Connecticut Voices for Children, which clamors for state government to spend a lot more money remediating the consequences of child neglect and abuse without ever contemplating their causes, has proposed raising state taxes by $3 billion per year.
"A cuts-only approach," the organization said the other week, "may offer a short-term solution to the budget deficit, but it does so at a significant cost to the long-term economic and social structure of the state."
What about the cost to the state's long-term economic and social structure resulting from the removal of another $3 billion from the private economy, a tax increase of about 18 percent? Connecticut Voices for Children has no more concern about that cost than it has about state government's subsidizing childbearing outside marriage.
How much money could state government save if, instead of social workers, children had parents prepared to support them? Why don't children have such parents? Connecticut Voices for Children would be far more valuable to Connecticut and children alike if it looked into those questions rather than muse about throwing a lot more money at remediation, therebyv accepting neglect and abuse.
Also missing the point is Jamie Whitman of Stonington, who, writing in The Day of New London, angrily reports that the state Department of DevelopmentalServices is planning to cut in half the services provided to his mentally disabled cousin. Whitman predicts that his cousin will end up in hospital emergency rooms more often and cost more anyway.
Whitman writes: "The message the state is sending is that people who are developmentally disabled are expendable." Yes, but state government's message here is actually an old one, a message thatWhitman and others advocating for the innocent needy are only beginning to notice.
State government has been sending this message for decades with collective bargaining for state and municipal government employees, binding arbitration of their union contracts, and defined benefits for their pensions, laws that have turned the ever-rising expenses of government employees into "fixed costs," costs beyond control by the ordinary democratic process.
By contrast, as a matter of law the costs of care for the innocent needy are merely discretionary. There are no binding arbitration and contracts for them. For as a matter of law everything in state government is subordinate to the compensation of government's own employees. Down to its last dollar, as a matter of law state government will throw the helpless into the street to keep its employees happy.
Such priorities are disgraceful. But the advocates of the innocent needy do not yet seem to realize that "to govern is to choose." If advocates of the innocent needy want a different outcome, they will have to persuade elected officials to confront the special interest that consumes the bulk of government spending. But those who consider complaining about these arrangements must beware.
Forstarters, the president of the state AFL-CIO, Lori Pelletier, whose organizationis dominated by the government employee unions, will accuse anyone who puts theinnocent needy first of having "hatred" for government employees.
Assert that the innocent needy should take precedence and Pelletier's followers will accuse you of "conservative ideology" and of betraying the journalistic ideal of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable -- as if government employees in Connecticut are generally the afflicted and not the comfortable.
Of course, being employed by government is no crime, but neither does it make anyone a liberal or particularly virtuous. No, being employed by government makes one only an expense to be considered impartially against government's other expenses. Doing so can seem revolutionary only in a state dominated by special interests.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.