It is unconscionable that a bill to help right our state’s eugenics wrong – as if it could ever be truly righted – should still be languishing in the legislature.
Remember, North Carolina’s eugenics program, under which thousands of people were forcefully sterilized between 1929 and 1974 for supposedly being mentally or physically unfit, is said to have been the most horrendous such program in the nation. Yet still our representatives in Raleigh find excuses to dawdle and do nothing.
Actually, it is the state Senate doing the dawdling. The House of Representatives opted overwhelmingly (86-31) last week to provide $50,000 in compensation to each of the living victims of this atrocity. The measure was supported by both House Speaker Thom Tillis and House Majority Leader Paul Stam.
But the bill stalled in the Senate, where Majority Leader Phil Berger seems content to let it lie around a while longer, perhaps wishing the whole thing will wither on the vine.
“What’s the right amount for victims to receive?” Berger asked. “And where would the money come from in a tight state budget?”
Sadly, it seems like Senator Berger is THE ONLY ONE making sense on this issue. We’ve got record unemployment in the state. We owe billions to the federal government for extended unemployment insurance claims. Our economy is sliding down the toilet, and the folks at The Pilot want to keep flushing.
The Pilot’s position is akin to me demanding that Pilot publisher David Woronoff give everybody on the paper’s payroll a $20,000 pay raise. They have been working SO hard for SO many years for SO little money. It’s an injustice that needs to be corrected.
This whole eugenics thing occurred between 1929 and 1974. Democrats have controlled the legislature from 1929 to 2010 (with the exception of four years). Where was ALL of this outrage when Democrats ran things on Jones Street? Why couldn’t those Democrat majorities get this done during all that time?
Oh, did I mention: the plan calls for paying $50,000 to about 2,000 people. My calculator says that adds up to about $100 million in unbudgeted TAX DOLLARS.
Those questions have been hashed and rehashed as the thing has bounced around for 10 years now, while legislative leaders practiced avoidance. A solid proposal has been hammered out under a bipartisan consensus, a good degree of momentum has developed, the House has passed it, and this is no time for further obstructionism. (The latest Republican excuse is that they won’t approve the compensation because Senate Democrats included it in a failed budget amendment earlier in the week
Come on. Pass the thing, distribute the money to the victims (an earlier proposal to also compensate the survivors of deceased victims was wisely set aside), and move on down the road. It’s the least we as a state can do to offer some recompense, however inadequate, for a policy of unspeakable inhumanity.
Actually, refusing to fund something BECAUSE WE CAN’T AFFORD IT is smart policy. Kudos to Senator Berger and his team for raising these important questions.
Another idea: The Pilot’s owners — who used to own that extreme far-right rag The News & Observer in Raleigh — got overpaid by gazillions when they sold the paper in the early to mid-90s. The Daniels family OWNED The N&O between 1929 and 1974, when all of this eugenics stuff was happening. The N&O at that time was a notorious cheerleader for everything and anything Democrat during that era. (Some say they still ARE.) North Carolina Democrats– cheered on by The N&O — were spearheading the sterilization project.
The current generation of the Daniels clan — sitting on those gazillions — could assuage some of their liberal guilt by writing a few checks to these survivors themselves. After all, their family was in a very influential position while this was going on — and apparently neither said nor did anything to stop it.
Let the North Carolina Democrat Party and the Daniels clan pay this bill. Give the beleaguered, worn-out overtaxed people of North Carolina A BREAK.