The Massachusetts Senate is open for business and a whopping 2,202 pieces of Senate legislation await co-sponsorship, dismissal, or eventual votes. It’s a daunting challenge to be well-informed on new legislation. Please look at this list I’ve put together and let me know your thoughts on particular bills.
You can’t claim to live in a democracy if it doesn’t have strong and widely-observed civil liberties. What we have instead is overwhelmingly a police and prison state sitting atop a playground for Capitalists. Many of the bills before the Legislature concern criminal “justice” reforms, including decarceration, treating substance abuse in jail, parole and probation reforms, and more accountability for guards and police. Not everybody behind bars is an animal, and not everybody with a badge is a saint. With a shocking 50% of all American families affected by prison, probation, parole, or the cruel stigma of prior incarceration, this and white supremacy are the top crises now afflicting America — not the lack of a border wall.
Speaking of which. Civil liberties don’t stop at the border. Over decades American “interventions” have created the human rights abuses, the collapse of democratic governments, and the economic and political chaos that asylum-seekers from Central America are now fleeing. We’ve had racist immigration and border patrol polices for generations and, to be honest, I’d much prefer to throw Trump and his tax-cheating, wife-cheating, white supremacist buddies out of the country — instead keeping hard-working Central Americans who may be here “illegally” but actually pay taxes and contribute to the Social Security system I depend on. And I don’t want to pay for my racist county sheriff to get to play ICE agent on the state dime. It turns out that by supporting the re-filed Safe Communities Act we also strengthen everyone’s Constitutional rights.
Over time I’ve noticed that the police and military seem to be the only constituency of importance to some legislators — mostly Republican, but some Democrats as well. These guys file bill after bill that scream — Blue Lives Matter! Khaki Lives Matter! To hell with teachers, garbage men, and anyone else who provides an essential service. This year’s Senate bills include legislation to make harming one of them a more serious offense than harming any other citizen. Some bills unfairly move vets to the front of the hiring line or eliminate training and age requirements for them. Or they give away state tax money for awards and allowances for federal military service.
Well, I’ve had it with the veneration of all things militaristic. It’s time to say no to all this legislation. The phrase “thank you for your service” has become a completely hollow slogan. Do we ever ask about the nature of the actual service rendered by a mercenary army or its true value? Does an unemployed or aimless guy who heads over to the local Army recruiter bear any responsibility for war crimes he wittingly or unwittingly participates in? Did he ever question what he was signing up to do? Does anyone really believe that a generation of wars and invasions has kept us safe? Are we not in fact guilty of destabilizing much of the Middle East and creating much of Europe’s refugee crisis? In the face of such weighty questions, these giveaways must be seen for what they really are — blood money.
The Massachusetts House has not published the text of any of its legislation, though only a week remains during which you can urge your representative to co-sponsor the mystery bills. As with so much that is wrong with the Massachusetts House, I’m inclined to blame it all on Bob DeLeo.