I love my state. Let me say up front that Alabama is my home, and always will be, no matter where I go. I was born in Georgia, but have lived the majority of my life in the yellowhammer state. I’m intimately acquainted with all the good in it, as well as the bad.
But when I look at the Alabama legislature, I understand why things are so bad–and why they will likely continue to be.
Alabama ranks ninth in poverty, nationally; 1 in 4 Alabamians is functionally illiterate; 26 percent of the state lives below the poverty line. That number is even higher for families with single mothers: 51 percent. Our property taxes are among the lowest in the nation, but we add sales taxes to grocery sales. Some 152,000+ of our residents are unemployed. Countless others are underemployed. Shelby County went broke. Went. Fucking. Broke. Our schools are so under-funded that teachers who want their classrooms to be adequately equipped must buy that equipment out of pocket–with no guarantee of recompense. The state is broke and broken–and everyone, regardless of their political slant, can see it. They just don’t seem willing to do anything about it.
So what does the Alabama legislature want to discuss? How to make abortions more difficult to get. Because that’s clearly the biggest problem facing the state today.
You want to address abortion? Make sure health classes teach the importance of condoms or other birth control in order to cut down unwanted pregnancies. Educate kids. Tell them that condoms help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
And speaking of kids: We’re so damned concerned about abortion, but the very churchy types who protest abortion would cluck their tongues and look down on the teenage mothers raising children. Those children, I might add, who would be nothing more than “a drain on taxpayers.” They’re subhuman, you see? Not even people, just little crying, needy parasites that feed off of the state.
Here’s how you address abortion: the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed abortion is legal, and that women have a right to access that procedure. Whatever you may personally think about abortion DOES NOT FUCKING MATTER. So leave it alone. Turn your attention to something you can control.
What’s wrong with Alabama is that we do not have adults in charge of our state. We have no one smart enough or mature enough or outright man enough to say “THESE are our issues, and if we don’t start addressing them, we’re going to go down the fucking drain.”
A laundry list of the challenges Alabama faces: How do we make our schools (and municipalities) solvent? How do we improve our literacy ratings? How do we improve our school systems overall to make our children more competitive with the rest of the country, not to mention the rest of the world? How do we improve our jobs situation? How do we ensure our children get a chance at a college education? How do we stop taxpayer dollars from fleeing to GA & FL to play the lottery? Why do our best and brightest leave for other states as soon as they can? How do we ease the tax burden on the poorest among us while ensuring the richest pay their fair share?
These are all hard issues. They’re issues that should be looked at from all angles. But we don’t look. We sing “Sweet Home Alabama” when it comes on the radio and turn a blind eye to the problems around us. It’s ridiculous.
We have a legislature that would rather look at anything else but the real issues everyone in Alabama faces. We have news outlets that would rather concentrate on a fucking disabled cruise ship as it docks in Mobile than report on anything that affects our state. We have reporters who have traded integrity for access, and politicians who have traded good sense for personal security. So we discuss how to make abortions more difficult to access while our state–our great, beautiful, amazing state–swirls the fucking drain.
If the nimrods in the state legislature want to actually HELP Alabama, they have one clear choice: suck it up and be an adult. Look at the hard problems. Find solutions. Shut the hell up about things that don’t matter and are out of your control anyway. It’s not too late. There is so much about Alabama that could be wonderful. But that’s not going to happen until someone mans up.
“Alabama: At least we’re not Mississippi” isn’t good enough. It never was. We should stop pretending that it is.