Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mommy, Mommy! I hear the ding-alings coming!!

No surprise to most, I'm old enough to remember the joyous days when the sound of the "ding-alings" coming from the street meant the Good Humor Man was approaching, carrying his load of frozen sweet distractions. I had only moments to get some coins and run outside to stop him before he passed me by.

Those simple and innocent pleasures are all but gone. Now-a-days, they've been replaced by a figurative "ding-aling," and it often comes from Seth Berry's Kool-Aid Truck as it treks its way through the media editorial pages, dispensing its load free of charge.

Berry effects the popular "nice young man-organic farming-save the tree" kind of personna that is a slam dunk ballot box winner in Maine, no matter how disingenuous and destructive his pleadings and policies may be. And the closer we get to elections, the more likely he is to be seen ringing his bells to let us know the kool-aid is ready.

Take his recent anti-TABOR II offering in our daily newspaper. Berry asserts that no such measure is necessary, because he and his friends in Augusta are so dedicated to reducing taxes and spending that they intentionally and willingly lowered the current budget compared to the prior budget.

The simple truth is that they did so because they had absolutely no choice, at least none that they could find and put past the public. They have an obligation to "balance" (and I use that word very loosely) the budget, and there simply wasn't enough revenue to spend beyond what they did.

Anyone who believes that if revenues weren't 30% higher that they wouldn't have spent every last penny of it, or who thinks that when "better times return" that they won't increase spending by every dollar that comes their way, or they can otherwise pry loose from taxpayers, probably believes that the word gullible is not in the dictionary.

Berry's homily is the equivalent of me having my car repossessed and then bragging to you how I'm voluntarily reducing my fossil fuel consumption, and expecting you to send me an award for it.

But let's cut to the chase. As I've said before, I strive to make this blog non-partisan and keep the focus away from elective issues.

That said, truth is not a partisan issue, and when lies are rampant in our midst, they need to be called out, and I will do so whoever is spewing them.

The campaign against TABOR II is following the "fudd" formula that gave them a win last time. "Fear, uncertainty, doubt, and deception" that is. You know...the "dead bodies will be found in the street approach" to campaigning. (By the way, have you noticed any such bodies since Berry and friends savagely brutalized the state budget earlier this year? I haven't, but maybe I don't drive down the right streets.)

Well, every now and then, to borrow a phrase, these tactics make me "mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore."

Let me give you a specific example. In Berry's column, he says "If Question 4 passes and further cuts are required, funding in these areas will go from bad to worse."

And another one. I love our Public Safety folks; we underpay them for what they do for us, especially when compared to others on the public payroll. But lying to the public is no way to improve your lot. There's an anti-Question 4 radio ad running where a police officer says "budgets will be frozen."

Well pardon my english, but both Berry's and the LEO's claims are crap. You got that - crap, plain and simple. Or for those of you with a military background, Bravo Sierra. And the claims are made intentionally to mislead you.

Why are these claims crap? Because nothing, I repeat NOTHING, in the TABOR II language calls for any cutting or freezing. And anyone who cares about what they are voting on knows or should know this.

The measure talks to how spending and tax INCREASES are enacted, and it allows them to grow as high as the governing body and the voters decide they should. It simply establishes guidelines, beyond which specific votes of approval by the governing body, and when necessary, the voters themselves are required.

Oh the horror! Imagine that! Our benevolent "public servants" would have to ask for our approval before increasing spending or taxes by more than nominal amounts!

(Funny....this sounds a lot like the heralded LD 1 enacted by our Governor and the legislature a few years back. When it was their idea, it was "bold leadership;" when it's our idea, it's a "ham-handed, one size fits all" monstrosity.)

Let me repeat again; nothing in TABOR II requires any cutting or freezing, and the opponents know it. But they haven't let that stop them from scaring you by saying it does. Instead, they pass out the Kool-Aid to a thirsty public, and Berry flavor is very popular.

As a candidate for Governor has said,
Voting "yes" on Question 4 does not cut spending, but it might limit future spending increases, depending on what the voters choose. There is absolutely no reason not to vote "yes."

Given the unadulterated deceptions being served to us, some questions arise.

1) What are Berry and his fellow "public servants" so afraid of?

2) Do they really think the public is so dumb that they can't be trusted to weigh in on such matters?

3) Do they worry that the little people and the great unwashed won't reliably say "yessir, yessir, three bags full?"

4) Do they truly believe that they're that much smarter than you and I?

5) What do they find so compelling about the status quo that it must be protected at all costs? Is it the fact that as a state, we have the highest percentage of our population on Medicaid? Or that we have virtually the highest health insurance rates in the nation and the highest percentage of uninsured? (Gee, do those two dots connect?) Are they that enamored of our depressing economic climate, extremely low income levels, and our demographics? You know, we're the oldest state in the nation, and our youth, as few as we spawn, are fleeing for other pastures. How about the second highest percentage of residents on food stamps and welfare? Gee...that's something to be proud of! And you can top off this collapsed souffle with our nearly worst in the nation business friendliness ranking.

Boy...they've really got a lot to be proud of, don't they??? I can see why they don't want anybody getting in the way of more of the same.

I'll close by asking the "interested students" among the vast throngs who follow Other Side to do a little homework. Here in Maine, we've had nearly exclusive one party rule for more than 30 years. I'd like you to name three things that have gotten better in this state during that period, and let me warn you that any answer that cites increased dependence on government will be thrown where it belongs.

Good luck, and if you need more paper and pencils, let me know. I'll run right over with some.

As soon as I get my car back, that is.

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