☛ America on lockdown: Why the private prison industry is exploding
(Warning: source link contains gross pop-up ads. You may prefer the Instapaper-formatted version.)
Quoting from the above:
On a recent Friday afternoon, with budget negotiations winding down, Arizona state representative John Kavanagh was racing against the clock. His position as House Appropriations Chairman afforded him the opportunity to stuff whatever minor extra provisions he wanted into the budget before it went to a vote the following Monday, and he only had a few hours left to do it.
What was Kavanagh frantically trying to accomplish for his constituents at the last minute? Extra funding for education, since Arizona spends less on educating its children than all but three states? No, Rep. John Kavanagh was trying to secure an extra $900,000 gift for the GEO Group, the billion-dollar private prison corporation whose state lobbyists came to him at the last second begging with upturned hats. The $45 million already earmarked for the maintenance of low- and medium-security facilities wasn’t enough, they said.
The Arizona Department of Corrections didn’t ask for the extra money, nor did anybody push for the prison funds to be included in the Senate budget.
“This came out of nowhere — I mean that,” Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell told the Arizona Republic. “No one said a word about it. It wasn’t in the Senate budget, it didn’t come as a request from DOC. There’s something really shady here.”
For Kavanagh, there was nothing shady about sweetening the deal with nearly a million extra dollars. On the contrary, he says, it was a moral imperative.
“If somebody cuts you a smoking deal and helps you when you’re down, and you get more money back, I think you morally have a responsibility to increase the payments,” Kavanagh told the Arizona Republic in a taped interview the following Monday.
A moral responsibility to help a private company which was already being paid $45 million.
It actually gets worse:
Arizona is one of four states (along with Virginia, Oklahoma and Louisiana) in which state governments are bound to contracts guaranteeing a 95%-100% occupancy in facilities leased by private prisons.
Think. About. That. They are obligated to keep the prisons full.
Matthew 25:31-46 (New Revised Standard Version)
(31) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. (32) All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, (33) and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. (34) Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; (35) for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ (37) Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? (38) And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? (39) And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ (40) And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,) you did it to me.’ (41) Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; (42) for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, (43) I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ (44) Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ (45) Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
TL;DR: “Dear Arizona state representative John Kavanagh and everyone else who allows this to happen: Jesus says He hopes that you enjoy the eternal fire of hell.”
The rest of the article is well worth your time. I couldn’t bear to quote any more of it.
Hey Friends & Listeners, I just wanted to update you on why it has been so long between episodes.
In March, I had to travel to Massachusetts for a death in the family, and ended up being gone for about two weeks. When I arrived back, it now getting close to Easter (a busy time for me) plus I had obviously been gone for two weeks, so there was a lot of stuff to catch up on.
Just in time for me to return, Lindsay’s Cheese Monger Day Job went into an extremely busy time period, and she’s been working crazy long hours.
(I’m going to pause here to brag on her a bit: she was promoted to manager awhile ago, her store is flourishing, and the company she works for is doing some really cool things for her in recognition of her awesomeness.)
Unfortunately, Lindsay recently found out that her apartment building had been sold and she has to move by the end of April (it was either that or accept a new lease as much higher rent with no actual improvements). She has found a new place, but, as most of you know, moving, especially getting ready to move, is basically the worst thing ever.
Sooooo… yeah. Things have been a bit crazy.
However, we wanted to let you know that we have not forgotten you or the show. We plan to be back as soon as possible, and will definitely let you know when we are. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
If you’d like to hear me talk about being a pastor, especially my nerdy process of sermon preparation, I was recently interviewed for the SermonSmith podcast. There’s also a little bio there I wrote about myself in the third person, which is always awkward, but there’s also a pretty decent picture of Tracey (aka “The Wife”), Ethan (“The Boy”), and me.
I was also on the Mac Power Users podcast Episode 181: Automation Workflows with TJ Luoma which was a lot of fun and talked about even more nerd things.
In 2003, I prepared for my consecration as a bishop by donning a bulletproof vest beneath my religious robes because of death threats from “good, religious people” who still believed that homosexual people are despicable in the eyes of God. As an openly gay man, elected as an Episcopal bishop, I was reviled even by other bishops in my own church. I know something about religion-based discrimination.
Is it a sin to have a temporary tattoo of spongebob on my clit?
