" The Petri Dish Is Putrid ! " By Rev. Peter E. Bauer

08/30/2017 05:27 pm ET

I remember in Freshmen high school biology class, we were supposed to do a project growing bacteria. We were given a circular plastic specimen case and cover and, with a swab, we were supposed to collect a “specimen”. I must admit that it was quite comical to see a group of adolescent boys on their hands and knees trying to collect bacteria off the floor of the boys’ shower. When the specimen was collected, it was interesting to see the resulting bacteria grow in the lab.

What is illustrative is that just as biological bacteria can grow from a sample, pathological growth can also grow in governmental and political systems.

Case in point, take Kansas for example. Several years ago, I went to Kansas to present at a conference in a Unitarian-Universalist Church. My hosts were very gracious and politically conscious. They told me what was happening at that time regarding massive cuts in property taxes and how that loss of revenue was wreaking havoc on budgets for public education and police, fire and public safety. Governor Sam Brownback was the acting CEO of the state at that time, and the locals referred to the state landscape as “ Brownbackestan. “

I’ve heard that the Kansas legislature is now doing everything possible to legislatively reverse the negative effects that the tax cuts engendered. Yet this notion of providing massive tax cuts in the hope that a government will reap the benefits of a trickle-down economics is of limited utility. Incredibly, there is another replay of this policy currently happening in Oklahoma.

In a recent article regarding Oklahoma, there were the following observations:

“Added up, the facts evoke a social breakdown across the board. Not only does Oklahoma lead the country in cuts to education, it’s also number one in rates of female incarceration, places second in male incarceration, and also leads in school expulsion rates. One in twelve Oklahomans have a felony conviction.

Rosa Brooks of Georgetown University Law Center wrote in an essay that states begin to fail when the contract between citizens and public institutions breaks down. States “lose control over the means of violence, and cannot create peace or stability for their populations or control their territories. They cannot ensure economic growth or any reasonable distribution of social goods.”

It may be hard to believe, but entry-level employees with a high school diploma at the popular convenience store QuikTrip make more than teachers in Oklahoma.

For four years running, the state has led the nation in tax cuts to education, outpacing second-place Alabama by double digits. Years of tax cuts and budget shortfalls mean that Oklahoma has fallen to 49th in teacher pay. Spending per pupil has dropped by 26.9% since 2008.

Things have become so bad that the Cherokee nation, a tribe systematically cheated out of its land allotments in the creation of the modern state of Oklahoma, recently donated $5m to the state’s education fund.” Oklahoma isn't working. Can anyone fix this failing ... - The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com › US News › Inequality

So how did things get so bad? Who was proverbially asleep at the wheel to allow for this out of control outcome?

Pure and simple, those who have advocated for very limited government, as well as limited regulations for industries like oil and gas and other entities, have chosen not to invest in infrastructure such as schools, health care and public safety.

If you have a shoe- string budget, you can’t possibly provide for services to people more than a pair of flip-flops.

Any wonder then that we are witnessing this current nightmare in Oklahoma. If a government is going to be just and moral and provide services and protection for all its citizens, then it’s imperative that revenue, budget and taxation systems should reflect this commitment as well.

You can’t eradicate hunger for someone by giving them a stone.

Budgets are moral document;, they reflect what we value as a society. For those who subscribe to a religious, moral, philosophical ethical perspective, now is the time to advocate for a better, cleaner and more just and equitable division of sate financial resources.

The petri dish has become putrid and the bacteria is spreading.

Let’s neutralize this sickness now.

May it be so.

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