More evidence Illinois has jumped the shark
Herald-News editorial July 5, 2012 9:20PM
Updated: August 7, 2012 6:31AM
The state of Illinois officially has decided to protect sharks.
Poor people? Not so much. Poor people suffering from mental illness? Doubtful. Hey, money’s tight, haven’t you heard?
As for sharks, we will let no fin-grabbing, shark-peddling villain go unpunished. It’s a good thing there are no sharks within several hundred miles of the Chicago area, aside from the Shedd Aquarium, but that’s a small detail.
Here’s the larger deal. A state budget is not only a financial document, it’s a statement of values. A government, and by inference the people it represents, reveals what it cares about by what it decides to pay for.
Thus in the same weekend, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office revealed he signed the 2013 state budget that closes mental health centers to save money, including the Tinley Park Mental Health Center, and announced that Illinois is committed to saving sharks.
The governor says removing patients from state hospitals for smaller, community-based settings will improve the “quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.”
There is no reputable evidence these vulnerable people leaving inpatient care will see better care and conditions, and many in the mental health field doubt that will happen. But it will, Quinn says, trust me.
As for the shark protection plan, we acknowledge that it’s generally a good idea to be part of a worldwide conservation effort. The world threat to sharks is real, the trade in their fins is real.
But to make a statewide ban on trafficking and eating shark fins actually work would require enforcement, which means police powers, which means arrests and fines, which means judges and courts.
All government costs. Which means you will pay for it.
We choose to be worried less about sharks and more about protecting mentally disabled citizens evicted from inpatient care and tossed into the waiting arms of “community solutions.”
Quinn’s assurances shouldn’t convince anyone that the right thing is being done.