Archived Story

Meteorologists and politicians are similar

Published 9:13am Friday, May 10, 2013

Column: Notes from Home, by David Behling

There’s a joke I tell when I’m hanging out with clergy:

How are meteorologists, politicians and theologians all the same, but also all different?

All three tell lies, but meteorologists tell lies about the weather, politicians tell lies every time they make a promise, and theologians tell lies about God.

Some of those pastors even find it funny.

I think it’s hilarious, partly because it’s absolutely true; all three sets of “specialists” make claims that are questionable and ambiguous. Defending that claim about theology will have to wait for another day, however, as after recent newsworthy adventures, my attention is laser-pointed on meteorology and politics.

We’ll start with the weather: Snow in May. Snowcopalypse. Snowmaggedon. That’s what I heard last Thursday morning. The day before, though, it was mainly disbelief that snow was even in the forecast.

The meterological narrative this winter and spring went like this: One day, weather experts (along with their minions known as those-who-wander-workplace-hallways-claiming-to-know-what’s-going-on-outside) tell us to prepare for a storm so huge civilization itself is in danger of collapse. We get an inch, maybe.

Another day, those same weather experts and minions forecast flurries and promised it won’t stick. That was last week. And we ended up with so much snow that our trees suffered … and our aching backs and shoulders.

Oh the indignity of it all!

And what about those politicians? What are the Democrats doing in St. Paul now that they run the whole show? What are Republicans plotting, as they lurk in the dark corners of the Capitol?

None of them is very impressive. Overreach by arrogant Democrats in the Legislature is practically epidemic: taxes, unions, minimum wage, social issues. On gay marriage, Republicans finally proposed civil unions as alternatives to the full deal. Bit late, that.

Mostly, though, the Republicans have been quietly watching the Democrats in government, gathering ammunition for the next election. And there is plenty to gather.

The choice to revisit the gay marriage question this session, for example. We have a serious financial management problem in this state, along with a huge infrastructure bill for roads and bridges. Did they forget that?

It would have been better to let the full implications of last year’s vote against the marriage amendment settle in. Give older voters a bit more time to hear the stories of gay families. I think the majority of citizens will get there soon, but forcing it immediately will cause gay marriage opponents to react out of fear and ignorance.

Then there is the questionable efficacy of more taxes for corporations and businesses while hiking the minimum wage at the same time. How is that helpful? The trick to successful governing is to not cause more harm than absolutely necessary. Either taxes (more revenue for the government) or a higher minimum wage (more revenue for citizens) is possible, not both. And raising the minimum wage is the better idea.

This is not a liberal or conservative issue: Two full-time wage earners in a family of four should be able to pay for housing, health care, food, utilities and all other necessities — with a bit leftover for a movie and a dinner out once a month — without having to take on additional jobs or work over-time every week.

Anyway, before anybody’s rates go up, the Democrats should have scrutinized the tax code more closely and eliminated loopholes and deductions. This would have had the added benefit of simplifying the whole system for everybody.

And the state does not need more unionized government “contractors” in the form of child care workers. Are the people who get paid to raise young children — because we insist that their parents work outside the home — earning anything close to what the importance of their job represents to society? Absolutely not. But introducing the adversarial and alienating reality of union contract negotiations will only cause problems for the very workers and children the proposal claims to protect.

Oh, the indignity of it all. And the inefficiency.

Round and round the political wheel of fortune spins, and wherever we voters make it stop, it seems to always point at politicians who can’t wait to head to the extremes. And who know how to tell the most believable lies.


David Rask Behling teaches at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, and lives with his wife and children in Albert Lea.