Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

How did we get here? [UPDATED]

A sure way for a person to get their life off track is to have misplaced priorities. The same is true for a business. What is true for individuals and businesses is even more true for a country. And, boy, has this country ever gotten its priorities mixed up. Recent events and news articles have made this very clear.

The world economy went into a tailspin in 2008. Credit dried up, people lost trillions of dollars in wealth, unemployment soared and, as a result, aggregate demand plummeted. Another result of the downturn was a large drop in government revenues. Government revenues will not return to their former levels until more people are employed.  But instead of finding ways to raise demand, which would increase employment, governments are cutting spending and laying off public sector workers, thus lowering demand even further. At the very moment when governments should be increasing spending, they are focused on austerity. This brings to mind sayings about carts and horses.

The economy isn’t the only place we seem to have mixed up priorities.  A news story getting some attention on left-leaning blogs in 2009 told about the harsh sentence given to a homeless man for stealing $100 from a bank. The man turned himself in the next day and showed a strong sense of remorse. A Louisiana judge, apparently feeling that the malefactor was a dangerous felon and needed to be taken off the streets for the good of the community, sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Two years later another story was in the news. In this more recent story, a CEO was convicted of participating in a $3-billion fraud. He was sentenced to 40 months. Apparently, stealing three billion dollars, which most probably ruined several lives, is a lesser crime than stealing $100 and returning it the next day. If these are our priorities, it’s no wonder the people that tanked our economy walked away with billions in bonuses instead of being prosecuted.

The examples already given may make most people shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well, more of the same.” However, this next example is truly a WTF moment that makes one seriously wonder if we have plunged down the rabbit hole.

This is a headline from a ThinkProgress article, Topeka, Kansas City Council Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence To Save Money

From the article:

Faced with their worst budget crises since the Great Depression, states and cities have resorted to increasingly desperate measures to cut costs. State and local governments have laid off teachers, slashed Medicaid funding, and even started unpaving roads and turning off streetlights.

But perhaps the most shocking idea to save money is being debated right now by the City Council of Topeka, Kansas. The city could repeal an ordinance banning domestic violence because some say the cost of prosecuting those cases is just too high:

This must be more of that shared sacrifice we keep hearing about. The Tea Partiers should be very pleased. After all, we don’t have a revenue problem we have a spending problem. How better to bring spending under control than by telling domestic violence victims to suck it up and to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? This sounds surprisingly like the attitude Herman Cain expressed when he said people that don’t have a job in this economy have only themselves to blame.

What will be the next sacrifice we’ll have to make so millionaires and billionaires won’t have to pay the same tax rate they were paying a few years ago? Tell senior citizens to start eating their pets? Reestablish slavery? Oh wait, that one is already here. Georgia is planning on using prison labor to harvest crops, because their anti-immigrant policy drove undocumented workers from their state. Perhaps we should sell Yellowstone Park to Exxon.

Maybe the pessimists are right. Time to start looking for recipes for Soylent Green.



They did it. The Topeka city council voted to repeal the law that would have required them to prosecute domestic violence cases.…

TOPEKA, Kan. – Over the past month, one by one, people suspected in domestic battery cases in northeast Kansas have been set free with no charges against them. Prosecutors say they’re overwhelmed with felonies and, faced with budget cuts, can’t afford to pursue the cases.

Busted budgets have forced tough decisions by governments and law enforcement officials nationwide, but the Shawnee County district attorney’s move to stop investigating domestic abuse and other misdemeanor cases has angered victims’ advocates who say austerity has gone too far.

The advocates are also outraged by the response from the capital city of Topeka, where the City Council and mayor repealed the city’s domestic abuse law Tuesday night – a move designed to ensure the city wouldn’t be stuck with the bill for prosecuting such cases.

“I absolutely do not understand it,” Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said after the vote. “It’s really outrageous that they’re playing with family safety to see who blinks first. People could die while they’re waiting to straighten this out.”

Topeka has had at least 35 reported incidents of domestic battery or assault since early September. Those cases are not being pursued, and as of last Friday, 18 people jailed have been released without facing charges, according to Topeka police. Prosecutors and police have refused to discuss details of the cases out of concern for victims’ privacy, making it difficult to assess in what situations suspects aren’t being prosecuted.

The use of a weapon in an assault or battery makes a crime a felony, which would be handled in state court.

Taylor’s decision has prompted furious reactions nationwide, and county commissioners say they’ve received hundreds of emails in the past few days from people upset by Taylor’s move and the city’s response. Outside the Shawnee County Courthouse on Tuesday, about two dozen people carried signs protesting the moves.

It also doesn’t help that the possible repeal comes during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“It can’t continue like this. They have to be prosecuted,” said County Commissioner Ted Ensley, a Democrat. “Supposing they’re charged and they’re not prosecuted and it ends up they go back and cause a death of a woman or a child.”

In a memo, Taylor’s office said budget cuts would force it to drop its prosecution of misdemeanors occurring within Topeka’s city limits and “of greatest concern are domestic violence cases.”

