This is how you run a state today. Please take notes.
First, you buy a copy of Through the Looking Glass. Pay for it with a check from a bank you just made up in your head last week. Sign the check "Alice."
Then commit yourself to believing "six impossible things before breakfast" every day, nine days a week, and twice on Gloopday.
Third, vow never to make sense again. Coherence, consistency and commonweal are the three K's to avoid at all costs -- they will just mess you up when, as The Man, you're trying to gin up popular outrage against The Man as a means of sucking up to the booboisie.
Fourth, if the public pays for it, the public owns it and the public benefits from it, convince the public that's just "socialism," a nefarious plot conjured up by pointy-headed geeks to steal taxpayers' money.
And finally, tell people there is such a thing as a free lunch, that they can get something for nothing . . . and that nothing is really Something, because when you're paying for something, that's not as good as getting nothing, which is Something, for nothing. Make this point to voters twice every Gloopday.
NOW THAT we've completed our overview of Political Science 1001, I think we're ready for a look at the latest public-policy pronouncements by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, the Pillsbury Doughmagogue. (Envision the Mad Hatter, only closer in appearance to Poppin' Fresh and prone to go "Hoo hooooooooo!" every time a state employee gets his pink slip.)
In today's edition of the Omaha World-Herald we observe Flippin' Nuts (which I think is the governor's Twitter handle, but I could be wrong) compare the state university to "a wealthy 'special interest group' with its hand out for taxpayer dollars while the state's citizens want tax relief."
Heineman, in an interview Friday, said that his top priority remains passage of his proposed tax-cut package and that the university needs to reprioritize its spending or use private dollars from its foundation to finance the $91 million in new construction spending it is requesting from the state.THAT'S BECAUSE there's nothing more offensive than cancer research. Unless, of course, it's the resulting economic development that would plague Omaha as a result of any major enhancement of the med center.
The university is seeking funds to expand nursing classroom space in Lincoln and Kearney, do design work on a new veterinary laboratory in Lincoln, and build a $370 million cancer research tower at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
"Here's what the average Nebraskan tells me: 'The university has over a billion dollars in their foundation, and they can't afford $400 million to $500 million to afford that (cancer tower) project?' " Heineman said. "They're offended, and they have a right to be offended," he told The World-Herald.
Everybody making money long-term -- or lives saved through cancer research -- doesn't change the fact that nothing says "socialized medicine" like a state med school and a state hospital run by a state university. Go Big Red, indeed!
MEANTIME, to borrow a quote from next semester's POLI 1002 required text, "Pay no attention to that comsymp behind the curtain!"
Ron Withem, an NU spokesman, said the university has worked well with the governor in the past and hopes to do so again this year. Withem said, however, that 30 "average Nebraskans" were among those testifying Thursday in support of NU's spending priorities before the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.IT'S A TERRIBLE thing when the chamber of commerce has been infiltrated, I'll tell you what.
"There were nurses, students, medical professionals and cattle producers telling legislators that they should invest in economic development and health initiatives at the university," he said. "We think the average Nebraskans did speak yesterday."
Withem added that the state's largest business groups, including the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, also support the NU requests.
Several members of the Appropriations Committee have voiced support for the university project, although they doubted NU would get the entire $91 million. Much, they said, would depend on the health of the state economy and competing demands for state dollars, including the governor's tax-cut proposal.
Some people just don't get -- to put it mildly -- that today's best practices for state governance do not include investing taxpayer money in public institutions. Especially education.
The most recent literature in political science clearly indicates that the only message Nebraskans need to hear is "Lie back, have another cigarette, and think of Reagan."
Of course, it's an entirely different thing if we're merely not putting money into state coffers in the name of non-socialistic private economic development. I mean, that money wasn't there in the first place, right?
Not putting money in isn't the same as spending taxpayers' money, right? It's just giving a tax cut to future corporate citizens. Tax cuts are good. And if we have enough tax cuts, maybe more state employees will get pink slips.
STILL, one has to have standards and procedures -- even when it involves not making future corporate citizens pay taxes . . . so that Nebraska is the state to which they won't be paying taxes.
For one thing, you have to recognize the devil you know (like the University of Nebraska), you know damned well is a devil. The devil you don't know -- like a secretive bunch of investor types who may or may not be from the West Coast -- you don't know is the devil at all. Really, they're probably great guys.
But we can't talk about it. Hell, we can't even know it. "N" stands for Nebraska, but it also stands for "no nowlege," which is always the best policy because "noing nothing" means there's one less thing you have to lie about.
In running a state's affairs, honesty, remember, is always the best policy. Unless, of course, it isn't.
And before we can move heaven and earth in the Legislature to give secretive investors massive tax breaks so that it's here they come to not pay taxes and build this really cool thing that might or might not be something that's really big and really high-tech, we have to know a few things. Like, we need to know that we only know their first names.
This, again, is consistent with best practices in the state-government racket. (See "no nowlege" above.)
We also need to make sure that the 30-something executives who want to not pay taxes here don't leave any business cards with anybody. And, like I said, we need to know that we don't know where they're from -- that's important.
Then, we need a fancy code name for whatever it is they won't be paying taxes on. The World-Herald said something about "Project Edge." Ooh! That's got kind of a certain je ne sais quoi to it!
Again, it's pretty important that je ne sais squat about quoi. Except that We Don't Know Who from We Don't Know Where are promising us a lot of Mystery Quoi.
But the potential economic impact of their project is no secret among state leaders: a projected $1.2 billion data center that could grow even larger.
It could bring a major high-tech business, one that would become the single-largest consumer of electricity in Nebraska.
The state is in hot pursuit of Project Edge, which is looking at breaking ground in May with an initial investment of $500 million.
State lawmakers are acting quickly to land the economic big fish, swiftly advancing two bills from committees last week in hopes of sweetening Nebraska's tax and electric-rate incentives to better compete with the reported main competitor for the project, neighboring Iowa.
"It's quite an extraordinary investment," said Gov. Dave Heineman, who has been involved in the recruitment effort. "We're one of the finalists, and I think we have an outstanding opportunity to have this occur." [Emphasis mine.]
State Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, who is championing one of the data center bills, used the words "huge" and "unprecedented" to describe the business opportunity.
The first phase of the proposed Project Edge data center would be nearly three times larger than the $140 million, 175-job Yahoo data center lured to La Vista in 2009.
Project Edge is projected to become twice as large as the $600 million center that Google located in Council Bluffs in 2007. Nebraska officials say the proposed new center comes with the potential to expand even more than the $1.2 billion projection used by state officials.
WHAT WE can take away from this is the absolute importance of distinguishing between a wealthy special-interest group with its hand out for taxpayer dollars and a wealthy special-interest group with its hand out for taxpayer dollars.
Providing state funds for a wealthy special-interest group affiliated with the people of Nebraska is bad -- offensively bad -- when it would further medical education, target a deadly disease that kills millions, enhance the prestige of the state university, eventually add to the state's tax revenues and be an economic windfall for the state's largest city.
Indirectly providing state funds for a wealthy special-interest group affiliated with men who (as far as we know) have no last names and (as far as we know) have no permanent address is good -- the best thing ever!!! -- when whatever the hell it is they're promising just might be big. Really big. Bigger than that Google thing those damned Iowans have.
At least that's what they're saying. You know . . . them.
But at least these Them aren't greedy public-university thems. And that's good.
Because the guy who runs the state -- the guy in charge of the government -- says government is bad. And we believe him because he's a good guy.
Go ask Alice. I think she'll know.