Monday, July 14, 2008

Newspaper wisdom

The Salt Lake Tribune recently published an editorial in which they lamented the small turnout of Utah voters, perhaps the lowest in the country. At the same time, Newsweek had a graphic showing that McCain's chances of carrying Utah in the November election were 100%. I've known for months now that my vote was going to go to McCain whether I marked him, Obama, or Groucho Marx on the ballot. So, where's my incentive to vote? I wonder if it ever occurred to the guy who pens the portentous and pretentious Tribune editorials that the reason most people don't vote is that we are a one party state. Why vote? It won't count. I still marvel at how few people actually take cause and effect into consideration when viewing the world around them.
I've been a conservative and a Republican all my life. They seem to me to be the lesser of the two evils of the system (I'd rather be ruled by greed than by idealism any day). But it seems to me that it's time to switch parties. Not that I believe in the Democrats' creed; I don't. But I do believe that one-party rule leads inevitably and inexorably to corruption. Apparently our legislators are adept at keeping church and state separate. That is, what they talk about on Sunday doesn't seem to influence what they do in the legislature.
Utah is at a kind of a crossroads. It's halfway between a machine political state and a genuine republic. In a machine-run state, you get things done by knowing the local ward heeler. Want your street patched? Talk to the man who knows someone who knows someone and it gets fixed. It worked in Chicago for years, may still be that way. The problem in Utah is that it's kind of a covert machine. No one will admit that such a thing is even possible, and yet it's clear that the only difference between Utah politics and Chicago smoke-filled-room politics is that there's no smoke. I don't think we'll really achieve a republican (lower case) state while there is only one party. We need Brigham Young to rise out of his grave and say, "Everything north of South Temple is Democrat; everything south is Republican."


bekkieann said...

Here's an ethical dilemma for you.

Back in the 80's I did some free-lance work for a State govenment agency, at the highest level, and was charge with confidentiality due to the sensitivity of the information I was working on. It involved a $20M state contract. In the process, I was inadvertently given a printed timeline that identified not only the bid award date, but the awardee. This before the bidding had even opened. At first I thought it was just a slip-up. But later the bid was awarded to the named firm, even though they were not the lowest bidder.

At the time I still had a written copy of the timeline. I had no idea what to do with the information, so I did nothing. There was great controversy in the news as the firm receiving the contract was an out-of-state firm and the State officials involved had prior business relations with them.

I have always felt complicit in that nasty little bit of corruption. I know now that my knowledge of lawbreaking trumped my promise of confidentiality. To this day I regret my silence.

bekkieann said...

Oh and one more little twist. These guys, holding top ecclesiatical positions in the predominant religion (read Stake President, etc.,) were very concerned, considering our tight deadline, that they not be responsible for my having to work on a Sabbath (which I did anyway since the paper had to be on the gov's desk Monday morning).

What would you have done in the same situation?