And the infirm, the disabled, the poor, the at risk, the underprivileged, the…. As 2018 is welcomed with great hope for a better year than the last, there is also a great sense of despair as Montana’s state government continues to carry out the slashing offered up by the Governor and blessed by the Legislature during the November special session. State workers have been feeling the pain since last summer. And now it’s time for Mom, Pop and Jr to start suffering out in the hinterlands.
There wasn’t much in the way of lamenting as state employees received their pink slips late last summer and then through the fall. After all, Montana’s state government needs to live within it’s means. Part of learning to live in a smaller budget world also means eliminating some long standing ‘contracted services‘ to private providers. It’s important to remember that programs like case management as they existed before the cuts and for the last three decades were entirely publicly funded. Yes, a government program carried out by the private sector with tax dollars. In this case, that’s not at all a bad thing. Case management for the developmentally disabled carried out by the non profits who have successfully provided employment services is like a one stop shop and makes sense. That is until the public money dries up. Truly a sad situation and those cracks that people like to lament about others less fortunate than themselves falling through are much larger than they’ve been in years, in fact, in decades.
If that was all, if that was the only loss, the only scaling back, it would be one thing. It’s not. There’s the loss of mental health services, the closing of public assistance offices in rural counties, reading libraries for the blind, services to at risk youth. The list goes on, and will grow longer given the course that’s been charted. And on that course could be a return to the days of the county poorhouse and county poor-farm, institutions from days of old that no one ever envisioned coming back. 2018 brings a new round of campaigns and elections. No doubt we’ll soon be asked ‘is this is what you voted for’ as the Montana Democratic Party tries to figure out a win in November. Unfortunately Nancy, yes, this is what Montanan’s voted for, but didn’t believe it would happen to their neighbors.
So as the holiday season is ushered out and the doldrums of January begin, harken back to Christmas Eve and the three ghosts who visited Scrooge in hopes of his redemption. In particular the Ghost of Christmas Present. As he opened his robes, he revealed two malnourished and scared children. ‘This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom….’ Ignorance has grown up. Ignorance is angry. Ignorance hates his government, yet fiercely defends it’s flag. Ignorance is barely getting by and in debt. Ignorance believes it’s someone else’s fault, someone who snuck into the country to do the work he won’t. Ignorance has the nation’s attention. Ignorance has the Republican Party’s attention and the Democratic Party’s scorn. And worst of all, Ignorance votes.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’