About a week ago, I received a glossy oversized postcard from my state representative asking me to fill out a questionaire on legislative priorities. There are three questions to answer. Your first thought, I’m sure, is that this sounds like a legislator genuinely interested in doing his job and actually acting in accordance with the wishes of his constituents. And you would be wrong.
The first thing to remember is that my legislator is none other than Rick Saccone – who, with the possible exception of Daryl Metcalfe, is the most rabid teavangelical in the legislature. He is the primary sponsor of the “Year of the Bible” nonsense, the “Month of Prayer” nonsense, and the legislation mandating the posting of the “In God We Trust” motto in every classroom. All this after swearing to uphold the Constitution. So you know this guy is not anywhere close to a paragon of ethical behavior. And that’s before mentioning his previous role as a CIA contractor/interrogator at Abu Ghraib – something he used to ballyhoo when he first took office until he realized that most normal people considered that a negative and removed that reference from his website.
But even putting all that aside, all you really need to do is read the questions and the multiple choice answers offered and it becomes clear that the questions are phrased and worded in such a way as to preclude a specific result. Take, for instance, the first question:
“Pennsylvania spends $27 billion on K-12 education (sixth highest in the nation). Our state should…. 1. spend more on education; 2. spend less on education; 3. keep funding levels the same; 4. no opinion”
Notice that there is no mention that Pennsylvania has the sixth largest population in the US, which when coupled with the sixth largest expenditures means that the per capita spending is right in line with the other states. It also doesn’t make any mention that K-12 education as a function of GDP is woefully underfunded in comparison to the developed nations in the civilized world. So it’s obvious that this was intended to get a skewed result calling for reductions in education spending – giving him and his reactionary cohorts cover for promoting this teavangelical priority.
The third question is no better, and maybe even more disingenuous:
Our two state employee pension systems, the State Employee Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS), currently have a shortfall of $55 billion – and growing. The state should……1. place new hires into a 401(k) system and stop offering excessive retirement packages; 2. leave the system as is and raise taxes to pay for it; 3. take on billions in new debt to keep the system solvent; 4. no opinion
Notice that responses 2 and 3 have so much negative baggage attached to them that virtually no one would choose either of those. And while response 1 has some merit, it has the additional zinger of taking a shot at the supposedly overly generous retirement plans – the gravy train, as it were – that public employees have, a common canard that RWNJs are fond of spewing.
This is little more than a print version of a “push poll” that conservatives are so fond of using to get skewed results when they want to trumpet “support” for their radically inhumane or pecunious policies, most of which have been debunked many times over. And when you consider that it was sent on a slickly produced, full color red & blue themed glossy sheet featuring plenty of photos of Saccone in his flag shirt, it’s obvious that it is clearly nothing more than a piece of taxpayer-funded campaign promotional material that in addition to promoting Saccone himself, has the added purpose of promoting the teavangelical agenda. Utterly disgusting.