Friday, April 10, 2009

Being a classical-liberal in Arizona is like being a Chicago baseball fan.

"It's finally 'next year'" was the prevailing thought on this 'blog and among the free-minds-and-free-markets set for a few short weeks in January and February. But it's shaped up to be more like 1994.

Not 1994 in politics, but 1994 in baseball, and those who know what those first four words mean will know exactly what I'm talking about. I don't follow pro ball anymore, but was a zealous young (White) Sox fan in '94. After years of being second to the Oakland Athletics and a quick playoff loss the previous year to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Sox were the dominant team in the AL and it looked like they might go all the way to the World Series. And then the players' union declared a strike in early August. What does a kid with a lifesize Carlton Fisk poster (at the time, a slight anachronism) on his bedroom door and still young enough to be a "fan" of a pro team know or care about antitrust law and pension contributions? The team you'd been cheering for since you were first taken seven years prior--time immemorial to a kid, and way too young to understand half the game!--to fabulously decrepit, intimate Old Comiskey ("Kaminski" to the old folks, which makes perfect sense to a Chicagoan!) was finally ahead, and then the whole thing stops. No fair! Bummer.

And after seeing school choice legislation, campus concealed carry and other firearms liberalization legislation, and the like thwarted by use or threat of Janet Napolitano's erratic veto every year since I moved to Arizona, and the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act thwarted in part because Napolitano allowed executive-branch leftists to campaign against it using "company" letterhead and on "company" time, I had hoped that, now that Napolitano has been replaced with Goldwater Republican Jan Brewer, this legislative session would bring progress. What I expected was for the legislative majority and the governor's office to move forward, rapidly, on consensus policies that neither thought would hurt their party's chances at the polls in 2010--for the legislature to act on the vision set forth in the Governor's inaugural address and also attempt some culture-war mischief to see what they can get away with.

Instead, it's been a one-topic session: how to balance the budget that the past few legislatures and Napolitano irresponsibly grew during the boom times in a sick cycle of appeasement.

The most exciting bill of the session, the HCR 2014 striker, is dead; HCR 2014 itself never received a first reading. I phoned Nancy Barto's office the day the striker caught my eye asking what citizens could do to aid its progress; her staffer remarked that any action on it this session would be unlikely.

But last Friday, to my surprise, I received a call back from Rep. Barto herself. (Paula Aboud, whose staffers never even return constituent calls, should take note.) I've only been watching the process for a few years, and I'm still learning the subtleties; Rep. Barto told me that it would be unusual for LRCAs to be acted on in the first session of the term. The goal was to get people talking about this so that we're ready if and when it makes the ballot in 2010. I remarked previously that the striker is far better written than the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act; according to Barto, all stakeholders were invited to the table when the bill was drafted, to the point where we'd be able to say "why didn't you raise your concern earlier." And although the bill did not receive first reading in the House, there's a chance that an information session will be held in a few weeks when the Senate starts considering House bills.

I'll let readers know of any developments as soon as I hear them. We can establish constitutional protections against health care and health insurance mandates and rationing in Arizona. This bill leaves no room for mal fide misinterpretation, our new governor is unlikely to tolerate Anthony Rodgers-style campaigning using State letterhead, and perhaps more importantly, thanks largely to John Cochrane, the public is finally becoming aware that "single payer" socialized medicine isn't the best or only possible healthcare reform. As the baseball fans say in Chicago, "next year".

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