Kakocracy, 2018

by William Skink

As we head into 2018 Montanans are faced with two competing narratives for the state of our state. The narrative coming from the Governor’s office is one of delusional optimism because Steve Bullock wants to look good as he grooms himself for higher office. The other narrative can be pieced together from the stories beginning to come out about what the impacts of the budget crisis will mean for those experiencing the fear and uncertainty of lost services and support:

AWARE Inc., a large private provider of mental health and disability services to more than 3,000 individuals and families statewide with about 1,000 employees, shut down its office and two group homes in Kalispell this fall, eliminating 20 jobs and displacing at-risk children to other residential facilities and providers, although many families are still without services.

On the heels of those downsizing efforts, WMMHC, AWARE and other agencies are still facing additional cuts emanating from the regular legislative session and a special session convened in November to address the state’s budget crisis, caused by lower-than-expected revenues and exacerbated by a costly wildfire season.

Daly said she is “waiting with bated breath” to see what the forthcoming cuts look like in their final form as the governor’s office works out the finer details.

“We’re still waiting for the second shoe to drop as it relates to the governor’s cuts,” Daly said.

As Steve Bullock blows sunshine out of his ass, the reality is we still don’t know how bad these cuts will be. Here is another story, this one from the Missoulian:

An estimated 2,100 Montanans who have developmental disabilities will no longer be able to get targeted case management services from four existing providers statewide starting this spring.

The reduction in services, a product of state budget cuts, also means the loss of more than 70 jobs across the four organizations.

State officials have told the organizations the state will absorb some of the workload after the cuts, but no one was available Wednesday to describe how that would work.

Even positive development for some—like a booming economy in Bozeman—means increased struggles for others, like the rapidly increasing homeless population that can’t afford the skyrocketing cost of housing. MTPR has that story, which includes one young man’s account of working full time at $12 dollars an hour and still not being able to afford a place to live:

Shawn Christy is standing near some lockers, wearing a goatee and stocking cap. He’s been a guest here for more than a month. I ask him why he’s here tonight.

“Just because I don’t have to pay anything to be here,” Christy says.

Like a lot of guests at The Warming Center, Christy has a job but no home. He works full-time as a dishwasher making $12 an hour and says Bozeman is an pricey place to live.

“Even to get a low-end place would be like half a month’s work for me,” Christy says. “Between clothes and food there’s not a lot of room for housing.”

Over the past six years, the cost of a house in Gallatin County has risen by more than 50 percent while wages have remained relatively stagnant. This means many working people can’t afford a place to live and an increasing number end up homeless.

Montana will be experiencing further economic woes thanks to the disastrous tax cut legislation pushed through to conclude a disastrous year, creating an estimated 60-70 million dollar budget shortfall. Will it get bad enough for enough people to wake up to the class war being waged against them?

Life under this American Kakocracy will continue to deteriorate in 2018. If you don’t know what a Kakocracy is, I made a little video of my artistic interpretation of the term. Happy New Year.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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12 Responses to Kakocracy, 2018

  1. Eric says:

    I don’t think it will all be gloom and doom. We can sit down, and I can show you month end sales reports, and ever since January business has been good.

    It can’t just be our industry, and I suspect that as the Donald gets our economy firing on all cylinders that State Revenue will go up.

    Bullock is a lightweight, and I would dearly love to see him run for another office and get smacked down. What does he have to run on? He proved that there was no Schweitzerism without BS, and that’s about it. His NRA F-rating , and his bungling of the budget are strike 2 and strike 3.

  2. I have a few thoughts on this one, if you don’t mind me putting them out there.

    First, in regards to the Bozeman dishwasher. He’s making $12 an hour, full-time, which comes out to $1,920 a month…before taxes. His tip-share situation likely makes up for the taxes, however. So if he would have to pay half his pay in rent each month, he’d still have $960 left over to spend on other things.

    I feel individuals like this could get an apartment if they wanted to. Another option – and one that many young Montanans choose – is simply to move out of state. Jobs pay more, houses cost less. I had a cousin that bought a house in Indianapolis two years ago for $10,000 and fixed it up for another $10,000.

    When it comes to the cutting of services…yeah, it’s a problem and it’ll affect a lot of people. Could increase problems for our jails and emergency rooms, too. Still…and I know this is where I might get some backlash…most people don’t care.

    2,100 individuals not getting services out of a state population of over 1 million…well, it’s not that many. Most people aren’t affected by this. They don’t know people affected by this. Many citizens have more in common with that ‘struggling’ dishwasher than developmentally disabled Montanans that are seeing their services cut.

    The Montana GOP controls the narrative and the agenda in this state. Most voters agree with them, as our elections prove.

    There’s talk that 2018 will change this, and that it’ll be a banner year for Democrats. We’ll see. You make some very good points in this article, but I’m afraid when it comes time to vote, those points won’t matter.

    Anyways, thanks for your continued posts on this site.

    • maybe you’ll care when you lose your CHIP funding.

      • Congress has funded CHIP until April. I have a feeling they’ll extend funding beyond that date when they get back in session.

        I’d like to add that just about 9 million kids. We have 74 million people under the age of 18 in this country, so it seems that most families are able to get by quite fine without CHIP. If my family didn’t have it, we’d simply cut spending in other areas to make up for it. Most American families would do the same.

  3. *Eric says:

    But JC – the other side of the coin says that Montanans got along for generations without CHIP.

    We are starting to confuse entitlements with rights. They are not the same, are they?

    • you can say that Eric, but can you also acknowledge that vastly increased productivity for big business has NOT resulted in increased wages? and can you not acknowledge that the money from the tax cuts will primarily go to shareholders, stock buy-back schemes and increased automation? if you can’t acknowledge those realities then I’m not sure a discussion about “entitlements” is going to be all that productive.

      • “will primarily…”

        Where does the rest end up?

      • Eric says:

        Since January the company I work for has been doing well, and we all got raises. We didn’t earn a single quarterly bonus during the Obama economy, and we just hit the 4th one in a row. As hard as it is to find good employees, who are competent, show up for work, don’t smoke dope or partake in modern chemistry, companies are doing their best to retain people.

        The Donald will get the economy purring along, and you will see increased State Revenue again.

        • Big Swede says:

          That and the weather Eric. In fact it’s so cold outside here lately I swear I’ve seen Democrats with their hands in their own pockets.

        • Eric, the economy is an over-heated cluster of bubbles inflated by reckless Fed policies to paper over the rot of weak market fundamentals which no longer seem to matter, just like deficits don’t seem to matter to Republicans if it means enriching their donor class. when (not if) the bubbles start popping, Trump is perfectly positioned to be the fall guy.

  4. Eric says:

    So JC – the money in my pocket isn’t real?

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