Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dishonesty is the Best Policy

(photo by leff)

This quote from a local paper, which reports that our Congressman earmarked $4,757,500 for historically black college and university graduate programs:

“The Congressman believes it is critically important for the nation’s energy security that qualified members of underrepresented minorities be recruited to pursue graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, especially given the demographic changes occurring in the nation’s population,” said the Congressman’s spokesman, FNU LNU.

The Congressman resorts to the time honored three-step program for lying to the public about pork:

  • Step One: Identify pork you need to defend.
  • Step Two: Go to approved list of latest hysterical fad “gotta have it” societal priorities identified by New York Times and 100 nuttiest professors.
  • Step Three: Jam pork and hysterical fad priority concepts together in painfully long and poorly constructed sentences that use hamburger helper intensifiers like “critically important.”

Sadly, the Congressman is lying even when he doesn’t have to, the sure mark of a career politician. Can anyone really believe that “the nation’s energy security” depends upon this earmark?

Why couldn’t the Congressman just say something truthful, like this: “historically black colleges and universities have been underfunded for decades. This money is a small but effective investment in graduate programs that will pay for itself many times over by turning out productive and sorely needed scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”

Maybe Congresspersons (I use the turgid impersonal because it sounds funny to me, and also because lots of Congresswomen lie, too) have to lie to justify spending a couple million on hormone replacement technology for bot flies, but why lie about something as obviously meritorious as graduate programs for minorities in science, math and technology?

Because for many Congresspersons, lying about their pork spending is purely reflexive. No higher order functioning needed. Just a simple reflex:

(photo by Leo Reynolds)





Works every time.

Our Congresspersons know they shouldn’t have passed those last couple of spending bills, the ones that created the $1.7 trillion deficit. Remember? That’s $1.7 trillion for fiscal 2009. With the 9,000 earmarks. And by the way, the $1.7 trillion estimate is probably low, per the Congressional Budget Office. Not that anyone is counting, really.

So that’s the gig. Fire-hose the pork grease all over your constituents, let them wallow for awhile, then get your spokesperson to do the three-step “justi-lie.” Dishonesty is the best policy, even when honesty works. 535 national lawmakers can’t all be wrong.

With warmest personal regards,

Eternal Optimist

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