What's government for?

Much of the conflict between progressives and reactionaries these days seems grounded in fundamental disagreements about the role of government in human affairs. I used to think those disagreements were limited to a few fringe issues where the lines were fuzzy and honest opinions might differ . . . but lately I’ve been convinced that the differences are much deeper, much more fundamental, and much more dangerous.

To begin, reactionaries start with the premise that no one should be forced to ‘invest’ their tax dollars in ventures they don’t approve of. In his daily diatribe against all things progressive, for example, John Hood rightly points out government subsidies for the Randy Parton country music complex in the northeast part of the state are probably not appropriate uses of public money. I have long considered the whole business of economic incentives to be wrong-headed - and Hood and I are surprisingly aligned on that issue. Unfortunately, John relies on extremes to make a point that cannot sustain generalization.

But if I as a taxpayer am being forced to "invest" my money in an enterprise, that is a different story. What if I dislike country music? What if I'd prefer a taxpayer-subsidized outlet for Broadway show tunes? Or opera? Or Gregorian chants? Choosing among musical genres to favor with government largesse is not something politicians should be doing. Let them focus on legitimate needs -- keeping the streets safe for nightlife of all sorts -- and the rest will work out fine.

But what if I disagree about ‘investing’ my tax dollars in keeping the streets safe for corporate cronies of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq. 'My' tax payments are going to fund the excesses of companies like Haliburton and Blackwater, and I don’t like it one bit. Is such a war a ‘legitimate need’ worthy of reactionary praise? I’m guessing Hood would say shut up and pay – and if I don’t like it, I can try to change things through elections. Aside from my friends in the tax-revolt movement, most people would agree that I don’t get to choose where my taxes get spent.

On both of these extremes - the invasion of Iraq and the Randy Parton project - it seems easy enough to find agreement among most people. Average North Carolinians would likely have difficulty understanding subsidies for a country music complex, while they’d fully support at least the illusion of funding for national defense.

It’s the vast middle ground, however, where agreement is more challenging and where reactionaries lose their footing. Issues concerning the environment, education and healthcare, in particular, strike me as areas in which private enterprise has a track record of miserable failure. Governments properly own land to make it available for the common good. Local, state and national parks would not exist if left to private enterprise. Poor people suffer immeasurable harm when healthcare is left to market forces. And the gap between haves and have-nots widens dangerously when education is a scarce resource made available only to the affluent.

Reactionaries like Hood don’t care a damn about the common good. They’re all for the rich getting richer and the poor getting screwed. They figure the environment will just get so bad that eventually ‘market forces’ will step in and clean it up. And if you happen to be a poor, uneducated serf who gets cancer or lead poisoning along the way, tough shit. Which isn’t surprising since Art Pope, North Carolina’s right wing sugar daddy, is footing the bill for all their knee-jerk opinions. Imagine if these people actually had to compete in the marketplace of ideas on their own merit. Would anyone actually pay to read what these guys think if they weren’t backed by Art Pope’s money?

Enormous wealth buys a lot of influence. It corrupts government, it subverts democracy, and it generally undercuts the common good. That’s just what North Carolina reactionaries are all about . . . and that’s what elections are all about. Will we be a state of the rich, for the rich and by the rich? Will we be a state where our elected officials are more accountable to the purse strings of Art Popes? Or will we be a state where everyone has access to public education, clean water and air, and good health care?

This is what Democrats stand for.


Okay. I have the answer.

Government is for paying bad designers to create crappy logos in a hurry. I've been in the design business for a long, long time, and this logo sucks. It's busy and complicated, and it requires three colors to make any sense. But I expect nothing more from North Carolina's "Education" Lottery . . . in fact, I expect much, much less.

Is this the official logo

Or the based on Microsoft clipart logo that they didn't want anyone to see?

Nope, this is the real thing.

Plus this just in by email . . . sorry, no links.

Raleigh ad firm pulls out of state lottery contract

One week after winning the rights to promote the new state lottery, Raleigh advertising firm Howard, Merrell & Partners has given up the three-year, $8 million contract.

Charlotte advertising agency Wray Ward Laseter has been named the new contract awardee, lottery officials said Tuesday.

Howard Merrell & Partners said in a written statement released Tuesday that its withdrawal from the deal was necessitated by a failure of its parent company, The Interpublic Group of Companies, to meet certain bond requirements set by the lottery.

As part of the contract to handle the lottery's advertising, Howard Merrell was required to put up $1 million worth of bonds as a deposit to ensure top-level performance, according to Howard Merrell spokeswoman Stephanie Styons.

"[IPG] has issues meeting the bond requirements for Howard, Merrell & Partners," agency officials said. "IPG could not resolve the issues in a timely manner. As a result, IPG advised Howard, Merrell & Partners to withdraw from consideration."

"The whole firm is disappointed," Styons said. "The only thing that's good about this is that we were the lottery's first choice."

Lottery spokeswoman Pam Walker and IPG spokesman Phillippe Krakowsky did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Lottery director Tom Shaheen said in a written statement that his staff began negotiations with Wray Ward Laseter and another Charlotte firm, Mullen, as soon as Howard, Merrell & Partners backed out of the deal. Both firms were among the finalists considered prior to the initial selection of Howard, Merrell & Partners.

Founded in 1977, Wray Ward Laseter has grown into one of Charlotte's leading marketing and communications companies.

Which means the lottery is settling for second best. Which is pretty much par for the course with these clowns. I guess that big bonus for the big guy is driving a lot of stupid decisions.

I think this logo says it all

The county fair is going to ROCK this year!!!!

I can taste the funnel cake.

What's that??? Lottery you say, really. Hmmm....

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

Ya know....

I haven't been in the design business and that is really, really awful.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.