Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The New York Times thinks it knows. Under the menacing headline “Their Real Agenda,” a recent editorial pounced like The Shadow on the nefarious conspiratorial plots of Republicans, Tea Partiers, and other knuckle-dragging neanderthals. Many states across the country have, like the federal government itself, spent themselves into a Grand Canyon of debt. And now here come the bad guys: “some politicians are trying to exploit their financial crises for ideological purposes.”
But wait a minute: didn’t the Times contract itself into a rictus of gloating satisfaction when Rahm Emanuel announced a couple of years ago that a serious crisis was not something you wanted to waste? Of course it did: then the Times was all hope, change, and “elections have consequences.”
How long ago it seems now! The really funny part of the “hidden agenda” editorial is yet to come. Listen to this:
Many Republicans want to use hard times to fundamentally reduce the role of states and public employee unions, in the same way federal tax cuts forced a debate on how to cut the deficit.
No, do you really think so? Is it possible that anyone would really want “to fundamentally reduce the role of states and public employee unions”?
Er, yes. Sounds like a good idea to me. And hark:
—“Some want to cut back severely on federal aid to the states . . .” Check!
— “others want to ensure that Washington will never bail out a state close to defaulting on its bonds.” check!
I left out an intervening clause: “no matter how much new joblessness that may cause.” Whoa! Don’t shoot that cute puppy in the corner! And above all, don’t ask whether fiscal responsibility “causes” joblessness. Once you start down that path you might begin to question the whole Big-Government-Knows-Best narrative. You might even reach back to the 1960s and ask whether all those Great Society programs were such a good idea.
The Times describes as “pernicious” the idea, put forward by “Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and several members of Congress,” of allowing “states to declare bankruptcy, for the principal purpose of tearing up union contracts and negating pension obligations.”
What a great idea! The problem is whether those contracts can legally be voided, even if states do declare bankruptcy. My panel of experts say the jury is out on that, at least in some states.
The funniest sentence in the editorial is this: “It is true that many public employee unions have done well during a time of hardship for most Americans.” You don’t say. But the problem, says the Times, is not the unions, but rather “the generous contracts willingly given to them by lawmakers because of their lobbying power.” The Times skips quickly over that sentence, as well it should, since the root problem here is the symbiotic relationship between the public sector unions and the regnant left-wing of the Democratic Party. The unions elect the lawmakers who then reward the unions with untenable promises of public largess, in payment for which the unions return the profligate lawmakers to office even as the lawmakers pilfer ever more of the public exchequer to reward the unions for new favors, after which. . . well, you get the idea.
You get it, but the Times doesn’t. After this little exercise in rhetorical legerdemain it climbs up on its highest horse and says: “Magic-bullet ideas like this one are no substitute for the hard work of governing responsibly.” “Governing responsibly,” eh? Let’s see, would that be like the folks in California, Illinois, New York, or for that matter in Washington? That sort of “governing responsibly” i.e., what any sane person would describe as “governing irresponsibly”?
I actually considered buying The New York Times this morning. I am on my way to Washington for CPAC and thought about picking up the paper to read the nauseating front-page story about the Century Club’s preposterous decision to rescind its reciprocal arrangement with London’s Garrick Club (I’ll have more on that efflorescence of politically correct self-righteousness another day.) I brought the paper up to the till: $2.00! I think the last time I actually bought the paper is was something like 85¢ (I thought a quarter was about right: the crossword puzzle was worth the price.) I returned the paper to the rack and read the story online, wondering exactly when the Times would finally succumb to the fiscal dropsy it has been afflicted with for years. I mean really: “Hidden Agenda” my foot. There is nothing hidden about it at all. The goal of the idea the Times calls “pernicious” is to restore fiscal sanity to America. Along the way, public sector unions should be decertified and once again made illegal, as they were until the late 1960s when the spendocrats got put in charge. There is nothing hidden about this agenda, or rather call it a goal, an ambition, a consummation devoutly to be wished for. I only hope that its lack of hiddenness becomes ever more obvious so that the people who pay the bills understand what a racket has been going on in their state and local legislatures, to say nothing of the monstrousness that is Washington.