Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

How Has the GOP Improved Alabama Quality of Life?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, August 31, 2018

In almost every measure of the quality of life, Alabama comes up short. Seriously short. Or, to couch it in somewhat Biblical terms (which most Alabamians of any political or religious stripe would understand… and, which most any reasonably well-read person would as well), “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” ref: Daniel 5:27 (NIV)

This is not a Republican thing, per se, nor is it a Democratic thing. It is an ongoing statement of the poor quality of of almost EVERYTHING in Alabama. The root of most every problem plaguing Alabamians lies with the state’s 1901 Constitution which, among other things, FORBIDS local self-governance known as Home Rule – the basic principle upon which our democratic republic was founded – which is that EVERY person has a voice, a vote, and a say-so in how things are run from the grass-roots level, and that all are equal under the law, which is no discriminator of persons.

That is in large part why on almost every statewide ballot there are questions pertaining to counties or cities, and why the entire state must vote on what people in the opposite sides of the state do, and why they have a say-so in other towns and cities governance. Think of it as allowing your nosy neighbors a say in how you do things in your house.

Yeah, I know… weird, isn’t it? Maybe “stupid” would be another, better, or more accurate choice of words.

In Montgomery, when the part-time Legislature with full-time pay convenes (total compensation for legislators approximates $50,000/year), they are constitutionally required and mandated to legislate local matters, because the constitution literally FORBIDS local people from making local decisions.

The legislature is further hamstrung, and the people are thereby harmed, by the inordinately short period of time to which they are similarly constitutionally constrained to meet – 30 meeting days in a  105 calendar day period. Who could get ANYTHING done for 4.8 million people in such a short period of time? Seriously… WHO?

Consider public corruption as an example of how problematic the 1901 Alabama State Constitution truly is. Most recently, the GOP-dominated Legislature, Governor’s office, individual legislators (predominately GOP), and other ancillary agencies (Alabama State Troopers/Department of Public Safety, later known as ALEA, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, etc.) were involved in corruption scandals, the likes of which the state hasn’t seen in, like… FOREVER! Seriously. The extent and degree of severity of corruption which has recently plagued Alabama is unparalleled.

Once the GOP-dominated Legislature was in power, they promptly set about improving the practically toothless Ethics Laws which many of them promised to change, if elected. Ordinarily, that’d be a good thing. Mike Hubbard became Speaker of the House, and the state’s top executive branch offices – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries – were all filled by Republicans.

Now, here’s where the problems begin.

All THREE branches of government – the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial – were touched by serious corruption. As a natural consequence, the people’s business was impeded and damaged, which also wasted the taxpayers time, money and resources to investigate and prosecute.

But perhaps the MOST costly price paid was continued damage to the state’s already tarnished image in the public eye, nationally and internationally… as if it could get any worse.

Governor Robert Bentley was the subject of Federal and State investigations over whether he misused public funds, and violated campaign finance law to further his extra-marital involvement with a female aide. Corollary to that, he was also facing impeachment… the first ever Alabama governor to face such serious public scrutiny and reprisal.

The Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and other legislators were facing investigations and indictments by the Attorney General for possible violations of ethics laws, and other related laws. Named as witnesses were many well-known, high-powered big business lobbyists, and their clients.

The State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was facing a SECOND investigation in his second elected term over his refusal to obey and uphold Federal Law, and a Federal Judge’s court order to obey the law, which meant he could face public trial by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission (his peers), and a SECOND possible expulsion from the bench.

The Governor accepted a plea deal to two lesser misdemeanors, resigned from office, repaid monies, performed community service, and promised to never again hold public office.

The Chief Justice was found guilty and removed from the bench – a SECOND time.

The Speaker of the House and other legislators were all found GUILTY of violating the very Ethics Laws they passed – which were all felony violations.

As well, over a dozen current legislators and others (high-powered attorneys, former legislators, lobbyists, business owners, etc.) are STILL being found GUILTY of, or pleading GUILTY to violating Federal and/or state law, including bribery, mail fraud, Medicare fraud, misuse of public office, and various other forms of abuse of public trust.

And then, there’s the sheriff from Etowah County, Todd Entrekin, who was found to have LEGALLY redirected funds which were to have been used for feeding inmates (three-quarters of a million dollars), to his own personal use, to, with his wife Karen, purchase a luxurious beachfront house on the Gulf Coast.

All but one of those identified are Republicans.

But again, this is not an “Us versus Them” or “Republican versus Democrat” problem. It’s a corruption problem, the predominate root of which lies with the 1901 Alabama State Constitution. Consequently, the entire state suffers.

Harvard University’s Center for Ethics researched Legal and Illegal corruption in all 50 states three branches of government, and found Alabama wanting by most measures.

Of course, it neither helps that Alabama has a continuous and ongoing history of voting for one party, or the other – so that there’s rarely if ever a mix of parties in power. It’s quite literally, a bipolar type of operation, which goes from one extreme, to the other.

Alabama has had SIX constitutions, and the one under which it now labors is not even the best of the five which preceded it.

The state’s present constitution – the 1901 Constitution – has well over 900 amendments. That one thing alone makes it the most bloated and inefficient of any such type of governing document in the entire world – hands down, bar none.

