Be a Solon

To: Dean Barkley
Senator Norm Coleman
Al Franken

In a state with as many well-educated people as Minnesota has, it ought to be possible to address the real issues facing us.

One of those issues is certainly not the “juicy porn” authored by Al Franken in the infamous 2000 Playboy article. While I am cheered to discover that Republican operatives keep stashes of Playboy back issues—and that they appreciate the magazine for its articles and not its pictures—this is just not a serious issue. One could argue that the article isn’t funny, and because Franken is unsuccessful as a stand-up comedian, he can’t successfully stand up for Minnesota. But I gather that is not the argument the GOP is making.

By the same token, none of us find enlightenment on real issues of concern in learning that Senator Coleman lives in an expensive townhouse (or its basement), which in turn is owned by a campaign supporter, who in turn has “ties” to special interest lobbyists.

Our six-week and accidental former senator, Dean Barkley, has so far been silent on these important issues of Playboy and basement dwelling.

Minnesotans really don’t resemble bowlers, as New York ad agency staff may believe, nor do we frequently walk around with missing front teeth caused by flying hockey pucks. Mercifully, you have all managed to avoid ostentatiously praying in public or claiming to hear the voice of God. (Apparently, that’s a task left to congresswomen). But you’ve also avoided showing the qualities of a “wise and skillful lawgiver”—the solon that we need.

It may have escaped your notice, but the federal government’s operating deficit exceeds $460 billion. Of course, that number is inaccurate because both parties routinely “forget” to add the $180 billion that is taken each year from the Social Security trust account. Nor have I heard you discuss the $700 billion current account deficit which, using Playboy math, means the country runs an actual current operating deficit in excess of $1.3 trillion. Anyone have a plan to solve this problem?

While all of you were getting nominated, the federal government nationalized 48 percent of our housing stock (through the explicit government guarantee for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and the secretary of the treasury bought a large merchant bank (Bear Stearns) with taxpayer money and sold it at a discount to one of his buddies (J. P. Morgan). Any of you guys notice that?

Five trillion dollars have been added to the national debt in the past seven years, not counting the obligations incurred for various housing bailouts: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and all of the treasury’s associated “open window” securities swaps. These easily run into the trillions of dollars.

The real answer, of course, is to control spending. Has any of you ever suggested a substantive reduction in spending?

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