and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
March  2004 #2

Hypocrisy in full bloom under Golden Dome
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, March 11, 2004

A friend of mine asked me this week if there is a correlation between those who think Martha Stewart should go to jail for lying to the feds and those who think Bill Clinton should have been impeached for lying to the American people.

I have no idea, but I do think it's a good idea to condemn lying wherever we find it.

I don't really get the insider trading thing, being neither an insider nor a trader myself. What if one decides to sell a stock and while reaching for the phone gets an incoming call from some insider who says the stock is about to drop? What do you do then?

I guess I'd wait till the stock actually was seen to fall before I sold it, just in case someone should ask. And if asked, I'd tell the whole truth just the way it happened.

The basic rule, Martha, is: Never lie. And its corollary? Never do anything that will get you in trouble if you follow the basic rule.

One reason Clinton got away with immoral behavior is that he wasn't a conservative Republican.

House speakers Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, on the other hand, stepped down when caught. Although, to be fair, I don't recall them preaching family values; it was just assumed that they betrayed the Republican stereotype. 

But it was generally understood that President Clinton had no rules, so he couldn't be accused of hypocrisy when rules were broken. Hypocrisy is the cardinal political sin.

Take the social issue of the year. If would be devastating to the "defense-of-marriage" cause if one of its married leaders were caught having an affair with an intern, which so far hasn't happened. But the Catholic Church has lost some moral authority on the issue of sex in general, just in time for this debate.

On the other side, the gay marriage advocates' ad pleads, "Don't put discrimination in our constitution."

"Our" constitution? The same one that requires a vote on an initiative petition in the constitutional convention, a vote that they lobbied lawmakers not to take in 2002 no matter what the constitution required?

The teachers unions' pleas for more money for "the children" has become a classic example of hypocrisy as the money is spent on teacher and administration pay hikes while programs are cut. In Washington D.C., many politicians express concern for minority students while refusing them education vouchers that could help them escape bad schools.

Here in Massachusetts, House Speaker Tom Finneran's lectures on fiscal responsibility coincided with a doubling of the state budget under his watch. Legislators use "job creation" as a campaign theme, while refusing to reform the unemployment insurance system that costs businesses money which could be spent on employing someone. They also deplore cuts in human services while allowing millions to be spent on incumbent-protection redistricting.

Digressing for a moment from my theme: Why doesn't the state give high school kids the raw population and district data and ask them to come up with a computer-generated, totally nonpolitical plan? The student whose plan looks least like a gerrymander would win a scholarship to UMass, where he/she could study politics and never do anything simple and obvious like that again.

The latest example of political hypocrisy concerns the cost of elections.

Democrats held the election for Cheryl Jacques' open state Senate seat on presidential primary day to give the Democratic candidate an advantage, though they insisted that their reason was to save that district's communities the cost of a special election. Now they want to change existing law to hold a statewide special election for John Kerry's U.S. Senate seat, should he become president, instead of letting Gov. Mitt Romney make an appointment, costing communities nothing.

The Republican candidate won the contest for Jacques' seat anyhow; and I suspect that the governor will prevail one way or another on the U.S. Senate seat. I think he should save taxpayers' money by appointing one of his kids, or maybe Kerry Healey, to hold the seat until his gubernatorial term is over. But Democratic leaders may insist that the voters decide who gets to be interim senator, even though they usually hate every initiative petition that those same voters pass.

If one of the Democratic congressmen wins the special election, communities will then have to spend more money for another special election to replace "him!" Gov. Romney can then use the election hypocrisy issue to continue his two-party system project, and take his victories into a future race for U.S. senator. I think he'd be a great replacement for Sen. Kennedy, but he mustn't leave until Charlie Baker is convinced to run for governor.

See, I've got the whole "no new taxes" future mapped. Meanwhile, I'm going to ask my state representative to file a bill that will allow Proposition 2 overrides only at regularly scheduled state or local elections. Since this will save cities and towns the cost of more special elections, it should be very popular on Beacon Hill.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.