Ah, the “special interest.”Â It’s every politician’s favorite bogeyman.Â So convenient as a target for political diatribe–not least of all because it’s so vague.Â After all, what is a “special interest” really?Â When it comes right down to it, it’s a group with political currency that you don’t particularly care for.Â After all, the ones you like are “legitimate and necessary issues or expenditures.”
Witness Rep. Oshiro’s recent opinion article in the Advertiser (on April 20th, 2010).Â In it, Rep. Oshiro talks about the difficulties of the budget process and blames special interests for the “hard decisions” that are part of that process, especially when so many of those aforementioned special interests benefit from tax credits or tax exemptions.Â Not to be insensitive or anything, but it’s not like there’s all that much to being a legislator.Â (Believe me, anyone who has watched C-SPAN for more than 10 minutes and retained consciousness throughout would agree.)Â So pardon me for not being overcome with sympathy over the difficulties of occasionally having to make a hard budgetary decision.Â We regular folks do that every day.Â It’s called, “trying to get by.”Â Only when we mess up, we don’t get to make exculpatory speeches about it.Â Instead, we get our electricity disconnected or the car repossessed.Â So yeah, we elected you all to make the hard decisions.Â Make them.
But that’s not actually the worst part.Â After all, “special interests” are just the ones you feel don’t deserve any financial help or breaks.Â So some politicians would call businesses that get incentives to stay in Hawaii and employ people “special interests.”Â Others would say that political groups or specific classes of citizens (including those that get a lot of government funding) are special interests.Â And some might point out that the legislature gave itself a raise, making it one of the special-est interests of all.
What would be nice (other than being able to vote myself a raise–what a great gig that is) is if our representatives stopped trying to manipulate us with their have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too talk about special interests and instead were more honest about where our money was going.Â Because I may not be that special, but that’s where my interest really is.