After raising taxes, concealing public records and the whitewashing of history seem like the highest objectives of the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly.
The Democrats would erase a range of misdemeanor and felony convictions a few years after such convictions are entered. The Democrats see this as a civil rights measure, on the premise that criminal prosecutions have gone disproportionately against racial minorities. The Democrats overlook that the longstanding association of poverty, crime, and race is a fact of history, and they seem to have given up on making people self-sufficient, instead seeking only to manage poverty in perpetuity by covering it up.
A similar premise operates with the Democratic legislation to conceal housing court records, thereby preventing landlords from fully evaluating potential tenants. The virus epidemic provides no excuse here, since government has imposed moratoriums on evictions and has established funds to help unemployed tenants and their landlords, and since an eviction caused by the economic depression signifies only a tenant's misfortune, not his misconduct.
Drug convictions are among those the Democrats would conceal. While drug criminalization always has been futile, it has been constitutional, everyone has been obliged to obey it, and such convictions do convey something about character. So what about fairness to people who obeyed drug laws and thus forfeited profit from the contraband trade? The Democratic legislation makes them chumps.
Only the federal courts have saved Connecticut from what otherwise would be an abomination now. Two teenagers have been charged in the April 10 murder of a 3-year-old boy in Hartford, a shocking atrocity, and if the Democratic legislators had gotten their way, the identities of the defendants would be concealed and their trials would be secret in accordance with a state law enacted two years ago.
That law also was portrayed as a civil rights measure, though for centuries secret trials have been mechanisms of persecution and railroading.
Fortunately two federal courts have found the secret trials law unconstitutional and state government recently agreed to disregard it. But the premise of Democratic policy here remains entrenched. It is that the public should be kept ignorant. Then government escapes accountability.
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ORPHANS AND PUPPIES: Because of the cascade of cash, $6 billion, being bestowed on Connecticut from Washington, state and municipal government here will be having a grand old time for the next couple of years. But Governor Lamont's plan for spending state government's share of the money implies a warning about the years after that.
That is, the governor would use almost $1.8 billion of the federal money just to cover the big deficits that are projected in the regular state budget because spending commitments continue to exceed tax revenue. Two years from now those deficits will reappear unless spending is cut or taxes are raised. Such allocation of the federal money could be called "kicking the can down the road."
But then the governor could argue that life itself is one long can kick, and the deficits won't reappear until after he has faced re-election.
In this respect the tax hunger of many Democratic state legislators could be construed as more responsible than the governor's opposition to major tax increases.
The governor's plan for the federal money recognizes some compelling needs, if not as much as they should be recognized. But one of those needs – kindergarten readiness programs – signifies the most profound lack of parenting.
Connecticut has tens of thousands of children who arrive in kindergarten three grades behind where they should be, having been deprived of ordinary care and stimulation at home. Most of these homes are heavily subsidized by government on the premise that this is cheaper than taking direct responsibility for the neglected children, who are essentially orphans.
This financial calculation by the government is correct only if the lifelong costs of child neglect – educational failure, physical and mental illness, crime, and general misery – are not tallied. So, state government doesn't tally them. Nor does it audit the cause of child neglect – welfare policy.
Even puppies and kittens are treated better. They are put up for adoption.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.