Common sense, intelligence abandon us in Annapolis

March 31, 2011

The legislature is close to finishing another of its illustrious sessions, and this one has had its proper share of contentious debates. If we are really being honest , we must admit that in all of the political opinions expressed from around the state, it is the issue of justice that most often provokes the passionate responses we have come to see in the Readers Respond section of The Baltimore Sun. We expect things to be "fair." Yet no one can agree what "fair" really is for any given issue.

Most often, what people complain about is the sense that, in our state, the issue of economic justice is seen in Annapolis through a strange prism that somehow is inexplicable to voters. After all, what seems to be economic justice for one may in reality be an economic burden for another. Is there ever any truly public good that can be fully explained and fully justified to the majority of voters? I think not. But that fact does not excuse the state from doing everything in its own power to govern efficiently and with above average common sense and intelligence.

My contention is, and has been for many years, that common sense and intelligence are not abundant in the decisions that come from Annapolis. We could do much better than we have been doing in delivering across-the-board decisions that resonate with a larger majority of educated voters. Please note that I said "educated" voters. All votes are equal by law, but not by means of the insight that generated them. Uneducated votes in sufficient quantity produce poor government by deficiency of common sense.

Yes, this is an elitist position but certainly no more so than many espoused by our governor. It's just that his conclusions do not resonate well with anyone who is committed to governance by law and not by ideology. Common sense dictates that we must govern first by existing law. The founding fathers would have been taken aback by the many past intrusions of this state onto basic constitutional rights in our founding documents.

It is fair to say that most of us realize by now that the governor and the legislature have been faced with hard economic choices for most of the past two years. These choices will not get any easier going forward. With each new spending cut or new tax or fee, someone will be alienated, and someone will be happy. These collisions are not avoidable.

The best and easiest way to start again would be to clean house in Annapolis and begin again, with fresh blood and new insights. In Maryland, that will never happen. History has proven here that ideology always trumps common sense.

Where is the real effect seen of all this marvelous education that we are supposedly providing? It is absent and unaccounted for at the ballot box. Where is the economic justice in that?

Frank O'Keefe, Perry Hall

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