POWELL: Underneath the epidemic, economic disaster for state

Published on Wednesday, 18 November 2020 16:39
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By CHRIS POWELL

His handling of the virus epidemic has doubled Governor Lamont's public approval rating, giving him more fans than detractors. But judging from recent developments that are being overshadowed by the epidemic, the governor could be forgiven if he hopes the epidemic continues through the 2022 election and beyond.

For last week it was reported that Connecticut ranks last in the country for personal income growth this year, ranked last in the country in employment growth last year, and has the country's second worst ratio of state government debt to personal income.

Those reports essentially signify economic depression and insolvency, and eventually no amount of face-masking and personal protective equipment will be able to keep concealing it. Indeed, the growing evidence that the state and the country will just have to tough it out with the epidemic - evidence that lockdowns can't beat it but medicine increasingly can - may cause people to lose faith in current epidemic policy as it keeps destroying education, businesses, other aspects of health, and the very joy of life.

If, as seems likely, Democrat Joe Biden is inaugurated as president in January, the governor may reasonably hope for some sort of financial rescue from the federal government. But if, as also seems likely, the narrow Republican majority in the Senate holds, any rescue may be limited.

Regardless, no federal bailout will change Connecticut's prevailing economic conditions - the failure of the most expensive state government policies, particularly education and welfare, to achieve their nominal objectives and state government's general failure to nurture the private sector, which pays for government.

Indeed, as CTNewsJunkie noted last week, in January all wage earners in the state will suffer a half-percent income tax withholding increase to finance a new state fund meant to cover paid leave for medical and family purposes.

Politically correct as this sounds, it is crazy policy. Many people will pay a tax for a benefit they will not use, and everyone will pay a tax for a benefit people easily could arrange for themselves simply by saving the money they will pay in the new tax. State government will give people nothing here. It will only be taking again.

THE JUNETEENTH MISTAKE

Last week's best example of the posturing cynicism of government came from Manchester, whose Board of Directors voted to create another paid holiday for municipal employees - June 19th, or Juneteenth, which marks that day in 1865, which is widely misconstrued as the day slavery ended in the United States after the Civil War.

Actually Juneteenth marks only the end of slavery in Texas upon the arrival of Union forces there and their enforcement of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, whose effective date was Jan. 1, 1863. Since slaves were property being used to support rebellion, Union forces would seize and free them as military necessity.

But the proclamation applied only to states in rebellion. Slavery remained legal after Juneteenth in Delaware and Kentucky, slave states that had stayed in the Union and so were not subject to the proclamation. Slavery in the United States did not really end until six months after Juneteenth, on Dec. 18, 1865, when ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was proclaimed. Indeed, if slavery had ended on Juneteenth, the 13th Amendment would not have been necessary.

Manchester's gesture will not just teach people wrong about history but also cost the town's taxpayers about $175,000 each year as it gives town employees another paid holiday on top of the 13 they already have, quite apart from generous vacation and sick time. If, despite its mistaken premise, Juneteenth still had to be formally celebrated in Manchester, the Board of Directors could have substituted it for another holiday without incurring any cost. That the board did not do this reveals the new holiday's true purpose.

The board got to strike another empty pose to satisfy the interest group clamoring for the holiday and to give town employees got a raise, and townspeople got to pay more for less service.

Apparently the only other municipality in Connecticut that has made Juneteeth a paid holiday is New Haven, the chronically insolvent, chaotic, and dysfunctional capital of political correctness. That's some company for Manchester to aspire to.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns, Editorials on Wednesday, 18 November 2020 16:39. Updated: Wednesday, 18 November 2020 16:42.