Thursday, September 3, 2009

Berry Flavored Kool-Aid: Do-Over Laws

In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: "Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
-Queen Gertrude, Hamlet Act 3, Shakespeare

Jeez, we live in a target rich political environment! Make yourself a promise right now that you’ll never say “Now I’ve seen it all!” when it comes to politics, because Side is here to tell you that you haven’t, and you never will.

We have tax evaders at the highest level of our federal government strutting in front of cameras as though the worst they’ve ever done is leave the Congressional Dining Room with a bit of tar-tar sauce on their chin, or in extreme cases, explaining that the dog ate their tax records.

I’m sure I haven’t seen it all, but Side may have seen more than most, having spent a career working with our federal government. Closer to home, I’ve had occasion to research various elements of Maine State Law (Statutes) using legal reference books that provide details on the repeal, addition, or amendment of laws over the years, and this gives you a really clear view of who has been meddling in the fine print area and how. It doesn’t do much to make you feel better about things, I’d like to add.

In particular, looking into election law, specifically as it regards registration and voting procedures, will dumbfound you. Rational requirements have been undermined or removed outright to the point where if Edgar Bergen showed up with Charlie McCarthy at a poll and could make him fog a mirror, he’d probably be allowed to register on the spot and vote.

The depth to which our servants will flaunt their chutzpah is essentially unlimited. But this shouldn’t surprise us. They’re either lawyers themselves, or have so many lawyers in their midst that tip-toeing through the legal tulips is almost sport for them, with high fives generously exchanged when the “game plan” results in victory.

As case in point I give you the previously discussed Seth Berry here in Maine. And of course you’ll remember Side’s Consultant Captain O’Seau ObVeeous who enlightened us on Berry’s beloved free Kool-Aid for all bill.

Did you see yesterday’s paper? Just to make sure we haven’t “seen it all,” Berry is proposing legislation that would meddle with the citizen’s initiative process to provide a “do-over” option for repentant petition signers. Berry has filed a bill he “hopes will strengthen ballot integrity in the state by allowing voters to retract their signatures from petitions when they feel they have been misled about a referendum or initiative.”

Berry was inspired to do so by his disgust over the citizens veto effort being pursued to overturn the new tax reform law. He does understand that signing a petition does not consist of voting to support a proposal, but only to put it before the public for a vote, doesn't he?

Inquiring minds should ask why on earth Berry is going to such lengths, and is so incensed about the effort to repeal the law which he glibly tells us will put money back in the pockets of Maine taxpayers, and therefore, reduce the revenue available to his beloved benefactory in Augusta. Or won’t it, Rep. Berry?

Berry trying to outmaneuver the public to force “tax reform” upon them is on its face suspicious, leading Side to dramatically intone “Berry doth protest too much, methinks.” One finds it easy to suspect that Berry knows more about the realities of the proposed “tax reform” than he is letting on, eh Brute?

When’s the last time you saw a politician bend over backwards and say “pretty please with sugar on it” to get us to take our money back from government? Why isn’t Berry just saying “fine….if you want the state to keep more of your money, that’s your choice, and it’s fine with me!” He’s of the political persuasion whose glee is proportional to the amount available to spend, so what’s the problem?

On the other hand, there is a certain appeal to Berry’s proposal that registered voters should have do-over or withdrawal privileges. Given that many of our officials think it’s no big deal to disregard their oaths of office, it’s understandable they would think this way. So here are some suggestions on how to take Berry’s good idea and make it better:

- Allow voters to annul or reverse their vote for up to two years after any election if they sign an affidavit saying they were misled or overly-schmoozed by a candidate or their advocates.

- Allow voters to adhere to the promises that were made by politicians who are elected, but whose promises evaporate. Remember Issue 1A some years back that would “lower property taxes statewide by 15%?” I do, and I haven’t seen a nickel of the 15%. Wouldn’t it be fun to short the town by 15% the next time your property tax bill comes, and tell them you are invoking Berry’s Law of Do-over?

- Allow individuals to renege sales and mortgage contracts, credit card agreements, and anything else that turns out to be bothersome or otherwise inconvenient after it was entered into.

Side is sure that if you asked Representative Berry, he’d tell you that he is a well-intentioned, compassionate, and caring public servant always looking out for the public interest. Which seems like reason enough to expand his caring and compassion to those situations suggested above.

And if the citizen’s veto succeeds, Berry always has the option of proposing a law that will issue rebate checks to Maine taxpayers in an amount equal to the savings they would have realized under his favored “tax reform.” One way or another, he has it within his grasp to see that we get those benefits he promised.

So if Berry is a man of principle, we can’t lose. In a related story, reports are that he will use Kool-Aid envelopes personalized with his photo as a promotional item the next time he runs. Oh the wonder of it all.

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