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Solving the unsolvable problem of Medicaid and Prisons

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY–The State of Alabama is faced with a growing storm of crisis. It mounts on two fronts and culminates momentarily in September with a vote on a constitutional amendment to allow the government to take $540 million over three years from the principle of the ATF.

In the balance is the future of Alabama’s Medicaid and prison system both which are not very popular programs with the public at large.

Finding a real solution to our Medicaid and prison problem is much like “What the Tortoise say to Achilles,” written by Lewis Carroll. In Carroll’s work, the tortoise challenges Achilles to use the force of logic to make him accept the conclusion of a simple deductive argument. Ultimately, Achilles fails, because the clever tortoise leads him into an infinite regression.

When trying to solved the problems of Medicaid it would seem that we will have to address the fundamental problem called the poor and to deal with prisons we need to try to piece together the problem of the criminal. Since there is a tendency especially among conservatives to look backward to find answers, we will become engrossed in a discussion that, like Carroll’s tortoise, which will lead us into a infinite regression. To Genesis?

Fact is that humans are ill equipped to fix the problems of the poor or the criminal, so we put various programs in place to minimize the harm that happens to them or society.

In Alabama as in the much of the country, Medicaid and prisons consume mammoth amounts of taxpayer’s dollars.

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Legislators, many being politicians first and public servants a distant second, find ways to maximize political gain while minimizing political impact on their next election.

As a result the state government is asking the citizens of Alabama to approve raiding its saving account to fund friendless programs. People don’t like to give money to people they don’t like. But if you don’t want to have criminals back on the street and grandma ejected from the nursing home then you must fund something you don’t like, is the rhetoric applied to the argument.

No doubt that the state is strapped for cash, so, when faced with cutting popular programs to fund ones that are not so popular the government did what governments do, they punted. Sometimes the only thing that makes sense is to kick the ball away and hope for a break later in the game.

Over the next several months a battle will be waged over this issue and the impending vote on the constitutional amendment.

Rather than stand aside and watch the sideshow, the Alabama Political Reporter will write a series of articles to offer analysis of the current state of these programs, what would be the outcome if they are unfunded and what could be possible solutions for the future.

We will be interview a host of people and organizations to find the answers to these questions. While this is a very ambitious undertaking for so small an organization we feel it is our job to take on this task. 
There is an old story of a King who called all his wisest councilors together and ask them to begin a seemingly impossible task. After a few months the King call his councilors back into his chambers and ask about their progress. Each councilors gave reasons as to why the task could not completed. After they spoke the KIng sentence them all to death. They cried out to know the offense which was to cost them their lives. The King answered, “I did not ask you to complete the task only to begin.”

So, it is we start knowing that we can never complete the task only start.

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Lastly, I am reminded of something my old friend  George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, and here I paraphrase, “We learn from history what we do not learn from history.”

What do you get from a pair of phrases? Two sentences.

Written By

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.



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