Disrespect not nearly strong enough

Published 12:00 pm Friday, August 26, 2016

As a linguist, I’m attentive to new words in our lexicon. The latest addition to my vocabulary is “disrespect.” Of late the word has come up in several public debates about individuals upset after someone disrespected them.

In order to fully assimilate the word, I started wondering if there is anyone that I disrespect. The search for a target ended with the governor’s announcement last month of a special session of the legislature. Having given so much tax relief to corporations, the majority party found itself without sufficient funds to maintain the basic functions of state government.

Statewide towns and counties are scrambling to maintain services left high and dry by having much of the fiscal rug jerked out from under them. Schools, hospitals, and public roads need dollars. The remedy? Higher local taxes. Thus citizens will pay twice for those projects — first when they paid the taxes subsequently given to special interest groups, and again to make up the deficit from the legislative sellout.

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Thanks to a more prudent legislature years ago, the State maintains a rainy day fund, revenue set aside for emergencies and unexpected contingencies. Well, these Republicans created their own unexpected contingency with their largess to their pals.

Consider that for the month of June in the previous two years the state had good income, $53.4 million last year and $65.6 million the year before. This year the not unexpected — but wholly unnecessary but for their bungling — need to erase the shortfall in the final three days of the session was $63.1 million. Mississippi’s tax revenues can vary widely by month. In 2015, there were only three months where revenues were short of the pre-fiscal year estimate. This year, six months have come in below projections. Shows what a political party can accomplish in one short year.

Thus, the governor’s office sentword on the last day of the session that a special session would be convened the next day. The purpose was to dip into the reserve funds for perhaps $75 million to cover the shortfall in the budget. And so it came to pass: An Act To Amend Section 27-103-203, Mississippi Code Of 1972, To Authorize The Executive Director Of The Department Of Finance And Administration To Transfer Working Cash-stabilization Reserve Funds To The General Fund In An Amount Determined By The Governor To Alleviate The Deficit For Fiscal Year 2016.

Disrespect? I find the word interesting but not nearly strong enough to express my personal anger at these elected buffoons. I wonder if “disrespect” is stronger than “contempt”?

TJ Ray, a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.