The first rule of any civilised society is that the most innocent and vulnerable as well as those with the most potential for a healthy and productive life must be looked after first and foremost. Such people include but are not limited to the young, the old, the ill, the frail and those with exceptional talent but meagre means. But taken holistically, it means that those who are the most innocent in life must necessarily have their needs and interests prioritised over those who are the most guilty. When it comes to defining the most guilty, the prison population of most nations is a good pace to begin.
This is why the bi-partisan support for a US Congressional bill on so-called “prison reform” which is enthusiastically backed by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner does all the wrong things at all the wrong times and for all the wrong reasons. The United States has some of the worst publicly funded schools in the developed world and in some cases even many developing and poor nations have better education systems. Unlike most countries on the planet from Cuba to Russia, China to Germany, Venezuela to Poland, the US does not have any standardised public health system for the ill. The farce that is Obamacare simply forced Americans on ordinary incomes to pump their money into an already bloated and deeply corrupt multinational insurance industry.
Instead of addressing these desperately pressing issues, the US House of Representatives just passed the First Step Act by a walloping 360-59 majority. This is the kind of bipartisan majority that is unheard of on bills designed to improve schools, hospitals and roads. The only other time the Congress is typically so united is when voting for more war and foreign interventions.
At the very minimum, the millions that will be spent should the bill pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by an enthusiastic Donald Trump, represent millions that could have and should have been spent on people who are not criminals. A good education is the best tool in life that helps people to avoid a depraved or criminal adulthood. Everything from paying good teachers more to providing healthier school meals for children, to putting money into both physical education and musical/cultural education should automatically be a priority over a bill which pumps money into so-called “rehabilitation programs” for incarcerated criminals.
China, which has a notoriously strict criminal justice and prison system is also a country with one of the finest education systems in the modern world. Furthermore, China has a uniform public health system and the streets of China’s large cities put the central areas of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to shame in terms of cleanliness, modernity and utility.
It is this combination which has put China in the global driving seat for innovation, production, modernisation and all of the other factors which contribute to President Xi Jinping’s push to built a moderately prosperous society.
By contrast, the United States has lost sight of what moderate prosperity looks like. Moderate prosperity is a society where people who work hard and obey the law are able to live without worrying about homelessness, hunger or illness. Increasingly, the United States is unable to provide the conditions which lead to such a moderately prosperous environment.
While the US would have the ability to provide for all of these things if the money spent on foreign war was curtailed, in any circumstance, those behind bars should always be put last in the list of priorities behind everyone else, including those in the real world prison of uncontrollable debt.
Because of the similarities between the two major US parties, whenever they agree on something, it is usually due to a desire to waste more money, fight more wars or infringe on more personal liberty that is guaranteed by the US Constitution – a document which continues to be degraded by legislation like the so-called prison reform that is little more than an unethical waste of money which itself is nothing but a pet project of the incomparably incompetent Jared Kushner.