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12/12/2007 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

Gov. Hoeven finally stepped in to resolve the mess at the Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) bureau. Hoeven let the board which governed the agency go on until it literally hanged itself and lost the support of most Republican legislators. Hoeven demanded the board fire the agency’s head, Sandy Blunt. It did by an 8-2 vote. But it gave Blunt a golden parachute of about $140,000 with his dismissal.

This gouging of taxpayers came on top of legal fees and paid leave for months for Blunt while he was under a legal cloud.

In the last legislative session a bill was introduced which would have put WSI under the governor’s control. The Republican legislature didn’t trust the Republican governor, so the bill was defeated.

Next time around, the WSI board is likely to be retired and the governor given the authority he should have had from the beginning.

Hoeven had no legal authority to step into the fray, but he used the prestige of his office to bring the mess to a conclusion and he should be commended for that.


Hoeven is an imminently successful politician. His approval ratings are sky high and his negatives are very low. He’s a kind of low key, pragmatic individual who doesn’t throw his weight around. The goofy right wingers in his party should take note of his success and think twice about trying to thwart his objectives. I don’t expect that to happen. They aren’t smart enough.

Like conservatives everywhere they are governed by ideology. Common sense and pragmatism don’t enter into consideration.

The conservative philosophy is based on the false assumption that government is always bad and private business is always good. That’s the bedrock of conservative ideology.

It’s just not true! Government can be bad or it can be good. Private business can be good or it can be bad. It depends on what the people demand.

I think the GI Bill was one of the best investments government ever made in its citizens. Conservatives, of course, opposed it because it was a government program, and government can do no good.

Social Security is hated by conservatives because it’s a program that really works. The administrative costs of this program are extremely low. George W. Bush tried to begin dismantling Social Security with his private or personal accounts, which would have gotten private businesses into the money trough. The people saw through this and wouldn’t stand for it.

Social Security is a program that has some problems, however. Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan and the Democratic Congress cut a deal which raised taxes and cut benefits. A similar fix is going to be needed in the future — the sooner the better. But the conservatives say no tax increases and the liberals say no benefit cuts. A compromise which includes both is necessary and will eventually happen because Social Security is a wonderful program and is absolutely necessary for all but the very wealthy.

Do you want to go back and read the second sentence in the last paragraph? Ronald Reagan actually played a part in a tax increase because it was good for the nation.

Unfortunately, the Social Security surplus since then was spent by Republicans and Democrats alike. A new "fix" will have to put a stop to that.

Medicare is in deep trouble. George W. Bush and his conservative cronies insisted on bringing the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry into the Medicare picture and look at the mess and confusion we’ve got with Part D. This should be a program administered by the government just like Social Security. The massive paperwork could be eliminated with the government acting as the single payer as it is in Canada. I’ve never met a Canadian who was willing to trade the Canadian system of health care for ours.

Canadians don’t lose everything they’ve scrimped and saved over the years when they are forced to enter a nursing home.

Social Security is socialism. Does that shock you? It’s true. So is unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, minimum wage laws, food and drug laws and a host of programs that make life better for people. True to form, conservatives opposed Social Security when Franklin Roosevelt instituted it in the 1930s. They also oppose other government programs on principle because government is bad.

If I’m not mistaken the US is the only major industrial nation that doesn’t have socialized medicine. Like it or not, the US is going to eventually have socialized medicine. The conservatives are perfectly happy to have people paying outrageous premiums for medical care because it benefits private business. Premiums will soon be $1,000 a month for a family. This simply can’t go on. The conservatives don’t care if people can’t afford insurance. People can go without insurance and medical care because, horrors! We can’t have socialized medicine!


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