Saturday, September 02, 2006

"A Funny Thing Happened . . .

. . . on the way to this forum."

Early this morning, on little sleep and lots of coffee, I was sufficiently giddy after reading the Press-Citizen's latest revelations about TIFs, to put up an entry regarding my application for a TIF for my tool shed. [Nicholas Johnson, "TIF-ing My Toolshed," September 2, 2006.]

But that's not "the funny thing" to which I refer; at least I'll leave the success of that humor to the judgment of others.

Only later in the morning did I get around to checking State29, where I found a link to my Nicholas Johnson, "It's Getting Harder to be a Democrat," September 1, 2006, entry from last evening. State29 makes the point that "party affiliation will matter less and less into the future as people network and realize that on some issues we have common ground." State 29, "Nicholas Johnson Isn't Abandoning the Democratic Party," September 1, 2006.

I couldn't agree more.

But the funny thing was that I already had. For the very next entry I read, State 29, "High Rise Corporate Welfare," September 1, 2006 -- written before my "TIF-ing My Tool Shed," but read by me after writing it -- dramatically made State29's point.

We had both, inadvertantly, started at the same place, and ultimately came to the same conclusions -- independently -- with regard to TIFs for the Hieronymus Square project.

In short, we had, unwittingly, proved State29's thesis.

My experience, in Washington and since, is that the most meaningful divisions are not between "liberals" and "conservatives" -- or Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. They are between (a) those who see problems and seek solutions, and find data and "best practices" relevant to policy formulation and administration, on the one hand (and are willing to change their minds when the data dictates they do so), and (b) those who don't see problems, don't care to think about them if they do, can ignore data, are seldom willing to change a position, and are content to repeat like a mantra the rhetoric and talking points of their ideology or partisanship.

This is neither to say that "agreement" should always be our most highly prized goal, nor that it is always possible. It is simply to say that State29 is right, and that when folks are able and willing to focus on solution strategies and talk with each other (rather than shout) they are likely to discover, as President Bill Clinton used to say, that "we have more problems than we deserve, and more solutions than we've ever tried."

And, the next time the disagreements involve folks willing to blow us up, an extra $200,000 for more negotiation might be an alternative worthwhile testing before launching another $2 trillion-dollar war.

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