Snow Obsession isn’t News; More Taxes Aren’t ‘Reform’

Chris Powell


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Government in Connecticut is often mediocre but it usually excels at clearing the roads during and after a snowstorm like last week’s. Maybe this is because while some failures are easily overlooked or concealed, there is no hiding impassable roads. They risk political consequences.

So people in Connecticut can have confidence that even the heaviest accumulations will not cause catastrophe — that their road crews will defeat the snow before anyone starves to death.

Then what explains the obsession of the state’s news organizations, especially the television stations, with celebrating the obvious when there is going to be snow?

First they tell us that the road crews will plow the roads again. Then they show us the plows, as if we have never seen them before. Then they interview someone or even the sand at a public works garage. Then they stand out in the snow to show that it’s falling. Then they broadcast from their four-wheel-drive vehicles as if snowy roads are a surprise. And when the storm has passed they spend almost as much time reporting that the snow fell and was plowed out of the way.

The actual information conveyed in these tedious hours could be distilled into a couple of short sentences, and even then it seldom would convey anything that couldn’t have been guessed.

Meanwhile the investment banks are looting the country, the state and municipal employee unions are looting state and municipal government, Connecticut’s cities are suffering horrible mayhem every day, and some longstanding and expensive public policies keep failing to achieve their nominal objectives — but nobody reports much about those things even when the weather is warm and sunny and offers nothing to scare people with.

Maybe market research has assured news organizations that people crave to be told what they already know, since what they don’t know risks being scarier than a mere snowstorm.

But then news organizations should not call snowstorm reporting news.

Maybe it is meant only as entertainment, but then even reruns of “The Jerry Springer Show” might be more enlightening than watching snow fall on a TV screen when it’s also falling in even higher definition on the other side of the window.

After they have explained whatever is meant by their snowstorm reporting, maybe Connecticut’s news organizations can explain how they can call “tax reform” the proposals of state Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and his colleagues on the liberal side of the Democratic caucuses in the General Assembly.

For “reform” conveys a favorable judgment — “reform” always sounds good. But the accurate and impartial term for these tax proposals is increases, even when they are aimed at “the rich,” since “the rich” already pay far more taxes than everyone else.

Further, Looney and his allies long have said they want “the rich” to pay “their fair share,” but ever since the state income tax was enacted in 1991 no formula has been offered for calculating a “fair share.” In these circumstances “fair share” means only more, even as journalism again fails to question the terminology.

Ever since 1991 more taxes generally and more taxes on “the rich” particularly have not saved Connecticut as was promised back then. Instead Connecticut still faces huge state budget deficits, is the second most indebted state on a per-capita basis, is losing population relative to the rest of the country, and despite many public needs government here has made only one legally binding promise: to pay pensions to its own employees.

As a matter of law in Connecticut, all those other public needs can go to the Devil, and indeed are on their way, casualties of “tax reform.”

News organizations are just as misleading when reporting about Connecticut’s “defense” contractors. For manufacturing munitions isn’t automatically defensive, since munitions also can supply the stupid imperial war of the moment. Two decades of war in Afghanistan have not been “defensive” any more than a decade of war in Vietnam was.

The accurate and impartial term is military contractors even if, being full of military contractors, supposedly liberal Connecticut seems ready to abide any war, no matter how stupid, no matter how long.


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