• June 19, 2024

The politicians’ con: The grand gesture by Don Frost

 The politicians’ con: The grand gesture by Don Frost

DON FROST Author for ConservativeChoice Campaign.com

By Don Frost

            For generations politicians have beguiled us with smoke and mirrors, and it’s our own damn fault. We let them. We buy into their posturing and we reward them for it by supporting their grandiose gestures as though they were motivated by altruism, wisdom, and inside information we’re too simple to understand. Then we vote for them again and again.
            J.B. Pritzker, billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel chain and rookie Democratic governor of Illinois, and career politician President Biden are perfect examples. But first Pritzker. He just announced that the state, whose bond rating is near-junk status, will spend $50 million “to fight violence.”
            “We will do what it takes . . . to address the immediate violence on our streets and invest in fighting the underlying causes” of that violence, he vows.
            I began my journalism career in Chicago in the late ’60s when I first encountered the twin phrases “underlying causes” and “root causes.” With Pritzker’s pronouncement I see the clichés have not lost their panache. Both terms have been used to justify all manner of programs and policies launched to solve everything from street crime to absentee fathers to low school scores, all of which continue to plague Chicago after more than 50 years of assaults on their “underlying causes.”
            So Pritzker – shortly after announcing he’s running for re-election – is heroically “fighting violence.” What a coincidence: He just put $50 million of that cash-starved state’s money into his re-election coffers, telling voters that he has heard their cry: “We’ve just gotta to do something” about violence. Count on that $50-million scheme to be a theme of countless television campaign ads: “Vote for me because I’m fighting violence.”
            Illinois is a prime candidate for murder capital of America with Chicago leading the way. After every weekend the Chicago Tribune runs a story headlined something like, “58 people were shot over the weekend, 9 fatally.” The numbers vary, but the story is always the same. Through October 678 people were murdered in that city, up 57% over 2019. In the same period there were 3,766 shooting victims in Chicago, a 70% jump over 2019. Pritzker’s $50-million gesture won’t put a dent in those numbers a year, two, or even three years from now.
            Pritzker’s solution to Illinois’ violence? Pretty much the Democratic Party’s universal solution to all problems: Throw money at it; create a new bureaucracy. This time it’s to be called the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP). It will be headed by Christopher Patterson, a former convict and now a career bureaucrat, at an annual salary of $152,983. Who will staff this office and at what salaries was not revealed. But “patronage” has an all-too familiar ring to it.
            Before getting his new job Patterson was a senior director at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago which has been working to prevent violence on the city’s South and West Sides since 2015. These neighborhoods are still the epicenter of drive by shootings, drugs, and gang violence.
            So Pritzker has hired an officer of one failed violence prevention organization to head a new violence prevention organization.
            You might be tempted to think the OFVP would be charged with studying the problem and coming up with solutions. Wrong. Pritzker wants to outsource that task by hiring “university and research institutions” to study the problem (bureaucrats love to study problems before they do anything about them). When they’re through studying the problem they will offer solutions to the OFVP.
            While waiting for “experts” to study the problem and telling them what to do about it, the OFVP will be tasked with identifying the top 10 most violent areas in Chicago. (Grants will also be available to the most violent communities outside Chicago.) Any cop in Chicago and other cities in the state can tell you where the most violence-prone areas are without a lot of time-consuming and expensive research. In Chicago it’s the South and West Sides, dummies! If Pritzker thinks it will be helpful to break those areas down into 10 neat little square blocks, well, it’ll probably call for further study.
            Pritzker may believe his scheme is new and innovative. If he wants to admit to such naivete, so be it. But all Illinois citizens would do well to remember that in 2010, under Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois launched the $55-million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). It, too, had as its goal the prevention of violence on the South Side of Chicago. It, too, was launched on the eve of that Democratic governor’s run for re-election. It, too, accomplished nothing and dissolved in investigations of mismanagement.
            Jil (sic) Tracy, an Illinois Senate Republican, notes, “In the past we have handed out grants in neighborhoods and have seen that they were not used appropriately.”
            That can’t possibly happen again, says state Democratic Sen. Robert Peters. The OFVP, he assures, will be charged with making sure the money is properly spent. If only Quinn had thought to tell the director of the NRI not to mismanage that $55 million.
            Like Pritzker, Biden is a politician and a Democrat fond of gestures, the grander – and more expensive – the more impressive. The party’s theory is that whatever the task or problem, the more money you toss at it, the more likely the problem will go away. And if it doesn’t go away, you just throw up your hands and say, “Well, we tried. We just didn’t fund it enough.” Then you throw more money at it; hire experts to study it; maybe even establish a new bureaucracy.
            One problem that’s plaguing Americans and much of the rest of the world is global warming, aka climate change. Biden recently journeyed to Glasgow to attend COP26, an international conference on global warming, and to apologize for Donald Trump exiting the 2015 Paris climate accord, an agreement in which more than 120 nations promised to fight climate change. No nation actually did anything after that Paris conference. They just made a lot of promises and set goals to be achieved some day.
            China is still years away from the date when it promised in Paris to begin reducing pollution. The world’s leading polluter didn’t bother to attend COP26, probably in fear they’d face pressure to actually do something to reduce its polluting activities. Nonetheless, Paris was hailed as the planet’s salvation and one of Barack Obama’s greatest “achievements.”
            Evidently world leaders, including Biden, realized that after six years it was time for more grand gestures. You certainly can’t have a world summit on climate without coming up with promises and goals.
            Accordingly, Biden promised the attendees in Glasgow that he would meet the demands of poor nations and try to get Congress to appropriate $3 billion to give them. He calls these funds an “investment”; non-politicians call it “spending.” We have to take on faith that Biden will see to it that our $3 billion will not be spent “inappropriately.”
            In perhaps his most grandiose gesture, Biden vowed he would “work with the European Union and dozens of other nations” to reduce overall methane emissions worldwide by 30% by 2030. The White House further predicted new regulations in the U.S. would reduce our methane pollution 75% by 2030.
            Biden also is telling us – and the world – that the U.S. will be 100% dependent on wind, solar, and other “clean energy” sources by 2050.
            So he kicked the methane pollution problem nine years down the road, and the “clean energy” promise 29 years down the road. By both deadlines he will be gone and his grand gesture forgotten. It’s really quite irrelevant anyhow. Well before 2030 and 2050 there will be more conferences and more grand gestures. It’s what politicians do.
            Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen and darling of global warming fans, also traveled to Glasgow for the conference. She was Time magazine’s Person of the Year who addressed the United Nations and famously said, “Shame on you!” to representatives of the 120 nations that signed on to the Paris agreement.
            Thunberg was an observer in Glasgow; Ashley Lashley, 22, of Barbados was a delegate. Lashley characterized her fellow delegate’s droning on as “Blah-blah-blah.” Thunberg picked up on Lashley’s observation and is using it to characterize the conference in general. Another observer, Jason Cook, went to Glasgow with three friends. All four wore hats emblazoned with a single word: “Blah.”
            Expect Biden and other leaders to return from Glasgow, patting themselves on the back for their achievements. Whatever grand gestures they boast of it seems likely that history will judge the Glasgow conference, along with the Paris accord, as “Blah.”

Don Frost blogs at www.commonsense931.wordpress.com

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