Liddick: Our current trust deficit
Indeed it is, and as the silly season begins, the point on which the temper turns is trust.
In Wisconsin, public employee unions and the Democrats missed their third shot at eviscerating the rather commonsense Gov. Scott Walker. It is doubtful they will get another, having failed miserably in their attempts to thwart the will of the state’s electorate. When he was running for the office, Gov. Walker promised to curb the worst abuses of Wisconsin’s public unions, whose cozy relationship with previous Democrat administrations had allowed them to “negotiate” contracts which were little short of a license to fleece Wisconsin citizens in perpetuity – resulting in a debt crisis that threatened to overwhelm the state. He kept that promise despite Democrat state senators fleeing the state to stymie action; despite occupation of the state capitol by mobs of unionists seeking to disrupt a system they could no longer control; despite vicious recall campaigns against his Republican supporters and even a justice of the State Supreme Court, all of which failed.
In turn, the people of the state of Wisconsin acknowledged the governor’s adherence to his word by returning him to office by a greater margin than they had elected him initially – against the same opponent. It was a clear-cut message about recognizing the need for responsible reform, and rewarding those who both promise and undertake it, despite the howling of those whose appetite for public money is being reduced from outlandishly voracious to only moderately gluttonous. Yes, public employees in Wisconsin will now have to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their own pensions and 12.6 percent toward health care. Tell a private sector worker that this is an example of ill-use, and see what happens – after they stop laughing, that is. Or looking for the torches and pitchforks …
In Colorado, we have our very own example of trust betrayed in the person of Matt Arnold. Mr. Arnold, for those who have not been following University of Colorado affairs all that closely, is the Republican candidate for CU Regent. He has also recently been caught in a forked stick of his own cutting.
On the campaign trail, Arnold has told voters he has a master’s degree in international economics from Johns Hopkins University, one of the nation’s premier graduate schools. This would be an impressive credential if the claim were true – which evidently, it isn’t. According to recent revelations from the school, Arnold does not have the degree he claims. He didn’t complete the required thesis. When questioned about the discrepancy, Arnold said he had written the thesis but that a computer crash had prevented its submission for approval.
This claim from a man who wants to be an overseer of one of Colorado’s premier institutions of higher education is … one must admit to being torn over the use of words describing organic fertilizer of the bovine, or equine, type: both certainly apply. As the recipient of a master’s degree myself, I have some appreciation of the effort required to produce a thesis, and the wisdom of using a thumbdrive, CD-ROM or some other form of backup while negotiating with one’s advisor over the final form. That a candidate for Regent is either ignorant of the technology to prevent loss of product, or so uncaring as to avoid their use is, to say the least, troubling.
And that he should claim to be what he is not is doubly so when one considers that he will be charged with oversight of academics such as Ward Churchill. If Arnold cannot be truthful about his academic status, what standing will he have in any disciplinary action against a member of the Wannabe Tribe?
Finally, a note about the effect of trust in national politics: currently, we are belabored with a president who by his own written admission, toked and drank his way through his high school years. By what strange alchemy then, did he arrive at Columbia, Harvard, and graduate magna cum laude? We don’t know; his records are sealed, and he remains curiously but firmly mute on the subject.
Was he “helped?” Undoubtedly. But by whom, and to what ends? We don’t know, he won’t say, and in the gap between the two, the trust on which a government of equals is founded withers. When it is gone, no amount of good will, of effort, of attention and nurturing, will revive it.
And we will all suffer by its loss.
Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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