This letter appeared in the October 21, 2004, "Peterborough Transcript". It was inspired by a series of left-liberal editorials and LTEs in the "Transcript", as is typical for that paper. They do print occasional conservative responses, and I thought that the way this letter goes about making its point and criticising DC Republicans might win some credit toward being a counterpoint piece, and sure enough it got in. I sent it with the title: Benson Admin. Like NH Town Votes
, which was changed to:
At least Benson's democratic
Love him or hate him, Gov. Benson's administration produces results more like NH town meetings than other recent administrations. A lot of people disagree with the budget-slashing governor, but if you look at the projects and outlays that New Hampshire towns actually approve in the "most democratic process in the world", Benson looks like a big spender.
New Ipswich's snow plow/sander truck decision a couple of months ago exemplifies the Yankee thrift in government that results from local, participatory democracy. The people of the town had twice voted down buying a new truck, so the selectmen honored the will of the people, repairing the truck rather than buying a new one -- a truck that city officials questioned the worth of repairing. But in a state government the whole atmosphere is different, even in Concord, the most fiscally conservative state capital. State officials are insulated from the immediate feedback and call-to-account-by-your-neighbors that is seen in town meetings. State officials can dream up plans to get them into history books as public benefactors, and get themselves and their cronies quid pro quo
. But usually, the details of those plans are so expensive or damaging to individual and town rights, that a town meeting would never approve them. For voters in state elections, it is not worth the time to understand the issues in enough detail to effectively disapprove. And once people become dependent on the state programs, how can you cut them?
Whether you like his talk, at least Benson walks the walk. Granite Staters know where Benson stands and what he intends to do, which is more than can be said for the country club Republicans in Washington, D.C., who are currently running the most insulated, undemocratic, and not-coincidentally, most expensive and intrusive, level of our government.Edit: Improved spacing.