POWELL: Schools fail with the basics but legislators say: Add sex

Published on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 20:55
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By CHRIS POWELL

From the legislation they have placed before the General Assembly's Education Committee, you might think that state Reps. Jeffrey A. Currey, D-East Hartford, Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, and Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Seymour, just awoke from long comas.

Their bill would require schools to teach about "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual orientations and gender identities." Currey, Gilchrest, and Klarides-Ditria seem not to have noticed that for many years now most Connecticut high school students never master high school English and math, nor that school attendance in Connecticut has been erratic for 10 months because of the virus epidemic and that tens of thousands of students, especially those from the poorest households, have largely disappeared from school even as they already were years behind when they arrived in kindergarten.

As a practical matter there is little education now and even if the epidemic ended tomorrow schools would need two years to catch up on what students have missed. So do these legislators really need to get their political correctness tickets punched with their posturing obliviousness?

FALSE PROTECTION

In the name of protecting the health of young people, many Democratic state legislators are proposing to outlaw flavored tobacco and flavorings for electronic cigarettes. Meanwhile these legislators also are maneuvering to legalize marijuana and internet gambling, which may mess up not only children but their parents as well.

Of course the difference is that there's little tax revenue to be lost by outlawing flavored tobacco and e-cigarette flavorings and much tax revenue to be gained by legalizing marijuana and internet gambling. So proposing to outlaw flavored tobacco and e-cigarette flavorings is another empty pose.

Advocates of the legislation don't seem to have noticed that alcoholic beverages recently have added flavorings likely to appeal especially to underage drinkers. Connecticut's roadsides are now littered with "nip" bottles of such flavored liquor, thrown out of car windows during joyrides by juveniles who can't bring home regular bottles of the stuff. Alcohol is just as dangerous to juveniles as tobacco and e-cigarettes, more so when juveniles are driving around and drinking, but nobody is proposing to outlaw flavored liquor. Apparently that also would risk too much tax revenue.

The movement to legalize marijuana, now close to irresistible, signifies recognition that contraband laws don't work and that people can protect themselves against victimless crime. Meanwhile tobacco smoking is in a long decline because of the public health publicity campaign against it, and tobacco smokers are using e-cigarettes to kick the more dangerous tobacco habit.

Connecticut already prohibits sale of tobacco and electronic cigarettes to people under 21. Adults are trusted to decide for themselves about those and other risky products. Besides, a legislature that was really concerned about the health of children would be insisting on the resumption of in-person schooling before worrying about tobacco and e-cigarettes. But Connecticut's teacher unions are far more fearsome than its liquor and tobacco merchants.

LIQUOR RACKET PERSISTS

Even so, Connecticut's liquor retailers are fearsome enough, numbering about 1,300 and distributed in every legislator's district. They long have defeated attempts to repeal the state's liquor price-support system, which imposes just about the highest alcoholic beverage prices in the country. Now the liquor stores are mobilizing against legislation to allow Connecticut-made wines to be sold in supermarkets.

There is no good reason to forbid supermarkets from selling wine and liquor along with the beer they already sell. For convenience to shoppers, other states allow supermarkets to sell all three alcoholic products. Liquor stores could be allowed to sell groceries too, and indeed Connecticut lately has let them sell some non-beverage items.

The only restriction needed here is to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors, and supermarkets can do that. They already "card" even the oldest folks buying beer.

The liquor store lobby perceives the request of the wineries as the camel's nose under the tent of the whole corrupt liquor retailing system. People who don't own liquor stores may cheer for the camel.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Column, Editorials on Wednesday, 3 February 2021 20:55. Updated: Wednesday, 3 February 2021 20:58.