Friday, October 12, 2007

The Problem With Realizing The American Dream

The Roundup excerpts from a Merc article (I'm too lazy to remember my log-in or re-register today) about Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez getting "pummeled" this week over how he uses his campaign accounts. His sin? Traveling a bunch on not-the-state's-dime.

Oh dear. Let me raise my hackles. Nope, they aren't going up.

But what's the real sin here? That his "lavish spending contradict[s] the image he cultivated over the years as a champion for the working poor."

Does it really? Damn, I thought he was a role model for the working poor. And Pitzer grads. I see no contradiction in working to achieve a powerful position and then benefiting from the expanded world view to which one can be exposed in that position - if one takes advantage of those opportunities. And Núñez frames it best: 'I think the fundamental question here is, should I use campaign funds for trade missions and educational missions, or should I be using government money, or should I be using non-profit entities that sponsor trips like these?'

It's campaign funds he's using. Let's be clear about that. This is money other people just give him. Under the law, it's given with no strings attached. If donors don't like what he does with it, they can stop donating. If he were using taxpayer money, perhaps the bitching and moaning would be warranted. If sketchy outfits were sponsoring his travel, that would be, uh, sketchy.

It's the great American paradox, isn't it? We've got so many Americans living in or dangerously near poverty (a level that is laughably rigged to decrease the number of people who technically meet the requirement, while hiding others who need help badly), yet true tax reform probably won't happen because everyone believes they'll make the $800k or so per year needed to trigger the scary-scary tax consequences about which the rich howl. Hell, I want to make that much. I probably won't. But once someone makes money, makes a name, puts themselves in a better position than his parents - boom! - he's an out of touch richie who must be of lesser character for no longer living the hardknocks life we're all supposed to work our way out of. Clear? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Anyway - give the guy a break. He's one of the most effective politicians this state has seen in a LONG time. Don't beat him up because it's an otherwise slow news week.

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