What’s the Matter with Kansas Now?

Last night in class, one of my students asked me if I was aware that Topeka, Kansas had decriminalized domestic violence, to save the cost of prosecution.

She wasn’t hallucinating.

Who was it that decried a society in which people know “the cost of everything and the value of nothing?” How insane has criminal justice policy become when we spend upwards of 40 billion¬†dollars every year on a drug war to (ostensibly) prevent people from harming themselves, but we won’t spend money to prosecute people who harm others?

What do these examples say about our cultural norms? ¬†One possibility: our puritan impulses to insure that our neighbors are behaving “morally” drive policies from blue laws to censorship to alcohol and drug prohibition; while a still-lingering sexism convinces us that a man sometimes has to “assert authority” over his wife? (Never mind that men can also be the victims of domestic violence).

Social priorities really come into focus when money is tight.

1 Comment

  1. How about the “insane” and “morally driven” policy of subsidizing childbirth out of short-sighted compassion?

    Whether it be Newsweek citing that entitlement programs are over 60% of our spending, a current Economist article citing that seven out of ten black women are single, or the well-publicized fact that around half of all American births are out of wedlock, how is this custom serving our lack of money in Topeka and elsewhere when the taxpayer often becomes the financial Daddy?

    Is it necessary to cite the sources to believe that this standard of parenting is not improving our rates of obesity, graduation, incarceration, and repetition of the cycle of poverty? Until societal expectations of real parenting return, adoption, foster parenting, limited biological reunification attempts, and another societal try at bulk care for children offer more promise than posting money to “the account” and assuming “parenting” is taking place. This has worked as well the inspectors for off-shore oil wells and the rating agencies for the home loan industry.

    No disagreement that we lack the governmental resources to chase drug traffic everywhere. There is also more than one way to pour money down a hole, with victims considerably more innocent than drug abusers.

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