The Last Word

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. But what planet are politicians from? Clearly they’re not from Earth, or we would have some idea what on Earth they’re all worked up about.

For that matter, it’s not just them but that whole group of people who lobby or talk on the radio or go on and on about the most inane things while the rest of us are busy trying to focus on our Final Four brackets or who ate the crackers I bought last week.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of these lunatics. I write policy papers about QICs, Icelandic tax reform, how the various budget funds ought to be structured. Then I appear on the radio – perhaps “appear” is the wrong word for radio — and debate people about the latest attempts to change the deadlines for this or the time limits for that.

It’s a very engaging little world. I’m just not sure anyone else is paying attention. And who can blame them? Recently, I fell asleep in the middle of my own diatribe.

We’ve all experienced some very well-meaning person explaining to us how important HB 624 is and how we all should be outraged that it might be ITL’d. Apparently we can save it in a COC, though. I’m very relieved, of course, but I’m not quite sure if that means my box of Wheaties is going to cost more or less.

Of course, it’s much worse if you’re a business. In that case, you have people who don’t understand what you do trying to help you do it better. There’s nothing as inspiring as a bunch of people who don’t run a business arguing with another group of people who don’t own businesses about who’s more business-friendly.

The other day I heard a very intelligent elected official explaining how terrible a bill was and that it was causing problems and should really be repealed. The small-business men next to me said to each other, “that sounds awful, I wonder what it’s about.” The other one said “something to do with insurance I think.”

This, by the way, is why education funding doesn’t get anyone excited anymore. A bunch of very excited people blathering on about overly complicated formulas. They don’t boil anything down so we’d have to invest an awful lot of time figuring out what on Earth they’re talking about. And I don’t really feel like reading an economics textbook after work.

At this point you can tell I’m part of those ridiculous chattering classes. I think I’ve just advised our political leaders to stop being too simple and to stop being too complicated. This is why I’m so good for talk shows.

Charlie Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.

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