‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is something children often argue with their parents about. It does not seem fair to kids when they witness a double standard at play. Voters are the same when it comes to politicians who prattle on about a topic, then act just the opposite of what they publicly proclaim as the path all should take.
Such is the case of businessman Ron Johnson who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. The conservative candidate takes every opportunity to discredit the idea of the federal government using stimulus funds to jump-start the economy, or stating how the use of government monies interfere with the free market. As such, many are now taking note that Johnson tapped into government programs for his own business purposes.
News reports show that in the 1980’s his company, Pacur, received $4 million in special low-interest government loans. The funds assisted in the purchase of equipment and plant expansion.
Right off the top let me say I have no problem with the federal or state government using programs to assist businesses such as the one Johnson was creating. In fact, I think assistance of this type is exactly what government programs should be doing in a strenuous effort to create more jobs with higher wages and benefits.
What bothers me is the double standard that Johnson now applies to others who need help from the government for a variety of needs which they find themselves. While it is nice to have the ability to think abstractly about the role of government for the purpose of an election, the truth is that there are times when we all need government to assist us.
Ron Johnson is proof of that.
Ron Johnson benefited from a government program. Someone needs to tell Johnson there is no shame in admitting it, and knowing it is OK. Because of the funds he received a rail spur was added to his plastics company, and more jobs could be created, and more families could purchase more products in the larger economy, and that created still more jobs.
That is one example of how government funding helps people.
While Johnson will make a claim that his financial matter was somehow different from others I have to strongly disagree. It is only different in the eyes of the beholder. The money he obtained from the government allowed him to benefit financially, and do things that he otherwise might not have been able to accomplish.
It may seem like good Republican politics to try and limit others from being helped by the government when the need arises, such as the case with Johnson’s opposition to extending unemployment compensation. But I suspect that most will look at this whole matter and think back to childhood and recall the lessons about ‘do as I say, not as I do’.
We now know who paid for Ron Johnson’s train tracks. We just have not yet figured out how Johnson’s thinking about the role of government got derailed.