Your Government at Work




I woke up this morning and the newspaper was still filled with the same old stuff. Iraq was in turmoil, New Orleans was a pile of rubble and the levee around the Federal Treasury had been breached from so many directions that it will probably still be flooded with red ink even after they get my next tax payment. It seems like the only place in the world not getting federal money is New Hampshire. Our Congressional representatives have clearly demonstrated that they are much too principled to try to divert precious national assets from projects like the Big Dig, Alaska’s bridge to nowhere and the renovating of Saddam Hussein’s homeland, to unnecessary stuff like unfunded federal mandates in our schools and state disaster preparation. This is probably for the best, however, because our state representatives have been much too busy lately to take on the added responsibility of actually dealing with all those nasty details that would arise if federal money were to come our way. And as far as disaster preparation is concerned, we seem to have moved well past the preparation stage. Even though we don’t seem to qualify to play the national game of Jeopardy for hard dollars, our legislators have found other activities to amuse themselves on our local playground. The House has been playing dodge ball for years with the budget, and the Senate, bathed in a fog of political intrigue that is even thicker than their normal fog, seems to have developed a penchant for musical chairs. While all this petty bickering going on at the Statehouse might appear to be unseemly to outsiders, we in New Hampshire can take solace in the fact that it is pretty harmless stuff. We have been smart enough to provide no money for log rolling or pork sandwiches, so all that these people are really fighting over are parking spaces and special license plates. It is getting increasingly difficult, however, for the media to figure out whom to accuse of incompetence in our government. In past years, it was pretty easy to rip the Governor’s office or the Supreme Court. But now the Democrats and Republicans are all mixed up in the same ugly brew at the Statehouse, and even the Governor probably doesn’t know to whom to talk to get something done. Forget about “Robert’s Rules of Order” or even “Mason’s Rules,” clearly Chaos rules. In a way, maybe this is how it was meant to be. The state hasn’t exactly been an icon of government competence with the clearly delineated lines of responsibility that we had in the past, so maybe total confusion will be an improvement. It is quite possible that New Hampshire is right on the verge of achieving political perfection: that state of being in which politicians spend more and more of their time doing less and less, until they finally spend all their time doing nothing. Relative to what has been happening lately, that would be all right with me. NH Glenn K. Currie is a Concord-based poet and essayist who considers a good sense of humor to be an unfunded federal mandate.

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