A-holes."

You get what you pay for, folks. Or don't, as the case may be.

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