Friday, October 24, 2014

Correcting Corrections and Holding Hands

I spent few hours campaigning with "The Candidate" today.

The candidate is extremely personable and really, really likes interacting with people.

His campaign manager is named Ron and Ron is the near-perfect compliment of "The Candidate".  Ron is all about issues and schedules, numbers and percentages.  Ron is a political wonk.  I think he is frozen in liquid Nitrogen between elections.

We have to ask our candidates the hard-ball questions

Most news media is pretty clueless. They lack the attention span to ask questions #2-through-#6.  My belief is that we, the supporters, must be harder on "our" candidates than the general public.  We will have failed if our candidates if they hear a question from the mainstream media that they have not first heard from us.

Any focused discussion regarding re-funding roads and education must include a coherent plan to defund departments that have grown faster than inflation.

The Corrections budget is the fastest growing industry in Michigan. Unless changes are made, at some point  in the near future every adult in the State of Michigan will either be incarcerated or a prison guard. Mathematically, there is no way to control budget growth without addressing Corrections.

I asked Ron, "Does 'The Candidate'  have a plan to address the growth in Corrections budget".

Ron's answer was multifaceted:

Michigan has many laws that are legacy laws.  Science continues to advance and those legacy laws are often not fully supported by our current, best science.  Unfortunately, those laws put many people in prison.  Those laws need to scrutinized.

Just for example...and not to suggest this is any kind of commitment but to provide a graphic illustration:

Is Cannibis a gateway drug that vastly increases the chances of user's graduating to "hard drugs" or might other co-factors be equally or more important?  Do people smoke pot because they are unemployed and have no motivation to stay fully aware?  Might lack of employment be more highly correlated to other crime than smoking pot?

"The Candidate" is all about starting businesses and generating jobs and creating opportunities for personal advancement.  Few things encourage prudent behavior more than having to go to work early the next morning.

One must balance the negative costs of depriving families of parents and the economy of potential workers, the $25K/year  cost of incarceration VERSUS the cost to society of young adults and the most marginalized portions of society smoking a little bit of weed to make life endurable.

Sidebar: This is exquisitely delicious for those with a taste for irony.  The primary beneficiaries of decriminalization of "victimless" crime do not traditionally support "The Candidate's" party.  The party that they traditionally support are also very pro-union and cannot appear to abandon the unions of the Corrections industry.  "The Candidate's" party can cut the Gordian knot because they approach it from the perspective of "What is the best thing for the residents, the tax-payers, of Michigan.

Another facet

One way of bringing intense scrutiny to budgets is to use a "zero based" approach to funding.  "Zero based" legislation might be a robust approach to wiping stupid laws off the books.

And yet another approach

Another approach is to ask, "While incarcerating somebody definitely changes their behavior while they are incarcerated, is it the most effective way to change behaviors in the long run?"

Some people need to be incarcerated for the safety of society.  No argument.

One approach to reducing corrections would be to refine the kinds of felonies that trigger mandatory Three-And-Out legislation.  Really, should joy riding in a golf cart (Grand Theft Auto) be considered the equal of Aggravated Assault/Attempted Murder?

Another approach would be an aggressive parole strategy that uses our best technology to monitor behaviors.  Does the iPhone have a breath-a-lizer app?  If not, it won't be long.

Holding Hands

Some impressions burn deeply.

We had just finished pounding a subdivision and Ron  and "The Candidate" were out front debating strategy, Pelé*, and "The Candidates" parents were about 30 yards behind Ron and "The Candidate" and I was lagging far to the rear as we trudged the three-quarter mile back to the vehicles.

"The Candidate's" parents had driven from a Detroit suburb to pound the pavement with us.  It is a one hour-forty minute commute, one way, when the traffic is favorable.  It had been a long day for them before they knocked on the first door.

I identified with "The Candidate's" dad.  He reminded me of a well worn set of bedroom slippers.  He is infinitely comfortable and quickly establishes rapport. We are both a bit soft, our edges are rounded and the fuzz was worn off of us long ago.  We are both instantly forgettable to the casual observer.

 "The Candidate's" mother reminded me of Mrs ERJ.  I am a connoisseur of adult women.  One quickly assesses from her carriage and complexion, the set of her jaw and the fire in her eye that she had been heart-stoppingly beautiful in her middle years.  Our culture does not condone looking at a woman in her mid-seventies and assessing her as "beautiful".  That is our profound loss.

As we trudged back to the vehicles, "The Candidate's" parents held hands like a couple of besotted eighth grade sweethearts.  They did not know that I was watching, probably would not care if they did know.  They held hands because they love each other and to offer each other comfort, care and support.

Watching "The Candidate's" parents, both in the mid-seventies, walking hand-in-hand like a Norman Rockwell painting was worth the price of admission.  I chalked it off as an afternoon well spent.

* Pelé is looking for a job and nothing callouses a person to rejection like knocking on doors for a political candidate.

1 comment:

  1. Watching the candidate up close for a couple of hours WILL give you a sense of who he/she is and what they really stand for. And kudos to the parents for stepping up and being there. Sounds like they did a good job!