28 September 2008

New York Times Article Link: "Sarah Palin and the Rape Kits"

The following's a link to a New York Times Editorial Observer article by Dorothy Samuels, published on 25th September, 2008, which alleges that Sarah Palin, while serving as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, along with the town's police chief, Charlie Fannon, signed off of a policy in which rape victims were billed by the town's hospital for the cost of the rape kits used in investigating their cases.

While Palin apparently said nothing about this policy, Fannon, in an interview with Wasilla's local newspaper, "complained that the state was requiring the town to spend $5,000 to $14,000 a year to cover the costs. "I just don't want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer," the chief explained."

When the Alaska State Legislature heard about Wasilla's policy on billing victims for the rape kits, it passed a bill in 2000 killing that policy.

When I first read the article, I was incensed, and, in fact, have only gotten angrier still.

Whatever the reasons behind it, and, according to Ms. Samuels' article, there's speculation in the blogosphere that the billing policy is rooted in Ms. Palin's pro-life orientation, I won't speculate on what they might have been.

But, I would say that, generally speaking, this measure reflects the sort of penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude that are found in not only the town of Wasilla, or the state of Alaska, but, more broadly speaking, in much of the American West, including my home town and state of Nevada, the United States, and indeed, the English-speaking world.

Historically, there has been a general attitude in the English-speaking world that, unless a given problem is either hitting the rich and influential classes hard, or is so enormous that it absolutely has to be dealt with, of "We shall muddle through".

Combine that with the inevitable whining, and there's a lot of it, anytime any government programme, especially those intended for the poor and working classes and other marginalised groups, comes up, "But, it'll cost moooonnnneeeeyyyy!!!!", and I think one can see the pattern here.

The pattern can be summed up thusly, "Me first, and don't you DARE make me pay one cent of taxes for it!!!"

These attitudes, spawned by the kinds of social and economic attitudes that come out of both capitalism and of being a conquest society, and folks, outside of Merrie Olde England itself, the rest of the English-speaking world is made up of conquest societies, in which the countries' original inhabitants were conquered, subjugated or eliminated, and workers brought in by either fair means or foul, to provide the labour needed to build those polities as cheaply as possible, make for a kind of disgustingly arrogant, entitled mentality which, at its core, wants government services and money as much as the next person, but doesn't want to pay for any of it, whatsoever.

These attitudes, while found perhaps everywhere in the English-speaking world, are found most starkly in the US, though Australians are no slouches when it comes to this sort of arrogance either, and especially in the American South and West, including Alaska, where they are on greater and more open display than in either the North or Midwest.

Doesn't mean, BTW, that one can't find those attitudes in the latter regions of the US. It's just that in those societies, being more economically diversified and better developed in their social infrastructures, the competition for resources aren't quite as stark, and the attitudes that come with it not quite as dramatically displayed much of the time.

The economies of the Southern and Western portions of the US have traditionally been, although there has been a greater amount of industrial diversification in those regions in recent decades, traditionally based on either agriculture, including ranching, extractive industries, like mining or oil, or hospitality-based industries, like casino gambling.

These industries, and those at the top and upper middle levels of them, have generally prospered, and, in so doing, have amassed enough resources and power to obtain the kind of political and social positions that they'd not have had in more economically diverse parts of the world.

This means they have what is essentially a monopoly on political and social power in the regions they control, and everyone else can say what they like about it, but they're the ones in charge, and in many ways, overtly and subtly, most people in these regions go along with it, either out of hope of getting in on some of the action, fear of losing what they have, despair of ever changing the situation, or simply knowing only this situation and none other.

In turn, this means that local political, social and economic elites, especially in small towns like Wasilla, have both greater power and influence than they would otherwise have, but, at the same time, they still have to bow, scrape and truckle before the local, and, considering that many of these industries have been and are owned by individuals and companies from other parts of the world, outsider Lords Of Creation.

Not a happy situation to be in, sure. But, it's a lot happier than being on the very bottom, or close to, of these societies.

In the end, this means that such societies, and the individuals within them, are going to reflect those circumstances in their own ways, and, most of the time, the ideas, policies and actions made by most people in them are going to be to get as much as one can and to keep as much as one can, at everyone else's expense.

It is, in my opinion, this set of circumstances that ultimately lie behind policy decisions and implementations like Wasilla's charging rape victims for the cost of rape kits used in their cases, and it is frankly disgusting.

'Nuff said. The link's below. Please read and decide for yourselves, and be seeing you.


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