Connecticut Politics Watch

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Wishing Well

Over the next few articles I am going to examine some of Ned Lamont’s television commercials. What we need to look at is what the commercials seem to be implying, and attempt to analyze what Ned’s position on the “issue” is. In essence, we need to determine what he plans to do to change the “problem” he sees. As we do this analysis, we need to remember that we have been duped many times by politicians promising things that they have no chance at changing.

In this article we will be taking a look at Neddy’s commercial called Wishing Well. The ad, which you can see here (the last one of the TV ads as you scroll down), starts off with Ned narrating about wishes as various costumed people march by a wishing well and drop in money.

His first statement is:

“In America, no one should have to wish for medicine…

On the face of it, this is true. Nobody should have to wish for medicine. Leaving aside the fact that we are probably the most over-medicated country on the face of the earth, there are people in need of medicine that can’t get it. And Ned is correct that something needs to be done. But what Ned doesn’t mention that there are many, many programs already in place – both government and private – that provide support for pharmaceutical needs. Take for example, the Husky program for children in Connecticut (soon to be replaced by a newer program as I understand it), the programs for indigenous/homeless/shelter, the new Medicare drug program, etc. And before you start, almost everyone understands that due to the bureaucratic nature of governments, administration of these programs is unwieldy, but it does not mean that people can’t take advantage of them.

In essence, what Lamont is referring to here is his “plan” (read as “pipe dream”) for Universal Health Care. Of course Ned has no real plan for how to implement something like this. But it sure makes good “buzz talk” for the masses. And doesn’t that sound like the typical democratic talking point? I mean, it sounds good, but what are the real world implications of Universal Health Care? How much would it cost? How would the government, in all it’s lack-of-efficiency, going to handle this? Would we need another new, huge bureaucracy to handle the program? Where would the money come from? And probably the most important question of all, does anyone trust the government to make good decisions about an individual’s health? Add to that, do you really trust the government to protect your personal data?

Ned continues:

…or decent classrooms…

I don’t think that anyone would argue about this. Quite honestly I feel that the federal government does not belong in our classrooms to begin with.

Depending on the measure you use, NCLB is either a minimal success, or a failure. What is unfortunate is that our entire public school system is an over-funded, under-achieving, government monopoly. Picture it this way – schools are now regulated so tightly on what has to be taught each year, that teachers have no way to help children in trouble, or children who are gifted (although more emphasis is placed there). Federal mandates and requirements. State mandates and requirements. And when you add in the fact that unions protect under-performing teachers, you end up with the mess we are in today.

With all that said, just what is Ned’s plan for making it better? In all of the rhetoric he has put out, he has not articulated any plans whatsoever. What is the solution? Is it to throw more money at the wall and hope that it sticks? Is it that he wants vouchers? What? Ned’s word seems to be, like that of John Kerry during the 2004 election, “Trust me. I will fix everything. Bush is bad.” That is the sum and substance of the campaign.

What did Lamont say next? Let’s review:

…or secure retirement.

This is interesting, especially coming from a leftist-elitist worth over $90 million. I suspect it is a reference to the Social Security system. And again, on the face of things, Ned is correct. People should not have to worry about their retirements. However, we know that for all the people who are depending solely on Social Security for their retirement, they are in serious trouble. With Baby-Boomers retiring in droves, and people living longer, it is not a question of if Social Security will become bankrupt, but when.

There have been several attempts to fix the problem. But due to partisan wrangling (on both sides), all we ever get is band-aids to the problem. We have a series of patches that may extend the fund, but do nothing to fix the problem.

The real issue is should the government be responsible for people’s retirement? My opinion is that they should not be. Give me my money and let me invest it the way I want. If my spouse and I had been allowed to invest the money we have put into the system we would in all probability have a retirement fund that would provide at least twice what Social Security will give us – and that using “safe” investments. However, just because many of us can be disciplined in investing and preparing, many aren’t. So what do we do?

Now, the question that has to be asked with regard to Ned Lamont is, what is his plan to fix retirement for all of us? As with everything else in the commercial, he has no plan, just words. Is that what we really want from a Senator? No ideas what to do, just “trust me.”

Ned continues:

No one should have to wish that their mom and dad won’t be shipped off to war…

I agree with that too. Nobody would wish to see a loved one go off to war. But to think that Lamont can provide us with options where nobody ever gets shipped off to war is very, very unrealistic. Try to name one administration over the last few that did not have to commit troops to a foreign soil.

I think that what Neddy is trying to get at here is the anti-Iraq war movement. Well and good. We know his stance on this issue. In fact, it is the only issue in Ned’s entire campaign where he has advocated a plan, even if not fully-formed. And that is “cut and run.” And while many people are disappointed in the progress of the war, there have been major results there. We could debate the issues involved all day, but suffice it to say that this claim is the heart of Ned’s campaign.

Finally Ned says:

Still, every day we spend billions of dollars, and nothing changes….

Yes. Our government does spend billions of dollars every day. To pay for those billions, we are taxed beyond belief – not only in formal taxes, but in hidden ones also. And the GWOT has added to that, and has added to our deficit. So did all of our natural disasters, Katrina being the biggest. And yet, the deficit has been cut in half in shorter time than expected (not the debt, the deficit). The economy has shown incredible resiliency. Things are not as bad as they have been painted.

But does Ned Lamont really expect to reduce the amount of money the country is spending? With programs like Universal Health Care, more band-aids for Social Security, and more government intervention in our schools, does he really expect that we will not be spending more money than we are now? What are his plans for doing that? How will it be accomplished?

Quite honestly, I think that Ned has been spending to much of his time at the Wishing Well. Too many quarters wishing for solutions and votes, and not enough time in the real world.