Talk to a Tennessee Republican for more than 15 minutes about philosophy of government and no doubt they’ll parrot that they want to “get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
That quote from nihilist-in-conservative-clothing Grover Norquist is so fetishized by the GOP, it’s all but plastered on the wall at caucus meetings, awaiting the worshipful slap of eager hands like Notre Dame’s famous “Play Like A Champion Today” plaque.
While Tennessee’s legislative Republicans will no doubt be happy to perform the final act and thus take credit for the government’s destruction and the resulting anarcho-fundamentalist-capitalist paradise, there is the messy and complicated matter of doing the shrinking.
They need their own Rick Moranis.
Rep. Glen Casada and Sen. Jack Johnson have proposed the creation of an Office of the Repealer — an executive branch position charged with identifying unnecessary or “oppressive” state laws and recommending their repeal to the legislature.
The cognitive dissonance of creating more government with the ultimate goal of creating less government notwithstanding, is dubbing some ex-Republican legislator as Lord High Cancellor really worth the $75,000 he’ll be paid?
Upon election, Gov. Bill Haslam promised a top-to-bottom review of state government, with an eye to eliminating redundancies and unnecessary positions. This review resulted in a statistically insignificant level of cuts.
At their press conference, Casada and Johnson rattled off a number of state laws they find humorously unnecessary. Things like the prohibition against the launching of more than 25 balloons. While that law is certainly silly, the number of jobs created by its elimination will be nil, unless local balloon men, desperate to blow up a 26th balloon, have been hoarding balloon-blower resumes for decades.
Identifying these laws doesn’t require a new government position. It requires typing in “Weird Laws TN” into Google and clicking on any of the legion of websites that collate these anachronisms.
Not to put too fine a point on it — but don’t the people of Tennessee elect legislators to craft laws with the goal of creating a better and more efficient government? Why add an executive branch position when there are 132 (allegedly) perfectly capable lawmakers, all of whom (presumably) can read and think on their own? All of whom have some notion of what good government is, and are all allowed — even charged — to write legislation reflecting that philosophy.
What is the Lord High Cancellor if not a sinecure?
Tennessee is already paying people to run the state and now Republicans want us to pay people to eliminate it? Maybe the supermajority is so cynical they are willing to pay someone $75,000 annually so they have a scapegoat for when some popular project falls under the Cancellor’s ax?
“Well, we asked him for recommendations and this is what he recommended. Don’t blame us.”
Allow me to make a recommendation: Do your job. Don’t hire an old pal to do it for you.