The Cost of Being Politically Incorrect, and Signs for the Time

The Cost of Being Politically Incorrect

One word that every student in Minnesota should be required to learn is boondoggle. Because that's exactly what Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposal to re-christen the Department of Children, Families, and Learning the Department of Education will turn out to be.

The idea was first floated last month, when Pawlenty introduced the state's new education commissioner, Cheri Pierson Yecke. The proposed name change was immediately hailed as a mighty blow to the politically correct forces that have supposedly infiltrated the public school system. "Pawlenty is so blessedly on the right track with the choice of Yecke that he even wants to abolish the name of the agency she will lead, the Department of Children, Families and Learning," St. Paul Pioneer Press crank Joe Soucheray gushed. "Some of us have added the words 'Happy Thoughts' to the title over the years."

What no one has bothered to mention is that changing the name of a state agency comes with a price. Consider a 2000 study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA was considering a name change because it didn't feel that the current moniker accurately reflected the breadth of its activities. After flirting with new names such as the Department of Environmental Quality, however, the proposal was dropped because of fiscal concerns. The MPCA determined that it would cost between $280,000 and $375,000 simply to alter the agency name on road signs, stationery, business cards, and other items. It also concluded that an additional $75,000 to $100,000 would be needed to formulate a "communications plan" in order to make people aware of the new moniker.

"We are not pushing a name change, for the same reasons that we cited a few years ago," says Ralph Heussner, communications director at the MPCA. "And probably the money issue is even more significant now that we're facing a budget crisis."

The cost of a name change at Children, Families and Learning would undoubtedly be even greater. That's because the department is considerably larger than the MPCA. In the current biennium, $56.6 million is allocated for the education agency; the MPCA will get $34.1 million.

So all together, boys and girls: B-O-O-N-D-O-G-G-L-E. --Paul Demko


Signs for the Time

These words and phrases, inspired by equal parts concern, consternation, and comedic genius, could be seen on placards carried by the tens of thousands of peace activists that marched on Washington, D.C., and San Francisco on January 18. Our thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair, editor of the politically charged CounterPunch (, who sent the best of the best to patrons of his site's newsletter.

These colors don't run the world...One nation under surveillance...How did our oil get under their sand?...Go Solar, not Ballistic...Who would Jesus bomb?...Start Drafting SUV Drivers Now...Don't blame me, I voted with the majority...Buck Fush!...It's NUCLEAR, not NUCULAR, you idiot!...Patriots are idiots - Matriarchy Now!...Resistance is Fertile...Say can you see my democracy?...It's the oil, stupid...War is expensive, Peace is priceless...Read between the Pipelines...No More Bush...Smart weapons, Dumb president...The only thing we have to fear is Bush himself...How many Lives per Gallon?...Peace Takes Brains...Anything War can do, Peace can do better...Negotiation Not Annihilation...Make touchdowns, not war - Go Raiders!...Another patriot for peace...Oh, Say, can You Cease?...Star Spangled Bummer...Don't Arm a Son of a Bush...Don't do it, George, Dad will still love you...Power to the Peaceful...The last time we listened to a Bush, we wandered in the desert for 40 years.

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