I spent most of yesterday afternoon at the capitol in St. Paul. [No, Minneapolis is not the capitol.] I attended a hearing by the senate committee on Environment and Natural Resources regarding a state cap & trade policy for greenhouse gases.
How - in the name of all that's holy - does the government manage to operate? This is what I pay taxes for?
Truly edifying experience. Who was pro and con? Which committees the bill must go through to pass? (Farm & forestry businesses are explicitly left out of the bill. Why ??? Because the Committee on Agriculture is one of the most powerful, and they would simply kill the bill.) The choice of arguments by the 2 sides was equally educational. The Pro side was mostly "it's important and means a lot to many people", except for the prof. of economics. The Con were, with one exception, from the utility industries [the other was from a mining company up north]. Their arguments were all focused on "it will destroy the economy and bring about the end of western civilization" and "it will force me to make changes" and "we don't want a state cap & trade, it is more appropriately regulated by the federal gov't". [Yeah, like that's going to happen in the next 20 years.] Both sides left me cold. Only 1 senator (Rep.) had any explicit objections to the content of the bill. Of course, he wanted 80% of the bill eliminated, too.
The Pro failed to communicate the grounds of their support. The Con cried about things that weren't even in, nor required by, the bill.
Only one member of the committee (Dem.) was obviously prepared for the discussion. It was one of the greater moments in my life of self-control that I didn't stand up in the chamber and scream "what are you doing?"
In clean blue jeans and a nice sweater, I was by far the worst dressed person there. Absolutely every single person in the room was wearing at least a jacket & tie (or female equivalent). Black & white hound's-tooth seems to be in fashion this season.
The one entertaining part of the trip was watching some reporters from Minn. Public Radio and the AP corner some politicians. Definitely not a job for a wall-flower. It was like a choreographed 2-step. The one senator was more adept at the dance, but didn't make it around them. The governor didn't try very hard (probably because he knew the point of the reporter's interest was already a done-deal, and not in his favor).
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