Is Cutting Funding to Legal Aid Organizations Wise? You Decide.

An old saying advises us that "one can be penny wise but pound foolish." In the tough economic environment today, hardly anyone questions the need to save money. We save our own money, and we expect governments to do the same. But when the government tries to save money, a balance has to be struck between the value of reducing its debt and the hardship it can inflict on its people.

A case in point is the work done by the Legal Services Corporation that has legal aid clinics for indigent people in the various states. Indigents are people who need legal services but don't have the money to pay for them. Many of us practicing law give countless hours at no charge every year to people who need help, but we can't do everything. That's where the Legal Aid Corporation comes in to provide care to many others who need it. It gets funding from state bar associations and from the federal and state governments.

Congress is now considering a proposal to strip seventy million dollars from Legal Services. The Wisconsin governor who just pushed through the law eliminating collective bargaining for public employees has proposed a serious reduction in Wisconsin's funding for legal services. Texas' current plan is to cut twenty three million dollars from legal aid funding.

What will be the effect of cuts like these that most states, including Florida, are considering? Hardship, and maybe violence. If people don't have access to the courts, there's only one way left for them to settle disputes, the way it was done in the old days by fists, knives, or long, long ago, by swords. That would have its own costs measured in medical bills, criminal prosecutions, and housing the guilty in prisons.

So one has to ask, how wise is it to cut legal aid funding and to inflict hardship on the backs of those who need but can't afford legal help like an abused wife, a legal immigrant just getting a start, or a bedridden cancer victim whose home is being foreclosed? Now, the issue is before you to consider. You decide.

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