There's something strange afoot
I sometimes think the term, “paradigm shift,” is overused. However, such a thing, a complete change of thinking, a change in practice, in basic assumptions, whatever, may be taking place in Little Rock. And what if it spreads?
Don’t panic, but it may be the end of the world as we know it.
According to the Associated Press, the Arkansas House voted down a bunch of spending bills to spread surplus money around lawmakers’ districts.
One representative spoke against legislators “who are determined to bring home a scrap of pork every session.” Of course, one is used to hearing things like that, but this time there was action.
No, I’m not making it up. Hang on. I don’t think that was an earthquake. It may have been the entire Cosmic Order rearranging.
This could be serious. In the article I read, there was no word on whether they’ll reverse themselves and vote the other way for those porcine payments later. I do know that denying pork is a radical idea, no matter how many politicians rend their garments and wail that they’re against pork and its cousin, waste.
The best definition of pork I ever heard was an extremely simple one. It came from Dale Bumpers several years ago, and I don’t know if it originated with him or not. Anyway, what he said was that pork is what the other guy is getting. I told you it was simple. That’s the definition, and that says it all.
The more you think about it, the more sense that definition makes. It isn’t pork if it’s getting you a new community center. It isn’t waste if it means a new park in your town. It’s only pork and waste if it’s happening over there somewhere and is benefiting someone other than Number One.
That’s how most legislators get reelected — not by passing laws that change the world, but by bringing some of that good old pork to his or her home district. Everybody loves barbecue. Whether it’s at the national or state level, keep the folks at home happy, and you’ve got a job until death or term limits catch up with you.
That’s why I get an extremely cyclical feeling every time I hear some politician decrying pork. Chances are, that same politician is making back room deals — you know what I mean (keeping the pork analogy going): Rep. Scalawag’s baby back ribs can slip through if Rep. Boodle’s picnic ham gets a pass.
That’s how it works, and has worked, since Day One in American politics, whether it was called pork or not. It may also apply in other countries, but I don’t know about other countries.
Anyway, be afraid. There’s no telling what might come next. Could this be some kind of virus causing this? What if it’s contagious? What if it spreads to Washington? Might politicians start telling the truth, all the time? Might the budget get balanced? Might there be a coming together of folks willing to work in a nonpartisan fashion for the good of the country?
No, no, scratch that last one. That’s not going to happen. What was I thinking?
(EDITOR’S NOTE: David Nichol’s column appears in the Times-Herald on Thursdays. Nichol is a member of the Times-Herald news team. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)