Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Feigning objectivity

In my morning newspaper was an insert by a group that goes by the acronym, MERI, which stands for the Maine Economic Research Institute. This organization sends out their “Guide to Economic Performance,” which rates our state’s legislative body according MERI's own economic criteria.

For the unsuspecting, this supposed “benign” insert merely rates our representatives, so we can be better informed on how we should vote. With the average person utilizing their favorite excuse of being “too busy” to follow the issues, MERI would seem to be providing a helpful resource to the people of Maine.

In reality, MERI, like other similar partisan organizations, hides their agenda behind pseudo-science, in their case, economics. The bills that they use to assign ratings to the candidates are heavily weighted towards those deemed “business friendly," with 30 percent of the rankings coming directly from bills that have a business orientation. The next category is worker’s compensation/unemployment, which makes up 25 percent of their sample ranking. Taxation is next, at 11 percent.

Way down at the bottom are the environment, economic development and education (at a miniscule 1 percent). Apparently, the only things that matter to MERI, when it comes to governing our state, are making sure business has things their way. While there are certainly Maine businesses that care about their employees, education and the environment, unfortunately, many others are governed merely by self-interest and their own bottom lines. By weighting their rankings merely on what’s best for business, their report doesn’t accurately capture who are the best candidates for leading our state, only those who take positions that benefit the businesses of Maine, which usually are larger entitities, by the way, not the local small businesses that drive our economy.

Rather than relying on Augusta (or the crooks in Washington, for that matter), voters need to give more time to understanding the issues,than they do to their favorite reality TV program, or fantasy football league. Since our current form of government still allows citizen input, being informed and communicating our desires and wishes to our local elected officials is how our process should work, at least at the local and state level. If we cede our rights to others, we allow disingenuous groups like MERI and other partisan hacks more power than they deserve, allowing them to lead us all down the primrose path to perdition.

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