Thursday, November 12, 2009
Back in the dark ages of political campaigning, the candidates would routinely issue "White Papers" which where in-depth statements on where they stood on a variety of issues from the environment to economics. "White Papers" went out when they invented the infamous TV 10-second sound bite. Who wants in-depth? Apparently Rick Snyder does. He's the non-politician running for governor from A2 and the other day, there it was a full-blown position paper on how to re-do the state budget process. His "Value for Money" concept is really a rehash of already tried and failed methodology for brining more order to spending state tax dollars. The touchtone of his "concept" is to allow common folk to pick the priorities. It's the same idea House Republicans had several years ago when POG or the Price of Government was all the rage. The R's were going to reinvent the budget wheel and staged closed door focus groups with citizens and in the end POG was a bomb. Governor Jennifer Granholm also tried her hand at soliciting public input before she put her budget to bed. It was a flop, too. She wanted to pump up state support for higher education but at her town hall meetings, the folks wanted no part of that. So now comes Synder applying his business acumen and hoping that he can get it right where others got it dreadfully wrong. "Don't ignore the citizens," he glows. Nothing wrong with that, but let's be honest, what do they know about state services? Everyone wants cops on the streets, firefighters on the ladders, free school and college for everyone and lots of guards to keep an eye on all the crooks behind bars. You don't need a focus group to figure out the obvious. The problem with budgets is that there are nuances the public (1) doesn't care about and (2) wouldn't know how to nuance if their life depended on it. Regardless, high marks to Mr. Snyder for trying to bring a reasoned and in-depth discourse to the campaign. But it did not exactly make a splash in the media which either ignored it or gave it a minuscule four paragraphs.