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Inmates, Soda Pop, and Self-Important Reporters

Not long ago, I read an article by Carla Axtman entitled This ain’t Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” It refers to a Jeff Mapes article that addresses a new group called Common Sense Oregon that claims to, among other things, sniff out government waste. If you followed the links, it’s all about soda pop! Though I took issue with Carla’s title (mostly for fun), she took the time to include links to important considerations in corrections funding. Jeff gets a little paranoid about who’s funding/behind Common Sense Oregon. It seems both the left and the right are suspicious of big money, but use it prodigiously! For example, on the right, if George Soros funded it – well, it’s evil left. On the other (left) hand, if Loren Parks funded it – well, it’s the evil right.

Regardless, Jeff and Carla’s articles are reasonably balanced (though left leaning) and informative. If you read Common Sense Oregon’s blurb on the $3/4 of a million spent on soda for inmates, you’ll find it lacks the very common sense they claim to promote by using more snarky than reasoned information. Rather than respond to Max Williams’ response, Common Sense Oregon snarks:

Department of Corrections Chief Max Williams claims that food like soda pop is an important tool for managing prisoners. Perhaps if the prisoners weren’t hopped up on sugar from the free soda pop they are getting, there wouldn’t be a management problem.

Common Sense Oregon doesn’t bother with a reasoned response to Max Williams – they seem to use Saul Alinsky’s notion of using ridicule to win. I don’t know how other people weigh arguments, but I tend to dismiss people who use ridicule, arguing to the person, or red herrings to win debates. With that in mind, I’ll mention the last article about the soda pop and prison that was as bad as or worse than Common Sense Oregon.

Too many people with limited life experience make public charges. The Group “Common Sense For Oregon”, which frankly I had never heard of, has managed to get news attention over its non-revelation that Oregon is spending, according to them, $773,000 for free soda pop for prisoners.

The first point to make in regard to this, is that we have 1 out of 31 Americans incarcerated today and it is a national shame. So why are they there? One reason is the simple fact that new laws are continually enacted and implemented, further outlawing more and more activity. (Tim King)

“The first point to make in regard to this,” is that Tim King misuses statistics provided by a PEW Center report – and seems to do it deliberately. There are not 1 in 31 people incarcerated in the United States. There are 1 in 31 people under “correctional control,” meaning “prison, jail, probation, or parole.” The word Incarcerated actually does mean “to put in prison,” or “subject to confinement.” For those actually incarcerated see the PEW Center’s report 1 in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008.
At best, this is disingenuous.

If you read to the end of Tim King’s article, you’ll find it is filled with arguments to the person, ridicule, and red herrings. Moreover, you’ll find at the very end a paragraph describing his 20 odd years of experience – which is probably why he opens his article with “Too many people with limited life experience make public charges.” I’m not certain if this refers only to the amount (time lived) or variety of life experience, but I’m pretty certain a young person with limited experience is still capable of making a prudent and accurate public charge. Moreover, that an old man with a variety of experience is capable of making an imprudent and specious public charge – or even self-righteous accusations about another person or organization’s motives. My daughter tries to avoid mean spiritedness, seems Tim and Common Sense Oregon could both do the same.

Though I agree with Tim King’s assertion that the inmates should have the soda, it is not for the non-reasons he provides: it is because I agree with Max Williams – who probably actually does have more life experience with inmates and corrections operations than does good old Timmy. 😉


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