Thursday, February 08, 2018

Malloy’s last Chapter

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning” -- Winston Churchill

Governor Dannel Malloy’s last “State of the State” address might well serve as the last chapter of his forthcoming autobiography, to be titled "He Meant Well," assuming there is to be an autobiography.

Wisely, Malloy avoided mentioning the budget, growing like a tumor on the side of Connecticut’s face. Budgets, getting and spending plans two years out, map the destiny of the state. In place of destiny, Malloy’s address was brimming with utopian froth.

 "It's the kind of speech,” President Pro Tem of the state Senate Martin Looney enthused, “that helped him get elected in the first place back in 2010 and reminds us of the true values on which he first ran. I think many of those issues have been obscured by the budget crises we've had over the years."

Value governors produce value speeches. But it was the policy prescriptions Malloy embraced as a two term governor -- high and frequent increases in taxes, inattention to budget creep, a reluctance to rein in extravagant union demands, insufficient long term, permanent cuts in spending, a reluctance to include Republicans in budget decisions – that contributed to the state’s flight from reality and its many budget crises.

With apologies to Churchill, this was not a speech that announced the end of the beginning of a progressive political struggle in Connecticut. It was a speech, full of hopes and airy dreams, that should signal the end of a progressive nightmare in Connecticut. In his last State of the State address, Malloy had his mind set on fairness: “This common thread of fairness has woven its way through Connecticut’s history, all the way to present times. In recent years, we have worked hard to ensure that when it comes to equity, justice and basic compassion for one another our actions have lived up to our rhetoric …. We’ve been driven by Connecticut fairness.’’

Health care, Malloy said, is a fundamental right. Well, a fundamental right is one extended equitably to all. The hidden stinger under the “right” to Obamacare is a universal health care system run by the same folk who brought us Obamacare, a wreck from within from its inception.

Malloy said the minimum wage must be raised. Some companies whose profit lines have been improved under President Donald Trump’s tax and regulatory reforms already have boosted their minimum wage. Profits increased by reduced taxation and diminishing regulations are trickling down to employees. A state or federal government ordered hike in the minimum wage, when the state or nation is suffering anemic job growth, simply raises the cost of products and services.

Malloy said young offenders deserve a “second chance.” Journal Inquirer columnist Chris Powell has pointed out that many young criminals, no less lethal than old criminals, are given many more chances than two at the bar of justice.  Justice does not require indifference to criminality; it requires fitting punishments for crimes – what used to be called “fairness” in the judicial community. In what sense is crime forgiveness fair to the victims of crime?  

Malloy’s Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Mike Lawlor, just gave get-out-of jail-early credits to a relatively young criminal who procured a gun while on parole and shot at a police officer. Had the convicted criminal killed the officer, his widow and fatherless children would not have considered the arrangement fair or equitable.

The bump stocks that “allowed the Las Vegas shooter to fire at speeds similar to a machine gun” were, Malloy said, “completely and utterly unnecessary in our society today.’’ Malloy did not disclose to his audience that the National Rifle Association (NRA) he and other Democrat politicians have been demonizing supports such a measure.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Malloy’s was a speech that looked to the far rather than the near future, which does not bear close examination. Connecticut near future is full of nettles and thorns, but the distant, fair, far future is rosy with dreams and pleasant fantasies – progressive fantasies.

State Senator Michael McLachlan pierced the fantasy. “The building is burning down, down,” he remarked, “and we don’t have any money. Why are you even saying things that you can’t possibly do? He just wasted everybody’s time. He got people excited about ideas that we don’t have a prayer of doing because there’s no money. It’s very sad. We’ve got to focus on red ink. It’s $250 million now [in the current fiscal year], and it’s going to be half a billion before you blink.’’

The solution to all the real and worsening problems mentioned by McLachlan is obvious – don’t blink; just keep your wide and hopeful eyes fastened on the glittering rhetoric, and forget the state of the state. The politics of virtuous intentions is the progressive solution to all problems caused by progressives.

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