Bridgeport policy wonk Jeff Kohut, in a commentary, declares “Connecticut’s “Pequod voyage” has not yet actually begun and won’t begin until we elect our real “Captain Ahab” governor in this year’s elections and we begin the journey of socioeconomic-political “redemption” that will either take the Republican form of killing the Great Democratic Populist White Whale attempting to surface or the converse, Democratic form, which will try to kill the Great Republican Fiscal Restraint White Whale.”
When considering the socioeconomic condition of 2018 Connecticut in the context of the unfolding statewide/gubernatorial election season, it has become apparent that our little state has allowed itself–the people/electorate, have allowed it–to drift into very dangerous waters in search of an economic salvation that is both damning and unachievable. Our state is as the Pequod chasing a great white whale of economic salvation.
Now it might be perceived that Dan Malloy is Captain Ahab, and his ill-conceived, unbalanced approach to Connecticut’s economic redemption–with his destructive, economically wasteful, contradictory, Stamford-centric, union-baiting, urban-center-marginalizing policies/initiatives (that have led us to bankruptcy’s door)–was our ill-fated Pequod voyage (think “First Five” and “all roads lead to Stamford,” $30 billion, abortive, transportation initiative). But the fact of the matter is that Dan Malloy was no Captain Ahab. There was little focus or purpose (certainly no consuming obsession) to Dan Malloy’s governorship–other than to maintain Connecticut policy monotony and the destructive socioeconomic-political status quo. Dan was elected by conservative, co-mingled, red + blue (magenta) money for the purpose of maintaining the status quo in not-truly-blue Connecticut, in resonance with the pursuit of the larger purpose (for a promised reward) of promoting the national, “Republicrat” agenda of the Clinton Democratic Party, by way of a “Billary” presidency.
What we are seeing in Connecticut and national politics is the aftermath of that political fiasco, albeit with Connecticut in an unpredictable mode of socioeconomic-political gyration, with suburbs and cities so pitted against each other, with even antagonism and division within those categories in that context, and no clue as to how agreeable, ameliorative policy might be devised and implemented by an inept GA within an essentially leaderless state government. (Indeed, Connecticut’s compass-less political-economic swirl induces larger attention even within a similarly gyrating national condition.)
No. Connecticut’s “Pequod voyage” has not yet actually begun and won’t begin until we elect our real “Captain Ahab” governor in this year’s elections and we begin the journey of socioeconomic-political “redemption” that will either take the Republican form of killing the Great Democratic Populist White Whale attempting to surface or the converse, Democratic form, which will try to kill the Great Republican Fiscal Restraint White Whale. In either case, by present indications, there won’t be much more than political blood and dead ideas floating on the political waters of Connecticut in the coming political term.
Speaking to the aforementioned points is the most notable failure of the Malloy/GA-appointed economic-advisory committee (consisting mostly of corporate representation from the insurance and public utility sectors) to generate viable ideas/implementable measures capable of attenuating our state’s degenerating socioeconomic-political situation and the accompanying, destructive economic uncertainty undermining the health of the state psyche.
The advisory panel’s recommendations circumnavigated any of the indicated, controversial policy areas that are, indeed, glaring and unmistakably responsible for Connecticut’s unique economic dilemma (e.g., affordable housing and urban investment) and instead regurgitated old, unworkable, destructive policy, in the form of increased sales taxes, slashing the income tax, cutting social services, and self-servingly (favoring the wealthy) repeal of the estate and inheritance taxes, as well as the resurrection of highway tolls. Their recommendations consisted almost exclusively of measures that would adversely impact lower income sectors of the population while discouraging statewide business expansion. Most notable in this regard was a failure by the panel to address the main, problematic issues related to all aspects of the state’s economic distress, i.e., outrageously high utility costs and legislative avoidance of the affordable-housing mandates needed to mitigate transportation-infrastructure inadequacy and facilitate tax-base redevelopment in our distressed urban centers.
Returning to the statewide elections and our political Pequod journey: The Connecticut economy is (of course) the major focus of the large (collective) pack of Democrat, Republican and Independent candidates competing for viability in the Connecticut gubernatorial race, and, so far, the individual and collective efforts of the candidates to identify the root causes of Connecticut’s economic undoing, much less a plausible, interrelated, package of remedial measures/initiatives has come up way short.
It would appear, from the drivel (and dearth of even drivel, at that) released thus far by the candidates in regard to statewide, economic revitalization, our ship of state is in for an ill-fated trip out of our “doldrums” toward an ill-fated, storm-tossed voyage into a vengeful battering by our “great white whale” of political discord contrived and deployed by Connecticut’s (largely) Gold Coast political oligarchy toward the purpose of maintaining the status quo.
Indeed, the ideas being kicked around by the candidates thus far, can’t seem to proceed much beyond “develop high-tech training centers for the jobs of the future,” which we have already accomplished and have failed to exploit (forget Infosys–we can’t afford them and they can’t afford us); or “cut taxes and they will come” (no they won’t, unless we approach them in the context of being a great fit as part of a great plan). And of course, all the candidates are going to “fix our transportation system” (so everybody can continue to commute to Stamford?!).
Perhaps we have one candidate with some focus on the core issue defining our state socioeconomic-political dilemma in Candidate Ganim’s “make our cities economic engines to drive the economy of the state” idea. But even here we have to ask, “Where’s the beef?!” Just how are we going to make our cities “economic drivers” without a comprehensive, long-range, industry targeting plan served by supportive policy initiatives (most of which will repulse and infuriate the Oligarchy)?
Candidate Ganim, while on the right track, doesn’t appear to as yet have a handle on a real plan beyond his recognition of the glaringly obvious–but at least he recognizes the obvious and isn’t afraid to articulate it, as would appear to be the case with the other candidates, to varying degrees.
So: By present indications, our next governor will be as Captain Ahab, statedly committed to redeeming (avenging) our present, necrotic socioeconomic-political status (much closer to impossible now than pre-Malloy Connecticut), but constrained by the Connecticut Oligarchy gods in the successful pursuit and triumph over that political-economic Great White Whale… That being said, the Connecticut economy/ship of state would appear, at this time, to be headed for a Pequod voyage where privilege and politics will trump rationality and the common good and will wind up adrift and clinging to a coffin. (Or will our next governor write a sequel to the story with a twist for Connecticut?)
“Thar she blows!”