I really don’t get the right wingers in this country.  I admire the passion of the Tea Party, I just think it is misguided.  They don’t trust the government, yet they allow them to spend more money on weapons of mass destruction than any other country in the world.  They claim they want individual freedom, yet we have more people in prison in this country than anywhere else in the world and nothing is said about it. 

Wisconsin currently has 23,000 people in state prison.  That amount is 2.5 percent higher than neighboring Minnesota which has a similar population and crime rate.  According to an article in a local paper called Eau Claire Now (weird!)  http://bit.ly/brxD8b “The difference is Minnesota passed a community corrections law in the early 1970s and felony sentencing guidelines in the 1980s in an effort to contain the state’s prison population. As a result, growth in Wisconsin’s prison population was two times as fast as Minnesota’s in the 1990s.”   The cost to have each person in prison is $31,806 in Wisconsin http://www.nicic.gov/Features/StateStats/?State=WI.  That is pretty close to the 52,644 that a teacher makes.  Why aren’t they trying to fix a broken corrections system rather than fighting teachers unions?

We never really ask ourselves these kids of questions.  We never face the reality that we are a country that was founded on personal freedom yet we have more people in jail than every other country in the world.  Instead we pick on the poor and undermine our children’s educations all in the name of “safety”.  What we don’t understand is that every other country in the world is just as safe as we are and spend dramatically less on locking people up.  We need to deal with problems like drugs in a realistic way.  Locking people in cells doesn’t solve their addiction issues.  It just puts them side by side with violent offenders for years.  What do you think will happen when they get out?  We need to start facing these realities.

The answer to the current budget crises in this country is pretty simple.  Look at EVERYTHING we are spending money on and try to create efficiencies.  What they Tea Party does is to only look at things they don’t like, like unions and NPR, and only cut those things while disregarding other wasteful government spending.  Although they are starting to target defense, they are doing so on a very small-scale.  We need to start looking at where ALL of our tax dollars go and see if we can improve things.  That is what successful business do and we need to start doing the same kind of thing if we want to stay on top. 

Mandatory sentencing needs to be eliminated.  We need to stop locking people away for property crimes and start coming up with different, more effective ways of dealing with those issues.  Violent criminals make up a small part of the prison population.  Our prisons are filled to the max with non-violent offenders who are mixed with violent offenders.  Is this really what we want, to take someone who has made some bad mistakes and lock him next to a murder?  How does that make our society more safe?  We need to start asking ourselves these questions and having these kinds of conversations rather than attacking education.  Teachers unions need to do a better job making sure teachers are doing their jobs but that isn’t the real problem in this country.  The real problem is living in a country that claims to be the home of the free while having the highest prison population in the world.  That is hypocrisy of the worst kind.

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