Wednesday, March 01, 2006

 

Hapless confusion: The Missoulian tackles Schweitzer's priorities for 2006

Today the Missoulian editorilized on the governor's priorities for 2006. Here's the gist:
In listing the many good things he'd like to accomplish, the governor illustrates well why government tends to fall short on most of its goals. It takes on too much, especially too much at once.
Have they even read the governor's press release? When I read it, I thought the proposal was modest, maybe even too modest! Here are excerpts from the governor's energy proposals:
--Governor Schweizter will seek a commitment from industry for a coal-to-liquids and/or a coal gasification plant. --The Governor will also work for a financial commitment for several additional wind farms in Montana of various sizes. --Governor Schweitzer will assist the development of transmission capabilities to better enable power export to larger markets and finalize the plans for the Alberta Tie, which will foster private construction of wind generation in the Golden Triangle. --Continue to grow oil and gas production. --Increase production and use of biodiesel. --Governor Schweitzer will continue the Warm Hearts Warm Homes program.
Got that? In other words, Schweitzer will simply encourage the engergy industry to pursue altnernative technologies. No state money is involved, no new programs created, no new bureaucracy. Just encouragement. Not exactly an ambitious energy program. And the same is true across all proposals. Schweitzer's basic message is "all's working as planned" and "more of the same," which is good news for programs like CHIP. The Missoulian meanwhile, instead of commenting on the actual proposals, veers into an near-indecipherable expository rant on semantics:
The notion of “priority” suggests one thing has greater importance than or precedence over the next. A list of priorities is by definition a list in which the first thing takes precedence over the second thing, the second thing over the third - and so on...
Then digresses into a stream-of-consciousness rant on laundry lists:
It's the irrepressible instinct of politicians to draw up laundry lists of important things to do, any one of which stands as a worthy goal but all winding up largely unattainable because the effort, cost and resources necessary to make headway on several make it difficult to commit enough to accomplish any particular one.
Um...what? Nevermindthat, here's what the Missoulian wants (even admitting that it's never been tried):
A better approach - we can only assert this, not prove it because it's never actually been tried - would be to settle on one thing as a priority, accomplish it, then find a new priority. This is an argument for more limited government - government that takes on less but accomplishes more, or at least does a better job on what it does accomplish.
Uh...unfortunately, the state government actually does many things simulataneously, like running a school system, police force, takes care of state highways, etc & co., so it couldn't actually abandon, say, education while concentrating on energy or vice versa. Moreover, this editorial smacks of pandering to small-government proponents. Do less! shouts the paper while conveniently ignoring the actual text of Schweitzer's proposal and with a cavalier disregard for the realities of running a government. I'm not a blind Schweitzer-backer either, but the Missoulian's incoherent scramble to find something wrong -- anything! -- seems to indicate that his proposals are pretty d*mn reasonable. Whatever happend to good writing?
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