Saturday, February 19, 2011

From Wisconsin to the House, looking for the common good one public servant at a time

The U.S. House of Representatives, under the direction of Speaker Boehner, is looking to slash the deficit one amendment at a time.  Nothing appears to be sacred.  Unless it is.  The usual Repblican fabs are there, from NPR to PBS and Planned Parenthood.  There are also new targets, such as a park in Nancy Pelosi's district.  

Far more interesting is what's not in there.  One of the most curious, and the topic of Gail Collins' column this morning, is the Army's sponsorship of a NASCAR racing team.  In tough economic times, it is a fair question to ask why the Army should be funding a NASCAR team.  Here's the answer, from driver Ryan Newman: "In a 2009 study among fans nationwide, 37% feel more positive about the Army due to its involvement in motorsports."

Make what you want of the sponsorship, the better point lies elsewhere.  When a Democratic representative sought to eliminate the sponsorship, her amendment was defeated soundly, and led a Republican representative to opine, “[t]his amendment is about politics in certain districts for certain groups of people.” 

This is what good, austere government looks like?

But that alone is not what caught my attention this morning.  Hypocrisy lies everywhere and is hardly news anymore.  Within minutes, and in reference to the Wisconsin debate over its budget, here's the lessons of that debate, from James Sherk, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation: "As a result [of the growth of collective bargaining in government] unions can now insist on laws that serve their interests – at the expense of the common good."

This is a remarkable assertion.  Pushed to its logical extreme, it may be said that collective bargaining  is what got us into the economic mess we find ourselves today.  Not bankers, or Wall Street risk-taking, or just plain greed. Unions.  And what will get us out of this recession?  The answer is obvious.  Busting the unions.  

The remarkable thing is not that conservatives say the things they say.  I get that.  The far more remarkable point is that there is somebody at the other end listening and nodding in agreement.  

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