Legislature lacks concern for ND children

The issue of homeless students in North Dakota has come to the fore in the last couple of weeks. Homeless in North Dakota? Even though a variety of public and private entities offer services, kids are still falling in the cracks.

We shouldn’t be surprised because a global look at our neglect of children in this state reflects our “bootstraps” orientation to life is one of private sector capitalism and not compassion for the needy.

Right now, the state is reaping millions of dollars more than expected from the energy sector. The first act of the legislature is not to check the needs of children but to cut an income tax that no longer taxes income.

Legislators lining up

According to columnist Rob Port, former State Senator Rick Becker has rounded up some 30 fellow travelers who are openly supporting repeal of property taxes – the financial foundation of schools, counties and cities – where many of the children’s needs are being met.

Without proposing a replacement revenue, Becker expects the solution to be provided by the legislature. That’s throwing the lamb to the wolves.

We already know that a replacement tax proposal would invite all of the lobbyists of interest groups to the Capitol to fight off any revenue source that would impair their operations. It would be a challenge beyond the ability of the present legislature.

Whose money?

Here we are hoarding billions in the so-called “legacy” fund. Whose legacy are we talking about? This generation of children are entitled to their share but tax cuts come first and that tells us a lot about the compassion in our elected representatives.

The state dialogue includes a lot of discussion about sanctity of life. Of course, we apply it only when it comes to abortion but it has broader meaning. Life of the born and unborn is the same.

A life is all some kids get while those of us in the middle and upper class float in a prosperity that makes Babylon jealous.

Sanctity of life

While the legislature keeps building a bigger haystack, we have children in school suffering from anxiety, mental disorders, hunger, abuse and homelessness. We need to sanctify the lives of these kids with compassion.

Because schools are understaffed and teachers overworked, the thousands of North Dakota kids are dropping or flunking out of school. There are “D” students who could be getting “Bs” and “Cs” but there are no tutors to help them fight the adversities. Every kid deserves a chance but not here.

And what happens to children with these “Cs” and “Ds”? They are marked for life as losers when, with a little help, their lives could be winners. For some, life becomes a waste.

Homeless at home

Let’s be blunt. Many kids are homeless at home. In fact, their “homes” are mere shadows of real supportive family life. Some parents shouldn’t even have children but their biology runs ahead of their ability to parent.

Children are supposed to be protected by society but this is not so in North Dakota when teenagers are raped and the evidence is sent to a lab where it rests for months without prosecution. That makes rape a crime without punishment.

Incest is a crime beyond belief. Rather than deal with it, we sweep it under the rug because if a victim squealed she would be forced to leave the home to “save the family.” Besides, who would believe her that an uncle – or cousin – or sibling – or dad would actually do such a hideous thing. Incest is the most hushed-up crime in North Dakota.

Sanctity should include life from the cradle to the grave and not just a fight over one public issue.


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