I remember, years ago, going into corporate headquarters and seeing little flyers plastered all over the place, flyers congratulating the company president on achieving his doctorate. I was impressed, until I asked someone what he'd gotten the doctorate in.
"Secondary Education," is what I was told. I've never checked it out, but I've no reason to believe the person who told me that was lying or mistaken. And since I was fully aware that any degree in education is one of the easiest degrees to obtain, perhaps somewhere just above "basket weaving" in difficulty, and since "secondary education" has exactly NOTHING to do with our alleged mission, I suspected, and suspect to this day, that getting that particular doctorate was simply the quickest and easiest way for our company president to get people to call him "Doctor So-and-So."
If that's what he wanted, I have to admit that it worked. To this day, everyone calls him "Doctor So-and-So," and I would be willing to bet dollars to donuts hardly anyone knows what that degree is, at least outside of his long-term employees.
Later, I asked my boss if he happened to know why the man pursued a degree utterly unrelated to his ostensible job, and he opined that it didn't really matter: "His real job is to schmooze with the politicians in The City."
Great, just great, I thought: the man at the top of our division is a lobbyist.
I think of that story every so often. I thought of it last week and this week, when every employee got multiple e-mails from corporate leadership, asking them to flood the switchboard at the state capitol, begging them not to cut our Medicaid funding.
Our Medicaid funding. That was most important. You didn't mention a thing about areas of Medicaid spending that had nothing to do with your allegedly not-for-profit business. The doctors and nurses and staff in other businesses that would have to cope with a shrinking state budget didn't concern you.
If you haven't already figured it out, this whole scenario absolutely galled me. You belong to a denomination that is so heavily identified with the Republican Party that I have actually run across people who refuse to join it because they believe they would be joining a wing of the Republican Party. Although I do not, of course, know, I would be willing to give three-to-one odds (were I a gambling man) that every man and woman in the corporate office is a registered Republican. The fact that the Republican Party is the closest thing we have to an anti-abortion party pretty much guarantees that.
The Republican Party is ostensibly the party of controlling spending, the party of getting government out of things best left to the private sector, of reducing the tax burden.
No one is mad enough to say that the state ought to just stop all Medicaid spending immediately; it would cause too much societal upheaval, as people who've come to depend on it, and all their relatives, would immediately find their lives dramatically changed. But I would bet dollars to donuts that if you asked rank-and-file Republicans in this state if they thought Medicaid ought to be scaled back, or phased out gradually, you would find most of them would agree. Certainly precious few of them would say that Medicaid spending should remain static and I bet almost none would say it should increase.
I am as certain as I can be without actually asking you in person, which I am not about to do, for I am sure the ensuing conversation would get me fired, that you would say you're in favor of smaller government.
Say it, yes. Believe it? Not so much, it appears. When it comes to how much money your business gets from the state, you howl and squeal and ask all your employees to join right in. No suggestions about how to increase state revenue, mind you. Just, "Don't cut our funding!"
You had the nerve to tell people to tell their legislators that we couldn't continue to do the kind of ministry we do unless the state remained "in partnership" with us, by which you meant, of course, that we wouldn't be able to take some residents unless Medicaid paid part of their tab.
You don't have any faith at all in the private sector to deal with the situation. You just immediately squeal that you shouldn't be ejected from your place at the trough.
Let me tell you, there is something in politics that has always galled me, and galls me to this moment: when someone has the nerve to suggest that stealing from your neighbors in order to fund your "ministry" or good works is acceptable behavior. And taxation unrelated to legitimate governmental roles is exactly that, in my book: stealing.
I hate that. And I would bet almost anything if some liberal came along and told you that he was going to float taxing you to pay for marriage counseling for homosexual couples who got "married" in Vermont you would say you hated it, too. Yet you had the nerve, when push came to shove, to characterize picking the pockets of the citizens of this state to maintain your margins as the state being "in partnership" with you. I wonder, ladies and gentlemen, how the people who find their share of that "partnership" coming out of their checks every payday would react to your impromptu lobbying. What would they think of your motivations?
I don't think they'd think much of it. I think they'd accuse you of masquerading as small-government conservatives when it comes to everyone else, and being big-government liberals when it comes to yourselves.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you're not Republicans at all. Maybe, instead of RINOs, or instead of big-government Republicans, you're flaming Democrats.
But boy, I'd hate to bet on it.