Personally I’ve always found SpongeBob to be annoying, but just because I don’t like something doesn’t make it a sin, so I’m going to have to say no.
(I can’t help but remember “The Sponge” episode of Seinfeld. Of course your situation gives a whole new meaning to the question: “Are you SpongeWorthy?”)
I just finished listening to episode 18 of your podcast, but it seems you haven't posted any new episodes since then. Any particular reason for the hiatus?
Poor planning on our part. Yeah, sorry about that.
December was a pretty busy month for Lindsay’s “real world” job, and when we finally were able to find time to record an episode it was getting close to Christmas, so we figured people might not have time to listen. Then we neglected to tell Caleb that there was an episode waiting. Now, Caleb is a fantastic and talented editor (seriously, there isn’t a single episode where Lindsay and I don’t say “Caleb will have to fix that”) plus he’s really good at separating ‘wheat’ and ‘chaff,’ verbally speaking.) but TurnsOut™ he is not omniscient. (I know! We were surprised too!)
Anyway… long story short: it was our fault, but here’s the good news! We’re back! In fact, we have a new episode available right now!
Episode #19: January 20th, 2014: He’s Still Got That ‘New Pope’ Smell
We’ve plan to release on a more reliable schedule, and we’ve already started working to get a little ahead.
Thanks for your patience!
☛ Utah Is on Track to End Homelessness by 2015 With This One Simple Idea
Utah has reduced its rate of chronic homelessness by 78 percent over the past eight years, moving 2000 people off the street and putting the state on track to eradicate homelessness altogether by 2015. How’d they do it? The state is giving away apartments, no strings attached. In 2005, Utah calculated the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for an average homeless person was $16,670, while the cost of providing an apartment and social worker would be $11,000. Each participant works with a caseworker to become self-sufficient, but if they fail, they still get to keep their apartment.
Huh. Maybe this is something more places ought to look into.
Also: when and how did Utah become “progressive”?
In a fundraising email to supporters, Ian Bayne, who is running in the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) in the 11th District, compared Robertson to Rosa Parks. The fundraising email began: “Today, Ian Bayne called Phil Robertson, star of the A&E series “Duck Dynasty,” the ‘Rosa Parks’ of our generation.”
“In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians,” Bayne wrote in the email. “What Parks did was courageous.” Bayne added in the email that “what Robertson did was courageous too.”
Running is the language that we speak—the spirit coming down into you in your own unique way,” he says. “For a normal, sedentary, churchgoing person, this doesn’t make sense. For a runner this is a very natural thing… . I can’t go to church and meditate on scripture because I can’t sit still. The runner already thinks of his run as a church service.”
The idea is to name God in what’s already going on in people’s lives. “This is not just about physical fitness,” he says. “Gardening could be your prayer life. Computer programming matters in the life of God. A life well lived is when you start to recognize that, hey, God is in all of this.
The Green Family, owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, has asked the US Supreme Court to grant them ‘conscience protection,’ exempting them from their obligations under the Affordable Care Act. They claim that their religious convictions don’t allow them to cover employees’ birth control.
As it happens, I know a little something about conscience protection. I’m a Quaker–one of the groups for whom the first conscience protection laws were created.
Is Pope Francis Leaving Vatican At Night To Minister To Homeless?
Fundamentalists live life with an exclamation point. I prefer to live my life with a question mark.
Amos Oz (“a renowned Israeli author” as quoted in Midrash by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, pg 17.)
Is there a good primer on morality without religion? As someone who is, at best, agnostic I I've never had a good answer when asked "how can you have morals if you don't believe in God?".
I’m probably the wrong person to ask, but I’m hoping maybe someone who reads this will have one.
Off the top of my head, I think I would say, “I try to live by the Golden Rule even though I don’t believe there’s a God who will reward me for it. I believe it’s the right thing to do and the right way to live.”
(When I wrote that, I was assuming that “the Golden Rule” is generally known, but just in case it’s not to someone who reads this, to someone from the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Golden Rule is: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “treat other people like you would want them to treat you.”)
As I was reading this morning, it occurred to me that reading Genesis literally is like keeping a tight grip on a roller coaster lap restraint. I’m not a fan of tortured analogies, but this one seems to work very well. I’m sure others have made similar analogies, but I thought it might be worth a share. What do you think?