I’ve got to say, events of these last few months have really put a strain on my mother’s admonition that “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
Okay–let me try. The Indiana legislature did take a (hesitant) step toward rational policy-making by setting up a committee to study marijuana prohibition. It’s only a study committee, but it is implicit recognition of the fact that our drug war policies are costly and counterproductive. That’s a good thing.
Problem is, so far as I can tell, it’s the only good thing that has happened during this legislative session.
- At a time when poll after poll finds job creation at the top of the list of voter concerns, the GOP majority has been fixated on restricting abortion, prohibiting same-sex marriage, union-busting and immigrant bashing.
- Despite all the verbal hand-wringing about the state’s fiscal problems, the legislature refused once again to eliminate Indiana’s 1008 wasteful, unnecessary and expensive Townships.
- The war on public education may be well-intentioned (to give lawmakers the benefit of the doubt), but it is anything but informed. One small example: the effort to link teacher pay to student achievement. Sounds reasonable–if you don’t understand the situation. The likely result would be to discourage good teachers from teaching in schools with lots of poor kids, since available research links student performance to parental income. (There are ways of measuring achievement that control for socio-economic status, but somehow I don’t think that’s what our genius legislators intend.)
I have a student who is interning at the State Senate. His account of the “discourse” (note quotes) in that august chamber are dispiriting, to say the least. To date, my favorite is the statement made by Senator Ron Alting during discussion of Delph’s anti-immigration bill. Alting began by saying that the legislation would damage Indiana’s reputation; he also recognized that it would hurt economic development and our convention business, saying “we will be impacted like Arizona.” His conclusion? “So be it. I’ll vote for it.”
Just kill me now.