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Opening Arguments

One less freebie

State budget cuts have ended a program at my alma mater:

The Indiana Department of Correction has no firm plans yet to address budget cuts to correctional education.

The state Legislature last year cut off Frank O'Bannon grants to offenders attending college in state prisons, including about 1,000 enrolled at Ball State University.

As the funding ran out, so did jobs for all but four of the nearly 80 BSU employees, mostly part-time adjunct faculty, employed as prison educators.

It's hard to justify to Hoosiers why prison inmates should get something for free that is being priced out of reach for ordinary, law-abiding citizens. But of course that's the main complaint about the entitlement society in general -- that the productive are penalized to provide for the non-productive.

I understand the practical reasons for educating inmates -- it increases the chances of post-incarceration employment, which decreases the number of recidivists and career criminals, making us safer in the long run. But it's difficult to muster enthusiastic support for the idea on a moral level.


Tue, 05/22/2012 - 4:24pm

"...the productive are penalized to provide for the non-productive."

I think that phrase sums up the philosophical difference between conservatives and liberals: You seem to regard any taxation to help the less fortunate as some sort of punishment aimed at you. You're a victim of the poor.

Honestly, we liberals don't hate or envy the wealthy. If you and I were to both win the Powerball jackpot next week, I presume you'd gripe about your higher new tax bracket; I would cheerfully regard higher taxes as my duty as a newly wealthy citizen.

Besides, as you pointed out, the "non-productive" prisoner is more likely to become productive upon his release if he has acquired a legally remunerative skill - and therefore less likely to break into your home and steal your television. Ergo, it's in your self-interest (to get all Randian on you) to support education of prison inmates, or at least those serving less than a life sentence.

Leo Morris
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 8:29am

You seem to want my use of "the non-productive" to be very specific -- the poor, downtrodden and helpless whom I selfishly want to ignore. But it's a general term and accurate. The group includes the infirm, the mentally challenged, the victims of circumstance, the drunk and lazy, the incompetent and the greedy and stupid -- there are all sorts of reasons to be non-productive, and we should treat each group differently. Alas, liberals insist on lumping them all together as a way to bash conservatives who have the audacity to complain about the steady creep of statism and crushing of the individual spirit. Dividing line indeed.

Christopher Swing
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:10pm

If you wanted to complain only about specific parts of a general group, you probably shouldn't have used the general term then.

Wed, 05/23/2012 - 8:07pm

littlejohn, keep cheerfully paying those taxes.  Somebody needs to pay for GSA's clowns.

john b. kalb
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 9:13pm

Rerbecca - You don't remember, small place to take ...... is , per his own response, "unemployable' - which probably means that only his wife earns enough to require paying taxes -   So, even in his own household, he expects someone else to  "pay his way".

Christopher Swing
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 4:59pm

So marriage is a super-sacred partnership of a man and a woman being equal, no matter who works, until John B. Kalb wants to try and insult Littlejohn?

Kalb, do you even have a wife? She pay her own way? If you don't think so, how do you think she feels about that?