The Dictionary of Alabama says this about Alabama’s 1901 Constitutional Convention:
“Called primarily to establish White supremacy by disfranchising Blacks, the Constitutional Convention of 1901 continues to shape Alabama politics in the twenty-first century. The convention also concentrated power in the state legislature, decreased opportunities for Home Rule, and established voter requirements that even many White men could not meet, reducing the political influence of the state’s many poor Whites. The 155 delegates to the Alabama Constitutional Convention of 1901 codified Black disfranchisement and increased the political power of the state legislature at the expense of local government.”

So when combined with the fact that it STILL contains racist language, and provisions which have been struck down as unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, which still remain in the 1901 Alabama State Constitution, it is quite evident that the people of the state are not merely sick, lazy, stupid, or oppressed, they are diseased to the point of death. It’s only by a miracle that the state has survived over 100 years of ongoing onslaught of such horrors as poverty, disease, racism, sexism, poor education, and more.

So it should come as no surprise that by any measure of the quality of life in the state, it continually comes up short.

Alabama needs a “Do Over.”

Alabama needs a New Constitution.

But unless and until the time the people of Alabama are tired of wallowing in such pig slop and come to their senses, they’ll continue to enjoy being the veritable pigs in mud that they are because of the 1901 State Constitution.

So, for your “enjoyment,” here are numerous measures of various qualities of life, and government, the measures by and of which Alabama is forever and annually coming up short.

Rank – Quality Measure – Agency – Year

48 – Day Care Centers, by National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies, 2015

7 – Family Child Care Homes, NACCRRA, 2015
ref: https://usa.childcareaware.org/

30 – Overall K-12 Public Education, Education Projects in Education Research Center, 2013

44 – K-12 Achievement, EPERC, 2014
ref: https://www.edweek.org/ew/collections/quality-counts-2018-state-grades/index.html

46 – Overall Rank
ref: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/alabama

48 – Kids Count survey, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2011
ref: https://eji.org/news/alabama-ranks-48-out-of-50-in-quality-of-life-for-children

42 –Child Well-Being, 2018 Kids Count Data Book, Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2018
ref: http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20180729/state-ranks-42nd-in-child-well-being

3 – High Speed Related Deaths, U.S. Department of Highway Traffic Safety, 2016
ref: https://www.timesdaily.com/news/crime/state-is-no-in-speed-related-deaths/article_1e38a907-bc57-5b1b-87dc-d3fe1445dccb.html

49 – Personal Freedom, CATO Institute, 2016
ref: https://www.freedominthe50states.org/personal/alabama

6 – Best Place to Retire, 2018
ref: https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/retirement/T006-S001-all-50-states-ranked-for-retirement-2018/index.html

37 – Worst to Best State Economy, Business Insider, 2014
ref: https://www.businessinsider.com/ranked-the-50-us-state-economies-2014-8#37-alabama-14

46 – State Health Rankings, United Health Foundation, 2015
ref: https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20971898,00.html#46-alabama

35 – Business Tax Climate overall, Tax Foundation, 2018
ref: https://taxfoundation.org/publications/state-business-tax-climate-index/

30 – Unemployment, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
ref: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm

28 – State Pension Plan Funding, The Fiscal Times,
ref: http://assets.thefiscaltimes.com/TFT2_20101228/App_Data/MediaFiles/8/A/7/%7B8A7FE094-134E-4AE4-AF90-392E8F0DBA7E%7D03222011_State_Pensions_2.1.pdf

49 – Worst to Best State Economy, Business Insider, 2015
ref: https://www.businessinsider.com/state-economy-ranking-july-2015-2015-7/#49-alabama

45 – Per Capita GDP, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2017 (1997-2017)
ref: https://apps.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?0=1200&isuri=1&reqid=70&step=10&1=1&2=200&3=sic&4=1&5=xx&6=-1&7=-1&8=-1&9=70&10=levels#reqid=70&step=10&isuri=1&7003=200&7035=-1&7004=naics&7005=1&7006=xx&7036=-1&7001=1200&7002=1&7090=70&7007=-1&7093=levels

40 – Per Capita Personal Income, 2017/18
ref: https://www.bea.gov/data/income-saving/personal-income-by-state

12 – State Fiscal Condition, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, 2017
ref: https://www.mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings

41 – Best Place to Start a Business, WalletHub, 2018
ref: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-start-a-business/36934/

44 – Safest States, WalletHub, 2018
ref: https://wallethub.com/edu/safest-states-to-live-in/4566/

4 – Most Federally Dependent, WalletHub, 2018
ref: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/

47 – Most/Least Affected by Tax Reform (low income families), WalletHub, 2018
ref: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-affected-by-tax-reform/47861/

44 – Public School Rankings, WalletHub, 2018
ref: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-schools/5335/

41 – Top States Overall, 2018
ref: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/10/top-states-for-business-alabama.html

46 – Alabama (Attainment Rank: 45; Quality Rank: 40) Educational Attainment, Forbes (U.S. Census Bureau)
ref: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2018/02/01/the-most-and-least-educated-states-in-the-u-s-in-2018/

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