BINGHAMPTON, NY-- Sports fans can be forgiven for believing that their avocation draws the world’s most intelligent people into its ranks. After all, successful managers in baseball (Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin), football (Bill Belichick, Steve Spurrier) and basketball (Pat Reilly, Mike Krzyzewski) are repeatedly touted in the media as “geniuses.”
However, there’s one place where the collective brainpower of the residents outweighs even that of the locker room: the halls of Congress.
Even the casual observer knows that our lawmakers are the world’s smartest people. Watch any congressional hearing. Lawmakers always know exactly what went wrong. And they know exactly how to fix any problem. In fact, they often act as if there never would have been any problem at all, if only they had they been in charge.
This is, to put it mildly, surprising. When it comes to addressing problems, Congress hardly possesses a perfect record. These are the people who gave us Sarbanes-Oxley, a law that has driven many companies to launch their Initial Public Offering overseas instead of on an American exchange. They also wrote the McCain-Feingold legislation in a misguided attempt to keep money out of politics. And let’s not even get started on the Iraq war, where one of our brightest leaders “voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
Still, they’ll never allow past failures to stand in their way. Lawmakers stand ready to wade into any situation, even those that should be left to the free market.
Consider a recent incident involving Delta Air Lines. The company announced on July 12 that it would discontinue its service from here to New York City. "They're saying, 'Look, we tried it, and it didn't work. We're not going to continue losing this money,'" airline consultant Michael Boyd told Binghamton’s Press & Sun-Bulletin.
Whoa, not so fast, announced Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. He says he quickly dialed the airline’s CEO. “I stressed the need for them to give air service in Binghamton adequate time to grow and prosper,” Schumer announced.
Of course, the senator’s interest is understandable on one level. He represents the people of Binghamton, and he wants them to think he’s doing everything possible to further their interests. But the bottom line here is, well, the bottom line. Delta has to decide what’s in its best financial interest. It simply can’t afford to lose money to appease a vocal senator.
Air travel is just the tip of the interventionist iceberg, though. There’s a bigger issue on the horizon, one that lawmakers are even more eager to meddle in: health care.