CHRIS POWELL: Intemperate Facebook post dispels state's real problems

Published on Friday, 15 October 2021 22:09

Connecticut was pretty normal this week. The cities again were full of shootings and other mayhem. Group home workers went on strike because, while they take care of people who are essentially wards of the state, their own compensation omits medical insurance.

Hundreds of health care workers were suspended for refusing to get a covid-19 vaccination. Tens of thousands of children went to school without learning much, since at home they have little in the way of parenting and thus no incentive to learn.

The two longstanding scandals in the state police – the drunken retirement party at a brewery in Oxford and the fatal shooting of an unarmed and unresisting mentally ill 19-year-old in West Haven – remained unresolved, the authorities apparently expecting them to be forgotten. They're probably right.

And Governor Lamont called for sticking with football at the University of Connecticut despite its worsening record and expense.

Nevertheless, the great political controversy of the week was something else – a Facebook post by state Rep. Anne Dauphinais, R-Killingly. It likened the governor to Adolf Hitler on account of the emergency powers that Lamont repeatedly has claimed and his party's majorities in the General Assembly have granted him in regard to the virus epidemic even though there no longer is any emergency – at least none involving the epidemic.

Rather than apologize for her intemperance and hyperbole, Dauphinais "clarified" that she meant to liken the governor to the Hitler of the early years of his rule in Germany, not the Hitler of the era of world war and concentration camps. This wasn't much clarification, since the Nazi regime established concentration camps just weeks after gaining power in 1933 and unleashed wholesale murder on its adversaries just a year later, on June 30, 1934 – the "night of the long knives" -- more than five years before invading Poland.

But so what if a lowly state legislator from the minority party got hysterical on Facebook?

Her name calling did no actual harm to anyone. The governor's skin is far thicker than that. Indeed, to gain sympathy any politician might welcome becoming the target of such intemperance and thus gaining sympathy.

Besides, Dauphinais' hysteria wouldn't even have been noticed if other politicians didn't make such a show of deploring it over several days. The top two Democratic and top two Republican leaders of the General Assembly went so far as to issue a joint statement condemning the use of political analogies to Nazism. In separate statements they criticized Dauphinais by name.

They all seemed to feel pretty righteous about it.

But meanwhile they had little to say about the state's problems that really matter, problems affecting the state's quality of life, problems on display throughout the week. Maybe they should thank Dauphinais for the distraction she provided them.

* * *

Will his support for UConn football be Governor Lamont's Afghanistan? Is the state just throwing good money after bad?

Now that Hartford wants to tear up Brainard Airport for commercial development, could Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford be leveled and Rentschler Field rebuilt as the airport it once was, replacing Brainard?

And will anyone ever take responsibility for anything at UConn?

Probably not. For even if UConn football is a disaster forever, it will cost far less than the disasters of Connecticut's education and welfare policies.

Why get upset at UConn football when the more Connecticut spends in the name of education, the less education is produced and the poorer students do, or when the more that is spent on welfare and social programs, the less people become self-sufficient and the more they become dependent on government?

The problem with UConn football is that results are still the object of the program and the public easily can see them –the weekly scores during football season and the losing record.

By contrast, the educational scores – the results of standardized tests – are publicized only occasionally and not on the sports pages, while the results of welfare and social programs are never audited and reported at all. With education and welfare, results are no longer the objective. They have become an end in themselves.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Friday, 15 October 2021 22:09. Updated: Friday, 15 October 2021 22:12.