Thursday, July 20, 2006

Buckeye in a Coal Mine

Mark Hyman is infamous for focusing on issues that don’t seem to have any direct connection to the majority of his audience. A recent example is his editorial on the budget woes in the state of Ohio. True, Sinclair does have three stations in the Buckeye state, but why subject the rest of us to what would seem to be a state issue?

But perhaps Hyman realizes the symbolic importance of Ohio as a microcosm of what’s wrong both with the electoral process and with government of, by, and for the G.O.P.

The specifics of Hyman’s editorial come from
The Buckeye Institute, which he labels a “non-partisan research group” but which in fact is a conservative think tank. The group, and Hyman, bemoan state spending on things like attracting tourism and spending on cultural facilities such as museums.

Cutting “pork” like this, Hyman argues, would help the state live within its means.

Hyman doesn’t acknowledge the fact that tourism doesn’t simply profit businesses related to tourists, but brings in money that helps the entire state economy, nor does he recognize the fact that by promoting and supporting cultural sites also helps bring people into the state, where they pay for lodging, buy meals, go shopping, etc.

Hyman also doesn’t say whether he actually believes the upshot of his argument, which is that government shouldn’t subsidize businesses. My guess is that, being an employee of a company that has profited handsomely from its ties to legislators, that Hyman only objects to subsidies for those businesses he doesn’t have a particular fondness for.

But the elephant in the room here is responsibility. Who’s presided over this spendthrift state government? Republicans.

That might not be true after November.
Scandals have rocked the Ohio G.O.P., including its governor, who is now one of the least popular elected officials in the nation. A number of big money Republican donors and members of government have been implicated in “Coingate,” a scheme in which taxpayer money was invested in the rare coin business of a major G.O.P. fundraiser, who promptly “lost” a large chunk of it. Up to $12 million dollars is unaccounted for.

I don’t think the $400,000 the state government used to support the Football Hall of Fame in Canton is the state’s biggest problem when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Then, of course, there’s the countless voting problems that emerged in the 2004 election. You don’t need to think that the problems actually affected the outcome of the election (although Robert Kennedy has made a good argument that this may have happened) to be appalled at the systematic disenfranchisement that went on in the state, or nauseated by the cynical
Kenneth Blackwell, who while running as the Republican candidate for governor, is also still the guy responsible for overseeing the election process itself and refuses to relinquish that role.

The result is that the state government of Ohio, dominated by the G.O.P. in both the legislature and the governorship, more closely resembles the political apparatus of a lesser former Soviet republic than a state in the oldest democracy in the world.

In his attempts to reframe Ohio’s woes in terms of a mere lack of fiscal frugality, Hyman tries to spin G.O.P. corruption into G.O.P talking points. And it’s understandable why he’d do so. Given its infamous role in the last presidential election and the scandals plaguing its Republican-controlled government, many see Ohio as a microcosm of the U.S., with the corrupt leadership of its state government mirroring the problems we see at the national level, where the G.O.P. has also presided over any number of scandals.

But, as is typical, Hyman doesn’t want to actually practice accountability by pointing the finger at fellow Republicans who are in charge. Glossing over the larger problems and the people responsible for them, Hyman tries to de-politicize the problems in Ohio by chalking them up to a failure to follow right wing philosophy.

My guess is that the voters of Ohio, if they are all actually given a chance to vote in November, will do better at placing blame than Hyman does.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 3.42


At 1:13 AM, Anonymous hyman's turtle said...

hyman happened to be in columbus the day the "buckeye point" aired and you'll love this; he paid a visit to sinclair's local affialite (WSYX is their top earning affiliate by the way) and appeared on the 5pm news in an interview segment. he also found time to stop at the local children's hospital and read to sick kids as part of some program (no word what he read or how he was recieved) but the video was on the news and it was priceless. later, he attended some Navy awards dinner where he was man of the year or something (he attended the usna and was in naval intelligence). it was quite the whirlwind tour.


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