Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

All budgets are plans for the future. The budget worked out between Gov. Jodi Rell and the leaders of the dominant Democratic Party in Connecticut’s state legislature, principally Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and President Pro Tem of the Senate Don Williams, will go to press a little more than two weeks before the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions to be held in Hartford on May 21-22.

There are no surprises in the budget, which patterns, with almost ridged precision, the template of past budgets in which gapping holes were filled with chewing gum and hopeful views of the future.

Democrats, heedless of the warning signs everywhere apparent, are convinced that a rising tide will in the near future lift all the boats, Connecticut’s little bark among them. Collectively, the Democratic legislative caucus is Pangloss, drawing hope from the future rather than the past.

Pangloss was a character developed by Voltaire in Candide who, despite the horrors inflicted upon him by cruel fate, continued to believe that the world in which he lived was “the best of all possible worlds.” Earthquakes, revolutions, mass executions were unable to detach Pangloss, Candide’s philosophical tutor, from his inviolable optimism. The loss of his beloved to bandits who raped and mutilated her finally convinced a weary Candide that his philosophical tutor was a bit too optimistic for Candide’s own good.

Operating on the Panglossian notion that tomorrow will be the best of all possible worlds, state Democrats and Rell have now put forth a budget that optimistically looks past what some more worldly Republicans and a handful on unblinkered Democratic legislators regard as the coming train wreck.

Almost half of Connecticut’s budget crater is to be filled by contributions from an administration in Washington that has, in the two years it has been in office, tripled the national debt. The real cost of the new programs initiated by the president and the dominant Democratic congress have not yet registered on the national economic seismograph. Public debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product has increased fourfold during the current administration.

Tin cup in hand, Connecticut has now become a beggar state. It is not alone.

And it is only a matter of time before cash poor Washington begins to treat beggar states in the same way large beggar corporations have been treated., Uncle Sam, himself indebted to foreign states from which he is borrowing heavily to meet his own obligations, surely would not be willing to give alms to wealthy states like Connecticut in the absence of budgetary proof that the state has instituted cost saving measures. New Jersey’s legislature, prodded by a cost conscious governor, has offered some proof that it is serious about controlling future spending.

Connecticut has not

There are no serious costs saving measures in Connecticut’s new budget. It is a budget that will satisfy pressure groups that control powerful legislative leaders in the House and Senate. It is a budget that answers the unstated question roiling in the minds of wealth producing entrepreneurs who, following others gone before them, will vote with their feet by either leaving the state or refusing to come here.

In addition to providing a view to the future, Connecticut’s most recent budget is a reliable measure of the cowardice of politicians. Even New Jersey will offer greener pastures to wealth generators than Connecticut. The sign Dante pasted over his gates to Hell in the Divine Comedy read, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” a suitable greeting for those who will now avoid the state on their way to a Heaven elsewhere.

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