It seems like only yesterday Governor Pawlenty was praising escalators. Actually, it was November 9th.
The purpose of this week is to increase public awareness throughout the state and promote the proper use of elevators, escalators, and moving walkways; and
The goal of this week is to reduce avoidable accidents through education and awareness
Yesterday, however, he declared the future spending projections in the state's budget forecast were “an out-of-control spending escalator that must be shut off.”
Now, during Elevator-Escalator Safety Awareness Week, the governor should have become a bit more educated about escalators. They don't just keep going up forever, for example; they move a short, specified distance so people can reach a high-traffic destination. Unlike elevators, they move continuously, transporting more people faster, because passengers don't have to wait for an elevator to go up and come back down.
It's possible to shut down an escalator, of course, but it's all or nothing. Shut it off, and it becomes a stairway. Everybody's walking — old and infirm, kids, the heavily loaded, people in a hurry, the lazy and the fit.
When an escalator stops on its own, people notice. They don't say, "great, I can get some exercise!" or "I'd rather take an elevator, anyway." They want someone to fix it.
The governor's budget metaphor used to be "autopilot."
Pawlenty's autopilot metaphor is off when he applies it to the budget. First, autopilots provide accurate position information, just as the State Finance Department is supposed to do for the governor and legislators. But an autopilot can only fly the plane if the pilot hands over that responsibility. If the plane crashes, the pilot dies. The autopilot doesn't care.
Pawlenty is right when he says government can't continue to operate in an automatic mode when it faces unpredictable and dangerous conditions. There's really no disagreement on the principle, but the crew members have different ideas about what to do and how to pay for it. If the argument doesn't ever get resolved wisely, a crash could be in Minnesota's future.
Even if I disagree on the specifics, an escalator may be a better descriptor of the budget under Gov. Pawlenty. We're on the same track, running in a circle, with a leader whose vision fits very well with the "short range vertical transportation industry."
The purpose of this week is to increase public awareness throughout the state
and promote the proper use of elevators, escalators, and moving walkways; and
The goal of this week is to reduce avoidable accidents through education and