Friday, October 9, 2009

Double Standards: Favoring the Politically Annointed

It occurred to me that the rules and procedures surrounding the spending of our own personal resources are at once duplicitous and arranged to favor our so-called "public servants."

Just a few days ago, I posted on the subject of OPM, or "other peoples' money."

If you say "O-P-M" with just the right touch and accent, it sounds very much like "opium," an addictive substance of the highest order. And so other peoples' money is in the hands of our benefactors, elected or appointed.

Said officials are always looking out for our best interests. Especially when it comes to us choosing what to do with our personal resources. Want to buy a house or take out a mortgage? Get ready to read and sign stacks of disclosures, disclaimers, and other mind-numbing legal sized pages of fine print mumbo-jumbo, most inspired or required by our benefactors as they attempt to protect us.

Want to take a brand-name prescription medication? Perhaps you saw an ad for it in Parade Magazine on know, two happy people running on the beach with their dog, with a caption that says "Ask your doctor if Goozornium might be right for you." The ad is typically followed by 3 or 4 pages of fine print cautions, warnings, and side-effects that should cure whatever malady you have just in the reading. Who'd want to take a pill that could cause 20 problems worse than what it's supposed to treat?

Get cable TV? How often do you get 8-10 pages of fine print "information" in your monthly statement, most of it no doubt stimulated by concerned regulators and benefactors in our government?

Bought a new egg cooker? Get ready for a 12 page instruction book, 11 and a half pages of which fire hoses you with various safety warnings, disclaimers, and other completely non-sensical and useless information clearly resulting from government meddling and ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers.

Do you have auto or homeowner's insurance? How about those policies you get in the mail, complete with "endorsements," to make sure you have all the details on what you are buying, even if you need a friendly lawyer to help you understand them.

How about those credit card offers you get in the mail? Is there one among you who would actually read all the fine print in the multiple paged offer documents? How about an "important news" mailing for a credit card account you already have? Talk about being overwhelmed by excruciating detail written by fine print specialists.

Wanna buy a mutual fund? Well, no offer to sell such a fund can be made other than by a detailed Prospectus. I've seen more such documents than I can count. They're nice and informative, to a fault. No doubt because those in higher places want to make sure that under no circumstances do we take undue risks or make serious mistakes when investing our own money.

You can probably cite many more examples of the same overbearing government demands for full disclosure and disclaimers and warnings before we can take decisive action to spend our own money on something important.

Isn't it 'curious,' then, how those same benevolent public servants escape the same requirements for rigor, disclosure, and cautionary warnings when they want to spend OUR money on something whether we want them to do it or not. To them, dealing in O-P-M (go ahead, pronounce it 'o-pi-um') needs to take place in the shadows where no one can see what's going on.

When these folks want to spend a Trillion dollars or so on "health care reform," or more than $3,000 for every person in this country, hell, they're not going to put the legislation on the web for anyone to read, or even read it themselves. And they're sure as hell not going to send you a copy of the "insurance policy" they're gonna force you to buy before you know what it covers and what it doesn't.

Similarly, when they increase the federal deficit by Nine Trillion Dollars over the next ten years, or about $30,000 per person, shame on us for wanting to have full disclosure before they do so.

Now to the local scene. Base redevelopment. MRRA, consisting of Baldacci appointees, and Commissioner Richardson, another Baldacci appointment, are resolute in declaring that the spending of OUR resources in such matters demands confidentiality, privacy, and complete lack of public disclosure. No multi-page documents describing and disclosing the MOU or Lease Contract with Oxford Aviation; why the vary thought, in their minds, would put the negotiations at risk.

No details on how much of OUR resources will be committed, or why, or giving us the right to sign off on the deal. Whilst the general view is that citizens need to be protected by full and complete disclosure of all contracts and free exchanges, the rules suddenly change when our politicians are doing the deal.

I don't know why I'm being so persnickety about such irrelevancies. It must be a penalty of my upbringing.

That said, is it too much to ask our long-suffering and overburdened public servants to provide the same transparency and clarity in committing OUR resources as they demand from others when we wish to do so on our own?

You should trust me on this, because I'm not like all the others.

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