Thomas Howard: Mississippi can’t afford ‘traditional values’


Mississippi lost another lawsuit last week. This time, the state was found guilty of violating the rights of people with mental illness. Hon. Carlton Reeves, who has spent the last four months hearing arguments from the U.S. Department of Justice and lawyers for the state, announced his ruling Thursday calling for the appointment of a “special master” to oversee changes to Mississippi’s mental health system.

Chronically underfunding social services has been standard operating procedure for the state legislature, as have losing lawsuits because of the underfunding and paying millions in legal fees. In another lawsuit, this one dealing with the state’s utter disregard for properly funding the foster care system, Mississippi Today reported legal fees amounted to about $21 million, only $1 million less than it would’ve cost to fix the foster care system in the first place. And, of course the state still has to pay to fix the problem, so the legislature effectively doubled the cost.

Then there are the anti-abortion bills that keep getting passed, because learning from failure is apparently just a thing we tell children to do. Mississippi has already spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending the blatantly illegal bills and is on track to spend more. Meanwhile, Mississippi was ranked as the worst state to have a baby in 2019 by WalletHub, which looked at over 30 metrics, including access to prenatal care, costs associated with pregnancy and birth and infant mortality rates.

Now, we can disagree about abortion, mental health, mass incarceration or a dozen other social justice issues that make the rounds on a seemly annual basis, but the point is this – the legislature’s modus operandi is exorbitantly expensive, does not solve the problems and is does not benefit the people our elected officials claim to represent.

Behind the guise of staving off the invading Washington liberals, members of the legislature have worked hard to ensure Mississippi stays at the bottom of every list. These policies are fiscal irresponsibility disguised as defending traditional values and do nothing more than if we lit millions of dollars on fire.

I implore you, the voters, to demand more. Demand real solutions, not taxpayer funding political posturing. Demand accountability, transparency and integrity from our political class. Then, in November, go vote and send a message to Jackson that the people of Mississippi will no longer tolerate the waste, corruption and greed that has for so long been packaged, labeled and crammed down our throats as Mississippi’s traditional values.

Thomas is the managing editor of the Newton County Appeal. He can be reached at