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It’s another year, but the same kinds of stories continue. Governors Jan Brewer (Arizona) and Haley Barbour (Mississippi) may be about 2000 miles apart but their conservative philosophies are about the same — and with similar results. 

Facing a budget crisis that plagues every state in the country, Brewer, like most other governors, has proposed huge cuts in human services, most notably in medical transplant coverage. This issue has received national attention as several residents face literally a life and death situation. As reported in the Arizona Republic, Laveen liver-disease patient Francisco Felix had raised $74,124 and Mesa heart-transplant hopeful Randy Shepherd had raised $52,720, according to the organization. Both need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars more.” Like neighboring states of California and Nevada, there will be no new taxes, especially on the wealthy and so services to those most in need will be cut. Let the sick and the lame die off the Brewer seems to be saying. 

Meanwhile, Arizona spends $880 million per year to lock up its prisoners and there are plans to add 15,000 beds during the next four years. Heaven forbid that anyone should consider increasing support for things like education that could reduce crime. We need to be tough on criminals, no matter what the costs! 

In Mississippi, ultra-conservative Governor Haley Barbour approved the release of the Scott sisters (Gladys and Jaime) after they spent more than 20 years in prison for a robbery that netted about $11. But there was a catch: as reported by Bob Herbert in the New York Times The prison terms were suspended — not commuted — on the condition that Gladys donate a kidney to Jaime, who is seriously ill with diabetes and high blood pressure and receives dialysis at least three times a week.” Both are African-American, which is not unusual in the modern prison system. What was a bit unusual was that Barbour had already given pardons to four convicted murders and a suspended life sentence for another murderer. It reminds me of the compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush. Like Bush, Barbour’s compassion is shaped by the bottom line” in that he wants to save the $200,000 per year cost of dialysis for one of the sisters. 

It remains to be seen what the final outcome of this will be. Many have wondered what will happen if Gladys’ kidney is not a match for Jaime. 

What a country!