Screw Unto Others

Because government intrusion is tyranny only when you're the intrudee
N.C. House

I wish I could buy a drink for the wise person who came up with this observation, which has served me well: Any time a right-winger accuses you of some terrible act, listen closely, because you're hearing a confession.

So it is in North Carolina with the Party of Freedom and Deliverance From the Shackles of Overbearing Government:

For years we heard conservatives say that the government closest to the people governs best. But they were talking about Washington. When it comes to Raleigh, the new Republican majority has not hesitated to use state power to advance their own agenda – even if it means disregarding local sentiment.

Most people still believe in local community control. A recent national poll conducted by Mason-Dixon found that 37 percent of those interviewed put the most trust in their local governments, as opposed to 22 percent in their state government and 12 percent in the federal government. Among Republicans, the local lean was even more pronounced.

But that is not how this legislature has been governing.

No, it's been governing like Hypocrisy Inc., although I'm not sure some of these guys are self-aware enough to even manage hypocrisy. It takes a superhuman level of obliviousness for N.C. Rep. Bill Brawley of Matthews to say this with a straight face: “They don’t want to have conversations. They want to have the right to do whatever they want. ‘Arrogant’ is a word I would use.” This is coming from someone who's leading a state effort to strip Charlotte of local control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. In political terms, it's like asking, "Why do you keep making Daddy hit you?"

But this is the shape of things. It's happening in other states, too, like our neighbor to the west, whose legislature is busy displaying its commitment to small government principles:

Concerned with the prospect of a local government setting up what one leader called a “little people’s republic,” the Legislature’s Republican supermajority is moving on several fronts to assert state authority over cities and counties.

Some Democrats and local government officials decry the trend as an assault on local control and incongruous with Republican criticisms of the federal government for dictating to state governments.

“The level of contempt that this Republican majority has for local governments and working people is simply disgusting,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory.

Turner’s remarks came after House approval Thursday of a bill (HB501) that declares local governments cannot put conditions on their contracts with businesses that require the businesses to pay more than minimum wages set by state or federal law, provide insurance or family leave. It also prohibits local governments from enforcing any ordinance on “wage theft,” wherein a company fails to live up to promises to pay a given wage or provide benefits.

The bill was approved 66-27 on a mostly party-line vote — Republicans for it, Democrats against — after a sometimes heated debate. House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, may have best summed up the GOP view of such legislation.

“The state of Tennessee created the local governments,” he said, “and not only did we create them, we’re responsible for their performance,” especially “the big cities” that impact the entire state.

“They are all economic generators for the surrounding counties. That alone is reason enough not to let them set up some little people’s republic in some city in the state of Tennessee,” McCormick said.

Some little people's republic. Right. He's talking about Nashville, for God's sake.

This is becoming a trend. It's about the exercise of power, always has been. Authoritarians are like that — defenders of "freedom" up to the second when they can deny it to people who won't do what they're told.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest