“We’ve trended toward more freedoms for law-abiding citizens.” That’s how Missouri State Senator Brian Munzlinger recently described the outlook of the Missouri legislature.
I have been thinking about which citizens have been receiving these “freedoms.” A partial list of some of these “freedoms,” enacted and proposed, helps me arrive at the answer:
- Freedom to overturn the will of the people who voted against conceal/carry weapon in 1999
- Freedom for lenders to charge exorbitant interest rates
- Freedom for health insurers to raise premiums without oversight
- Freedom to reduce taxes on corporations
- Freedom of businesses to curb the rights of unions
- Freedom for candidates and legislators to take as much money from lobbyists as they can get
Now it becomes clear: Follow the money. Our legislators are protecting the groups that put and keep them in office. They are protecting:
- The freedom of the gun lobbyists to help sell as many weapons as possible
- The freedom of the banking lobbyists to enable payday lenders to earn money at the expense of the vulnerable working poor
- The freedom of the health insurance lobbyists to protect insurers from disclosing the reasons for their rate increases
- The freedom of large corporate lobbyists to assist corporations in avoiding taxes to fund the services of the people in the state in which they do business
- The freedom of the” right to work” lobbyists to allow businesses to pay low wages giving their employees “the right to work for less.”
But what freedoms do we, the law abiding citizens of the state of Missouri—and other states, too—really need? Freedom from the grip of the moneyed few. We need to have our voices heard above the din of the lobbyists.
Mary Clemons, retired but not retiring, moved from being an armchair progressive to becoming an active advocate for issues of social justice. She credits her new found skills in writing and speaking out to Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice. She is immediate past president of the organization.