Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Party Of “Yes” Can’t Say “No”

The Waterbury Republican American asks who, among the candidates for governor this year, will have the courage to just say “No” to the spending frenzy that has gripped the state ever since ex-Governor and Senator Lowell Weicker – Is he gone yet? Is it safe to come out? – saddled state tax suppliers with an income tax and thereby a) saved a spend-thrift state government from the necessity of making real, permanent cuts in the budget and b) produced quickly spent multi million surpluses every budgetary cycle that increased an ungovernable appetite for spending, which has now produced a budget deficit that even Weicker deplores. Weicker deplored the deficit most recently on Colin McEnroe’s talk show, Dennis House’s show and other venues.

His concern was touching, in a touchy feely kind of way.

This year, Weicker is supporting Ned Lamont for governor. No surprise there; Weicker and his former chief aide Tom D’Amore supported Lamont – who, in his own campaign, now has hoisted Weicker’s tattered “No Man But Yours” Jolly Rodger – when Lamont, at the urging of Weicker and D’Amore, challenged present Senator Joe Lieberman in a primary. Lieberman is to Weicker what holy water is to the devil’s tail; the slightest drop causes clouds of smoke to spume, emitting enough noxious vapors to stun an elephant.

Is there, the WRA asks, a dime’s worth of difference this year between Republican and Democratic promises? The paper is quick to remind us that most political campaign promises are worth no more than a dime a dozen. In his presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama promised us he would close GITMO within months of his swearing in as president. He hasn’t done it. Military tribunals would be out. Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, a Sudanese detainee held at Guantanamo Bay and Osama bin Ladin’s former driver, just pled guilty on July 7 to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission. Troops in Iraq were to be withdrawn within months of his attaining office. They weren’t. He would create millions of new jobs. He hasn’t. The president has managed to create some jobs, a good many of them temporary, in the public sphere. He would scour the federal budget “line by line, “eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less."

The WRA’s response?

“Ha!”

Closer to home:

“Connecticut is about to elect a new governor, and it's deja vu. Five candidates — Democrats Dan Malloy and Red Ned Lamont, and Republicans Tom Foley, Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel — are promising to revitalize the economy, create jobs, reduce government borrowing and spending, root out waste and fraud, improve accountability, ‘invest’ in education, public safety and transportation, restore fiscal responsibility (as if it ever existed), and — our favorite — ‘think outside the box.’

“If it sounds familiar, it should.

“With minor variations and adjustments for the prevailing circumstances, it's what gubernatorial candidates promise every four years. This year's crop has repackaged these promises and is peddling them as new solutions, new approaches, new direction and new leadership. It's the same old wine, long ago gone rancid, in a brand new bottle.”

10 comments:

commoncents said...

INTERESTING...
Just want to say I really like your blog!

Steve
Common Cents
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Don Pesci said...

Thanks.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Economically, we are in a pickle. You are right that state government grew too big, too fast. But it will be painful to trim the fat.

Laying off state employees will hardly do... there are no private sector jobs to absorb them. But models for our small economy also anticipate a certain level of government hiring, which is no longer present because of hiring freezes.

Thus we are in a catch-22... reducing state employment roles improves state government's financial health, but has a detrimental impact on overall economic activity.

A bigger problem than the number of employees, though, is perhaps the benefits and salaries they receive. An assistant attorney general can now expect to make ten to twenty thousand dollars more than a new attorney practicing with a mid sized firm. Likewise, entry level employees in the executive, legislative and judicial branches can now expect to make more than they would if they entered the private workplace.

Where entry level salaries for government work outpace those for private sector work, it's time to reevaluate things. At a minimum, we out no longer call it public "service."

Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

Most people who don’t want to lay off state workers for the reasons you mention turn to attrition as a less painful solution. There are no painless solutions. The only question up for grabs is “Who will suffer the pain?” – which is another way of saying “Who can best afford the suffering?”

As I’m sure you know, our blighted economic future is much worse than a pickle. If we could translate pending economic problem into ecological terms, we are facing something very much like a poisoned water supply, and the solution, or a partial solution, is to stop dumping waste into the water. I’m afraid – no hyperbole here – that the antique economic solutions adopted by the Obama administration, possibly for political demagogic purposes, will only worsen things. You don’t solve a reprise of FDR’s depression by turning the clock back to FDR. We know what caused the depression, and we know what eased it and what exacerbated it.

That said, I agree with you about benefits. They nibble away, like little mice, at solvency – which is the REAL problem. Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the heirs and assigns of the programs adopted during the great national convalescence of the FDR period, are all insolvent. They are insolvent because the people taking benefits from these baskets outnumber the people putting benefits into the baskets. Politicians loath to charge the costs of the benefits to those consuming them – which, alone, will redress the imbalance. In government programs, there are no effective sanctions that punish people for taking too much from the baskets. A regulatory system of that kind is part of the hard drive of a genuine uncompromised free market system. Doesn’t exist in the public arena, where debts are discharged through progressive taxation, borrowing from suckers, and printing up debased money (poisoning the water supply.) Hard to keep up with reckless spendthrifts.

But we knew this would happen, didn’t we?

Solve that and you have solved the problem. Most of the real solutions – take less from the baskets, put more in – have been so demagogued by the salvationists, noxious little political satans, that I despair of any effective solution to the problems. One would hardly guess from the Democrat’s new programs that the old programs are kaput and, unless made solvent, bound to pull any new programs down to the nether regions of Hell.

Now, when people use these extravagant metaphors to present the problem, they are usually waved off, most especially by liberal commentators in Connecticut’s blind as a bat media, as – extravagant, Peter shouting
Wolf!” too often. But those who blithely wave away the prospect of the wolf at the door forget the end to the Peter fable. The wolf showed up at last.

The heavy breathing that those of us with ears to hear sense just behind the door is the wolf – Mr. Smoothy assuring us that if just spend a little more... take a little more from Peter to pay Paul... have the Chinese pick up the bill… pass the charges along to our yet as unborn grandchildren…

How do you know, the philosopher asks, when you are entering a new dark age?

There are signs.

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