Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Analyzing Government-Issued Press Releases: Indiana Attorney General

HARBESON: Columnist goes FIsHing for an explanation

My son-in-law thinks I over-analyze everything and he’s probably right. I’m trying to stop but I just can’t seem to do it, especially when a government official issues a press release. I guess I always over-analyze these releases because they never make much sense to me.

The most recent press release I analyzed — or over-analyzed if you ask my son-in law — came from the office of Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller. The purpose of this press release was to challenge corporations to donate to an organization called Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, or FIsH.

I admit I’ve always been confused about the exact purpose and duties of this government job but I’m pretty sure the attorney general position wasn’t created to solicit donations for one specific charity over any other. However, just to make sure, I analyzed the Indiana Code but I found nothing referring to such activities.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Mr. Zoeller is so concerned about feeding the hungry, but I just don’t understand what it has to do with his government-funded job. I decided to analyze what he said in his press release in the hope that it might help clarify this for me.

The press release said that Attorney General Zoeller is “extremely proud” of the elected officials who voted to provide $300,000 for FIsH. He also specifically thanked State Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, chairman of the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, and State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee for their “generosity and foresight.”

He’s extremely proud of their generosity? What generosity? All these men did was determine where a chunk of funds coerced from other people were going to end up. Generosity has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Then I read this, “In light of what’s already being provided by the public sector, I think it’s appropriate for us to ask the private sector to donate to FIsH and match that amount.”

What in the world is he talking about? He talks as if the money from the public sector had nothing to do with the private sector, but this money those politicians so “generously” appropriated is money they took from the private sector. No amount of over-analysis could ever twist any logic out of that statement.

Of course, these government officials are part of a system that took plenty of money not only from the private businesses but directly from the mouths of the hungry they claim they care so much about, so I guess it does make some sense to send a few crumbs back.

But wouldn’t it be better if they just got out of the way so private companies can actually hire these hungry people rather than instilling guilt that they aren’t doing enough already?

Another interesting comment from our esteemed attorney general acknowledges “that many companies are struggling to meet monthly expenses and make payroll, but I’m going to ask business people to dig a little deeper into their budgets — if they can — and donate to FIsH.”

My over-analytical self noticed that he didn’t mention the companies’ struggle to pay their taxes, money which apparently needs to be paid so that the attorney general can run around Indiana and talk about how private business needs to do more to help people.

If Greg Zoeller really wants to help the hungry as part of his government job, then I suggest he look into all those great government programs and services that were supposedly set up to take care of people in such situations. Analyze that, Mr. Attorney General, and you might actually accomplish something.

Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson thinks her son-in-law might be over-analyzing her propensity to over-analyze, but needs to think more about it to be sure.

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