Monday, November 18, 2013

Too Much Power Equals Danger

This post is not directly related to education. It may sound like the whining of an aggravated political partisan, but it is not. I am not necessarily opposed to the laws referred to below, but I do find the PROCESSES alarming. Abuse of power is never a good thing, and concentration of power tends to be corrupting — as demonstrated repeatedly through the millennia of recorded history. It appears that no amount of power is enough for those now in charge of our affairs....

In Michigan, the Republican Party firmly controls all branches of government, but that level of power is apparently not enough. In the legislature, for example, they routinely use voice votes to give immediate effect to legislation, despite their not having anywhere near the super majority required for that, should the votes actually be recorded. This legislature now also routinely attaches a small appropriation to any act it wants to make referendum-proof, to keep those pesky voters from getting in their way.

For example, the people voted a year ago to repeal an emergency manager law (which allows governor-appointed czars to take over municipalities and school districts bankrupted in large part by huge cuts in state revenue supposedly mandated by other laws). That aggravated the legislature, which immediately passed a replacement law, attached an appropriation so that it could not be repealed again, and used a bogus voice vote to give it immediate effect — clearing the way for the Detroit bankruptcy, among quite a few others in process or soon to come.

Another irksome thing has been the way folks keep trying to stop such over-reach through lawsuits, which are first heard by the Lansing-area (read: Democratic) Circuit Court judges. Yes, their rulings can be overturned by Republican judges on the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, but that slows things down!

Enter the fast-tracked Public Act 164, which moved the Court of Claims (for lawsuits against the state) from the capital’s Circuit Court to a panel of four Michigan Court of Appeals judges, all to be named by the (5:2 Republican) Supreme Court rather than chosen by blind draw. It was, of course, given immediate effect by bogus voice vote, and cases already before the Ingham County Circuit Court were transferred to the new panel.

Interesting side note: the Michigan Judges Association chose not to oppose the new law, as members lobbied that doing so would endanger their hoped-for pay raises: it would be “a suicide mission” while “it’s big boy politics being played.” Sure enough, two days after the law was passed, the long-awaited bill to increase judicial pay was introduced. EVERYONE denies any connection.

Things just have a way of working out for you when you get out of the way of this determined political majority. And vice versa. I don't know about you, but I find the whiff of tyranny in this kind of steamrolling frightening.

1 comment :

  1. You should be angrier than your post. It made me angry. I've just about given up on national government and our local government is a joke. But I thought our state system was reasonably balanced. Just luck more than anything. I'm beginning to feel like the USA is a failed state. I already feel like the experiment we call democracy has failed us, or it has at least been hijacked by people who feel so strongly that theirs is the best course that they will cheat to get there if they can't do so by playing fair. But maybe that's just me.