At bottom, I voted for the jail operation levy because I fear the privatization of public services at any level.

I knew my vote meant wrecking plans for needed district courtrooms, reducing motivation to solve overcrowding, installing an untested bureaucracy, condoning the well-meaning campaign of a local committee, genuflecting at the alter of a bigger status quo, and accepting higher taxes.

But if this levy failed, we would be at a Y without a map. The levy offered only one way out: build more. But the other paved road to perdition? Privatization.

Mineral County recently shut its jail. When taxpayers or their elected officials refuse to pay for this essential service, it's possible that even tiny jails, like tiny schools in tiny towns, could become sources of profit. Franchise jails, anyone?

Worse, a prison corporation now offers to let Montanans spend our $30 million to solve a state budget crisis by extending the private prison contract. Supported by Republican legislators, this would avoid taxing rental cars or tourists. Anything to avoid a tax. This is the Shock Doctrine: extend privatized services whenever a crisis happens.

How to create crises? The Republican Congressional plan to eliminate the federal tax deduction on state and local taxes would increase the federal income tax we pay, thereby increasing the actual price of state prisons, local jails, public schools, etc. Their plan also cuts corporate taxes, making more money available to make more money. More prisoners, anyone?

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We must not vote in a bubble. That's why I voted "yes."

Bob Filipovich



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