Friday, June 26, 2009

Rooks "reflections" relegate reality rearward

Douglas Rooks is one of the Times Record's "featured columnists," along with Kurt Wise of the nanny-state non-profit Maine Center for Economic Policy. This means they get a featured spot on the op-ed page every two weeks, and who knows; they may even get paid for their analysis.

Rooks (rhymes with kooks) had a column in the Thursday, June 25 edition titled "Post-session reflections." In it, he talks about activities in the Maine legislature over the past several months, in keeping with the title, and then demonstrates that he knows more about the paving business than does a member of the Transportation Committee, Doug Thomas, whom he skewers at some length.

Opportunistic Republican basher that he is, Rooks manages to segue from this story line to the shame of Gov. Mark Sanford in South Carolina. Sanford will get no defense from me; I am an equal opportunity, non-partisan critic of anyone who behaves as Sanford has. I simply find it telling that Rooks decided to include him in this topic.

Rooks goes even a step further, trying for a three-fer. He makes this statement at the end of the column:

"Is it the job of government to pave roads and employ teachers, or can we really afford to do without them? We’ve been on the smaller government bandwagon for 30 years now, and will soon have to decide whether we want to get off."

I don't know what planet Rooks inhabits, but if he believes that last statement, he is clearly spending his time on the j-axis instead of the real axis.

Recent state budget enactment aside, which stems entirely from the fact that we, the Maine taxpayers, simply aren't doing what is expected of us, anyone who thinks that government has been getting smaller for the last 30 years is unfit to discuss such matters.

And don't throw head count reduction in Maine state government around; the dollars spent have been increasing almost without exception pretty much forever. And the expansion in Maine State shadow government is readily apparent to anyone who drives around with his eyes open. Non-profit social service agencies and the like are all ipso facto wholly owned and operated elements of our benevolent government.

Federal Government? The recent increases in the size and scope of this behemoth cannot be challenged, and Rooks' adored purveyor of "change and hope" has far more in store for us. I could look up the numbers, but my guess is the growth in Federal Government over the last 30 years would leave you gasping for breath if it was revealed.

As to Brunswick's local governance, I have records dating back to FY 87-88. Since that year, school spending has increased from $11.5 million to $33.5 million. Municipal expenses have grown from $6.5 million to $19.3 million over the same period. Hell; our cost per student has increased by 40% over the last 4 years.

You'd think the Times Record would hold their "featured columnists" more accountable to protect their readers; that they would vet such patently unrealistic assertions before allowing them to appear in print. You'd think so, but it looks like you'd be wrong.

It's not that the Times Record doesn't have standards, it's just that they apply them selectively. As someone observed in my former world of complex digital systems, standards are great, until such time as they constrain you from doing what you want to do.

On occasion, the Times Record has turned a submission of mine inside out, scrubbed it down with a wire brush, demanded detailed substantiation, and otherwise exercised editorial skepticism at a very high level. Or claimed that their showcase full of awards somehow immunizes them from public scrutiny. Perish the thought that such rigor could in any way result from the fact that my writing is almost always directly at odds with the clear ideological tilt of the editors. While Douglas Rooks' might best be described as an echo of their ideological tilt, or vice versa; take your pick.

There may be a bandwagon involved here as Rooks claims, but it sure as hell isn't going in the direction he claims it is. And there are fewer and fewer around to propel the "bandwagon," while the band keeps getting bigger and bigger.

So, as Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets, I say to Rooks: "go sell crazy somewhere else; we're all stocked up around here." Or if you prefer something less glitzy, poppycock, Rooks.

And Dougie, if you have hopes of moving up to the New York Times before it disappears, you might want to clean up your act a bit; even they have some standards when it comes to the truth, although they manage to disguise them most of the time.

gleefully posted,

pc poppycock

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