Saturday, May 16, 2015

Defending The Indefensible

The scramble for victim’s status has begun. Criminals, it turns out, also may be the victims of their own crimes, and provocateurs may be the victims of their own provocations.

Shortly after Governor Dannel Malloy announced to reporters that Republican Party opposition to his “Second Chance Society” program was inherently racist – not in intent but in outcome -- the Republican leadership in the General Assembly bit back.

Mr.  Malloy’s formulation allows the accuser to sidestep the imputation that he is a liar, or worse: We all know you are not a racist. Your intentions are good, even praiseworthy – but the outcome of your intentions is racist. By this means, one may forgive the Devil himself.

Republican leader in the General Assembly Themis Klarides spoke for many in her party when she objected to Mr. Malloy’s bullying tactics, and the Governor’s  pot-boiler rhetoric was gently reproved by Democratic  Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, who noted, “This is a difficult policy issue, where there can be legitimate disagreement, but ascribing motives to people on opposite sides of the issue is not productive or helpful toward the ultimate goal of passing legislation that is important to hard working families.” Majority leader Joe Aresimowicz also was critical of the Governor’s remarks: "We cannot condone injecting racism into the debate over challenging legislation. Questioning the intentions of those with differing opinions is counterproductive to the work that needs to be done in the Legislature."

So far, Mr. Malloy has offered no apology for imputing racism to those who had the temerity to disagree with him on a matter of policy. Surely Republicans may overlook the lack of remorse on his part since – his intention was good, though its outcome was not praiseworthy. Mr. Malloy’s economic fixes – the fixes that have not fixed – fall into the same pattern: The Governor’s intentions no doubt are praiseworthy, but the outcome of his tax and spend policies has caused a prolongation of the recession, business flight and a persistent, long term erosion of state revenue, occasioning more taxes, which spur more spending. The road to penury is indeed paved with good intentions, but the outcomes are rather unfortunate. Ah, but perhaps Mr. Malloy may not have intended these adverse consequences when he adopted policies that have produced these exact outcomes. Can we not overlook the outcomes and fasten our moral attention rather on Mr. Malloy’s noble intentions?

It would appear that there is a causative space between intention and outcome that is a veritable Devil’s playground. And this economic and moral breathing space permits economic and moral actors to claim innocence even when they are intimately involved in actions that give way to predictable consequences.

Following his first four years as Governor, Mr. Malloy -- having imposed on his state the largest tax increase in its history, which followed by a decade Governor Lowell Weicker’s imposition of an income tax, the second largest tax increase in Connecticut history – pledged numerous times during his second run for office that he would not propose new taxes. And he kept his word: The out of balance budget Mr. Malloy presented to Connecticut’s Democratic dominated General Assembly was light on taxes and heavy on spending cuts – precisely the kinds of cuts that he knew could not be accepted by a progressive legislature intent on defending the interests of the poor and downtrodden. The progressive Democratic dominated General Assembly, as represented by the Assembly’s budget writing committee, quite predictably rejected the draconian cuts and proceeded to progressivize the budget by adding a slew of new taxes that are, most writers in Connecticut’s liberal top-heavy media tend to agree, well intentioned – outcomes be’damned.

Now, everyone in Connecticut knows that the outcome of adding the final straw to the camel’s back is – a camel’s broken back. Everyone knows that excessive spending produces excessive taxation, which moves money and productivity from the middle class to government coffers. Everyone knows that the bulk of such funds are added to support a metastasizing administrative state. Everyone knows that such states are hostile to business activity -- and ultimately to the poor -- for this reason: The camel cannot be expected to abide the placement on its back of the final straw that will break it. And so the camel that carries the Connecticut economy will resist its burden by moving to states the policies of which produce more favorable outcomes.

Mr. Malloy knows all this. He knows it. That is why he pledged during his last campaign to hold the line on taxes. And that is why he should veto the ruinous budget proposal disgorged by the progressive Democratic dominated General Assembly.

For the sake of legislative comity, everyone can agree that the intentions of those who have constructed the road that would lead Connecticut to the gates of Hell are honorable. But the predictable outcome of the budget produced by progressives in Connecticut’s General Assembly must be vetoed by Mr. Malloy, if he is to retain a shred of plausibility. The victims of the present Finance Committee budget will be… all of us awaiting the predictable final straw that will break Connecticut’s back.
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