Topeka officials feared the city’s ordinance against domestic violence could have forced the city to take over prosecuting cases and file them in its municipal court. Local officials said Topeka couldn’t handle the $74-a-day cost per inmate of renting space from the county to jail several hundred suspected abusers or hiring additional staff to handle prosecutions.

There’s more in that article that is worth reading. This next excerpt really caught my attention.

As in other places across the nation, state and local governments in Kansas are struggling to balance their budgets and find new revenue. Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback won big cuts in general aid to public schools and eliminated state funding for arts programs while forestalling any effort to raise revenue through taxes.

A recent National League of Cities report said cities’ property tax revenues, a key funding source, are expected to drop nearly 4 percent in 2011.

“No one wants to make
these cuts in essential services, but that’s where we’re at,” said Gregory Minchak, a spokesman for the League of Cities.

Cities including Cleveland and Sacramento, Calif., for example, have laid off police officers. And in many Midwestern states, sheriffs have stopped busting meth labs after federal money aimed at cleaning up the crime scenes ran out.

We’re not talking about a huge sum of money here. The cuts amount to less than $6 per household in a county with a median household income of more than $40,000.

The current budget for the Shawnee County district attorney’s office is just under $3.5 million, and would drop to a little more than $3.1 million in 2012 under the spending plan county commissioners adopted in August. Taylor said the cuts imposed by the commission would force him to lay off 11 of his 63 staff members.


  1. Each by ourselves and as a group.

    Failures in policy led to failures of decisions led to failures of systems. It seems that the split-attention and offense-only approach to the 9/11 response combined with expensive tax cuts and benefit increases which combined with an institutional and individual desire to find a Safe Place in ever-rising home values which led to pandemic economic collapse. With all the going down going on we tried to step from the 90s boom to an equally rosy shore, only to find that island was just a sandbar in a strong current.

    For all that, the group negativity is more an impediment to recovery and growth than all the numbers combined. The economic despair of the 70s and 80s seemed impenetrable, but it turned out that when we are cranking we can produce so much real value that we can pay all the bills with ease.

    Whether raising or lowering taxes would stimulate the economy, we have done neither. What we have done is tucked further and further into our individual and collective bellies under the droning commands of End Timers.

    We have to stop spinning so many cycles on self doubt.

  2. HappyinVT

    This is so deeply offending I almost don’t know where to start.  Although I might suggest to the Topeka, KS City Council that it looks at their marijuana laws.  

    By the by, isn’t Topeka Buffett’s home base?  

  3. HappyinVT

    (from the linked article)

    Here’s what happened: Last month, the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office, facing a 10% budget cut, announced that the county would no longer be prosecuting misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, at the county level. Finding those cases suddenly dumped on the city and lacking resources of their own, the Topeka City Council is now considering repealing the part of the city code that bans domestic battery.

    So the county’s already quit prosecuting.  The city now has to decide what to do.  Seriously, WTF is wrong with this country (at least this portion anyway) that is has come to this?

  4. jsfox

    when you go through all the links on this Topeka Kansas story and get back to the actual proposal put forth, it reads a bit differently.

    What I read the argument is not whether to prosecute, but an argument about who prosecutes and thus pays for it. District court or the Municipal court.

    Mayor Bill Bunten responded that everyone on the council supports punishing those who commit domestic battery.

    “The question is who prosecutes them, the municipal court or the district court, and who pays for it, the city or the county or a combination?” Bunten said.

    He also said that if anyone thinks those who commit domestic battery will go unpunished here, “they’re dead wrong.”

    Have I got this reading wrong?

  5. November 5

    ..with a gambling problem, got $3000, and turned himself in a couple of days later, got a year in jail.

    The other day, I offered you a riff from the 1983 Classic Rap song White Lines…for those who know the lyrics, I don’t have to repeat the verse in mind to you.

    The main problem, is the interest the municipalities pay on their bonds. I wonder how much of the budget goes to paying the juice (I’m sorry, “interest” is too benign a term these days), and what’s left over for spending on actual projects.

    Clinton had the right idea, and got impeached over it.

    For those who are not metaphysically inclined, thanks for reading, we’re done here.


    Anyone who understand astrology understands the effect Pluto has when it’s in Capricorn. For those who don’t, thelast time this happened was when the American Revolution took place, the time before that, the invention of the printing press, which effectively ended the Middle Ages.

    Pluto is in Capricorn for roughly 15 years, from 2008-2023. In terms of the financial sector, it’s really going to clean house, as this transit just does not put up with any nonsense whatsoever.

    And when I mean “clean house”, it favors OWS, it favors groups like Wikileaks, it favors people like Bradley Manning. It absolutely does not favor corrupt organizations and corporations. It is going to absolutely incinerate Fox News and the Murdochs. That one by itself should make the sceptics believe lol.

    Now for those who think this is hogwash, you’re entitled, except for the fact that I told you we were done above the line lol. But I will say this much…let’s keep score on this one, and in 2023, you’ll tell me if I was right or wrong.  

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