Sunday, May 28, 2006

Talking to the shadows


Last week, I alluded to persistent rumors of a Hopewell shadow government. I trust the veracity of these tales, especially in a rumor-happy town like The Wonder City, about as much as I trust pop gossip fantasies that dead rock stars are alive, well and partying hard in Brazil.

Still, it is a rumor that's not going away any time soon, so let's deconstruct this puppy and see what we're left with.

Just for the pungent good fun of it, let's assume the rumors are true. Let us suppose a bunch of very successful business types want things in their city to go their way whenever possible. Let us further stipulate that they are willing to deploy their influence when and where they deem it necessary.

Our problem with that would be … ?

Excuse me for not marching in lockstep with conventional wisdom, but I'm one of those punk neo-Capitalists who believes businesspeople are, on average, more realistic and far more optimistic that the rest of us. So the way I see it, if persons who have a demonstrated aptitude for selling people things they need at prices they can afford - in a competitive marketplace mind you - want to assert themselves, their wealth, judgment and vision upon the body politic, what kind of pernicious twit would I be to object?

These avatars of Capitalism meet payroll every week. They provide the necessities of corporeal existence to fellow human beings. They actually get stuff done. Without their hard, smart work, we'd all be less well off.

By way of contrast, consider my chosen career path.

I scribble stories and features on the acts and opinions of others, busting loose once a week to run all that grist through my own peculiar sensibilities and spit out this column.

Do I feed anybody? Do I put roofs over their heads, clothe their nakedness or succor their children? I do not. I also keep no one employed but myself, meet no payrolls and generate pathetically small annual tax revenues.

These are important distinctions. By any reasonable standard, I'm far less connected to the Real World than are these alleged shadow government folk.

So the problem is not with attempts to influence the future of Hopewell. If the tales are true, all I can say is thank heaven some clever persons of wealth and taste are willing to do it.

The problem is the sneakiness.

Virtuous actions taken in the daylight are seldom reviled. Those done anonymously via clumsy, easily detected machinations nearly always are.

So let's get a little daylight on this deal. One supposed member of the alleged shadow government has already opened the conduit. He has presented me with solid, persuasive justifications for his very public record of successfully attempting to affect Hopewell's future.

I invite the remaining Hopewell Shadow Government Ministers without Portfolio to ring me up and unburden yourselves.

It would have to be a deeply satisfying experience for you. It would assist me in telling the "real truth about Hopewell" to my readers.

There is no downside to this proposition.

Gentlemen (and ladies, if there are such), please feel free to download, on this aging, ink-stained wretch, a few of your hopes, fears, frustrations and triumphs. Commiserate with me on the subject of how suspicious minds can slander the authors of good and righteous plans.

But mostly, explain to me how your future Hopewell stands in contrast to the one we had chugging along Monday, May 1. You'll get a sympathetic hearing. No one has a monopoly on wisdom in this or any other town.


One final note. There were no "discrepancies" in any of the publicly available campaign finance information I accessed. I did, in a pre-election story about campaign finance records, state that there were wide disparities in how much was raised and spent by the nine candidates, but as any English teacher will be happy to tell you, "discrepancies" and "disparities" are two different words with two different meanings.

Okay, this dumb-ass rumor is all bloody and battered, but still twitching. The coup de grace is incumbent upon whoever has been bruiting about talk of "discrepancies."

Thank you.

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