Kansas GOP gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback is proposing an “Office of the Repealer,” tasked with seeking out bad or repetitive laws, wasteful programs, and archaic state agencies for elimination. As a general rule, the media venerates politicians who propose new government programs as bold and visionary, while anyone daring to suggest perhaps there might be cause to eliminate an agency or two is depicted as some fringe draconian nut. Or just quaint and silly.
True to form, New York Times reporter Monica Davey makes little attempt to hide her bemusement at Brownback’s idea, dismissing its positive reception among Kansas voters as “one more sign, perhaps, of the wave of grumpiness” sweeping the country. Not prudence or good governance or fiscal responsibility. Grumpiness.
I suppose we could just cast this off as one more example of silly Kansans being too stupid to know what’s good for them. But hold on. Davey also reports that—clutch the pearls!—the sentiment may not be limited to the Sunflower State:
In Missouri, lawmakers passed legislation this spring that repealed more than 200 sections of statutes, including some dusty ones pertaining to the regulation of steamboats, steam engines, pool halls and margarine. In Michigan, lawmakers did likewise, agreeing, for instance, to repeal statutes that had designated as crimes prizefighting and dueling.
God forbid we repeal laws regulating the operation of steam engines. Why, it would be like living in Somalia.