Guest Column for July

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2012 at 9:44 pm

The State Assembly Becomes a House of Horrors


If it is hard to describe the 2012 Short Session of the General Assembly, it is because the first phrase that comes to mind does not really apply. To the best of my knowledge, none of our senators or representatives has ever – voluntarily or involuntarily – been committed to a psychiatric hospital. Therefore, the capitol circus can’t be “lunatics taking over the asylum.” What is certain, however, is that things have been brought to a nutcase boil and the only item on the menu is goofball gumbo.

Among the highlights, the Assembly determined the state canot afford to compensate eugenics victims, but can afford to pay businesses, by way of tax credits, for funding scholarships to private schools. Do not try to imagine a moral universe in which such shameful hypocrisy is appropriate. In the words of King Lear, “That way, madness lies.”

Of course, the Assembly is no friend of public schools. It funds public education grudgingly, only because our state constitution requires it. Alternately, the Assembly has boarded the bandwagon for charter schools, pitched to the public as an “educational choice,” when in reality, charter schools are a monumental scam.

Relatively few sponsors of charter schools actually have the wherewithal to establish and manage a school. The others, finding themselves in over their heads, hire “educational consultants,” typically big, out-of-state corporations which, for a a fee (a.k.a. our tax dollars), contract to staff, operate and supply the schools. In contrast to genuine charters, these consulted charters typically perform no better or worse than the public schools with which they compete. Often, the consultants even discretely help organize the nonprofit sponsors that contract for their services.

It’s a rotten swindle, with the public pockets being picked by education profiteers – and I mean “profiteers” in the sense of war profiteers who, through the ages, have exploited public need for private gain. Our Assembly’s relationship with these profiteers reminds of the painted lady who happens to be profoundly demented. After an evening of pleasure with a client, she pays him for the pleasure of her company.

Even worse, the Assembly must have gotten as high as Jerry Garcia’s kite from sniffing natural gas. They approved fracking. In the name of “energy independence.” Despite the fact that North Carolina has minimal gas resources to frack. Despite the fact that the Appalachian mountains are unsafe for fracking. But, to hell with clean rivers and safe drinking water! At least the owners of Mystery Hill will have a new attraction: not only will tourists gawk at water flowing from the miracle tap, but they’ll be able to touch a match to it and watch water catch fire.

And, it must have been clown day in the Senate, with everybody wearing big red noses and floppy shoes, when they voted to bar science from being considered in the making of coastal management plans. Even our zany House had enough sense, after being goaded by The Colbert Report, to amend that ridiculous language before the bill finally passed. It was a close call, however – too close – so close it prompted me to scour through committee reports looking for other wacky bits of business might still lurk on the legislative agenda.

In turns out that a bill to help small business owners got stuck in committee because of disagreement over whether 5’0” or 5’2” should be the height requirement for “small business owners.” Additionally, the same coalition responsible for the Gay Marriage Amendment was coalescing in opposition to the bill on the ground that height is a matter of choice, not genetics, and should receive no special treatment.

That same group also wants legislation to ban the use of microscopes and telescopes in the state. As the introductory language to the bill explains, “Had God wanted us to see microbes and planetary rings, He would have given us keener eyesight!”

A movement in the House to ban our courts from ever applying Sharia law has been slowed by a beggars lice coat of amendments that would also proscribe the courts from applying Murphy’s Law, the Peter Principle, Newton’s Laws, Occam’s Razor, Robert’s Rules of Order, Hammurabi’s Code, L.A. Law and the Feingold Proposition, which holds that a pound of goose down weighs more than a pound of horse dung if what you’re planning to do is make pillows.

My favorite item of lingering business is a proposed constitutional amendment to change the State Motto. Currently, it’s Esse Quam Videri – “To Be Rather Than To Seem” – which is considered too liberal and optimistic. The proposal is for a motto that would more truly reflect what the role of government in the Old North State should be. It’s Augeo Pauci, Utor Minor, Sucuro Nullus – “Enriching Few, Employing Fewer, Benefiting None.”


Back in the early ’60’s Ben Philpott was named an Honorary Page of the NC Senate, which he now considers to be a dubious honor at best.  

  1. Glad to be reading tidbits from the mind of Beno again. Man I miss your posts.

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