The current $3.7 billion budget deficit facing North Carolina presents a golden opportunity to re-evaluate the size and scope of state government. Presented with this opportunity, however, Governor Bev Perdue has failed to clearly articulate her vision for government’s role in society.
For instance, Perdue recently revealed a broad outline of her “reorganization plan” for state government. The plan included consolidating or privatizing some state agencies and a hiring freeze of “non-critical” state positions.
In an email to state employees discussing her reorganization plan, Perdue stressed that her priority is for state government to focus on its “core priorities.”
Readers of the email eager for Perdue to clearly define her vision for what she believes to be the state’s “core priorities” were left wanting. Perdue’s message disappointingly included only a vague and principle-free passing reference to “jobs, investing in our children’s education and safer and healthier communities.”
Unsurprisingly, Perdue’s lack of vision has resulted in confusion from state agencies as they try to define which positions are “critical” in their agency so as to implement a hiring freeze of non-critical positions. As mentioned in a Raleigh News & Observer article, “Perdue’s call for state agencies to voluntarily impose a hiring freeze for noncritical positions is being met with varying degrees of support, wariness and questions over what state jobs should be subject to a freeze.”
It seems that without a clearly stated vision of the proper functions of state government, assignments to identify “critical positions” can quickly become an exercise in futility.
Perdue’s lack of a clear vision has also created much uncertainty regarding two significant issues facing North Carolina: privatizing the ABC system and legalizing video poker. Perdue is waiting for the results of a consultant’s study on the impact of privatizing the ABC system before committing to a position on the issue, saying “I’m not quite there. I need to know what its worth. I need to know what its worth to the taxpayer.”
Similarly, Perdue remains uncommitted about the legalization of video poker, even though she admits she is not “philosophically opposed” to gambling.
If the governor was interested in defining her core principles and beliefs regarding state government, the answers to these questions wouldn’t require any studies; they would be quite simple. State control and monopolization of liquor sales is either a “core priority” of state government or it is not.
Furthermore, if she is not philosophically opposed to gambling (and in fact she was the tie-breaking vote in favor of the state lottery as lieutenant governor in 2005) she would find no reason to criminalize video poker.
But it does seem that, in spite of her reluctance to clearly state her beliefs on core functions of government, Perdue has recently offered some significant clues as to the principles that guide her decisions.
First was on the issue of legalizing video poker. Perdue sent her chief of staff, Britt Cobb, to a video poker parlor to report on the atmosphere at such locations. In response to Cobb’s report that the parlor was smoke-filled and “the saddest thing he’s ever seen,” Perdue said "I don’t believe I’m the mother of North Carolina, that I should …regulate people’s personal choices, but I don’t like what I heard from Britt and I don’t like what I see.”
Have you ever noticed that the word "but" often reveals someone’s true thoughts? For instance, a person may start a sentence saying "I’m not a racist, but…." and then proceed to say something extremely racist. In other words, injecting the word “but” in such a way is an indicator that whatever was said before “but” is untrue and the speaker’s true intentions are revealed after it.
In this case, we can see Perdue does believe she’s "the mother of North Carolina."
Similarly, Perdue had this to say about corporate welfare: “I don’t like them (incentives), but they are part of the game.”
Translation: Perdue likes incentives.
It seems by these most recent statements that Perdue is unwittingly providing us with a glimpse into her belief system. And what we find is a person committed to the nanny state with a healthy dose of crony corporatism.
It all adds up to someone who favors the accumulation of power in the hands of the ruling class at the expense of individual liberty.