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Jared Polis, in context, warns businesses against getting too close to government


[Update: At about 6:50 of THIS VIDEO CLIP, economist Arthur Laffer praises Jared Polis’ remarks made in the House of Representatives.]

[Update 2: Conservative anti-tax stalwart Tom McClintock (R-CA) made the following statement about HR1586: “I reluctantly supported HR 1586 for a simple and singular reason: it will stop or slow the corporate bailouts that are bankrupting our country."]

Yesterday I heard a newscast playing a recording of Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO, representing the district I live in) saying “We will hunt down your executives with pitchforks, we will subpoena your boards and haul you before Congress…”

I know Jared Polis a little bit and I am well aware of his success in the private sector (something far too members of Congress have accomplished). So, despite his being a liberal Democrat, I simply couldn’t imagine him meaning what he appeared to be saying in that obviously carefully-edited-by-a-news-department quote.

Listening carefully, it seemed to me that Congressman Polis’ words were tinged with irony, or some such characteristic that made me think he was actually making fun of statements like that and opposing the sort of Congressional behavior we’ve seen in the past few days.

I sent Congressman Polis an e-mail saying just that. And I’m glad I did, because he responded with the full text of his remarks which show that the quote I heard on the radio turns Polis’ intent on its head: He was making a strong argument against the nationalization of businesses and against business running to government for “help".

As you’ll read in a moment, the intent of the Congressman’s words could have been made much clearer had the audio editor simply included the short sentence immediately preceding the quote they played. In fact, I called the radio’s news department and suggested they do just that. (I don’t know whether they did so.)

The entirety of Congressman Polis’ text is worth reading…and applauding. And that’s not something I’ve said about a Democrat’s comments on the intersection of business and politics in quite a long time.

In particular, I ask you to note the 4th paragraph of the text, beginning with “Businesses beware:” and see how the news reporters leaving out that introductory sentence essentially reversed the true meaning of Polis’ words. (I’ve emphasized the sentence to make sure you don’t miss it.)

And Polis’ closing sentence is one that should be repeated from every street corner (at least in downtown business districts near companies that may be considering getting too cozy with government.)


Remarks of Congressman Jared Polis before the House of Representatives, Tuesday March 19th 2008

The power to tax is the power to destroy. Today I rise in support of HB 1586 and destroying the creeping socialism imposed on by the Bush administration before it takes over our entire economy. Executives and boards of private companies must know that to call in the federal cavalry means that you will be run out of town.

I am reminded of Emperor Alexius I of Byzantium, who called forth the Christian kings of western Europe to help him hold off the Turks at his gates. Help us, he said, prevent the heathens from taking the holy land.

The Christian kings of the west responded in force. At first the crusades served Alexius’s goals, there were some initial “bonuses” such as the taking of Antioch and Jerusalem. But with time many crusaders saw a richer and easier target in Constantnople itself and soon the very forces that Alexius called forth looted his own capital and hastened the demise of the Byzantine empire.

Businesses beware: You do not want the federal government or the American people owning your business. We will hunt down your executives with pitchforks, we will subpoena your boards and haul you before Congress, we will use personal rhetoric to decry your greed, we will make like so miserable that you will leave. And no, our cruelty will not be reserved for your executives. Your workers will be bureaucratized, your competent managers squeezed out, your travel and conferences canceled, your work hours extended, your incentive structure turned upside down. I dare say that with a different party in the white house and congress, as unfortunately happens from time to time, your union will be busted and your jobs lost.

I will be supporting this bill, and hope that it serves as a siren call to executives, shareholders, and workers to oppose nationalization of your companies. My voting for this bill today, Mr. Speaker, we are demonstrating that there is a fate worse than death, and that this is it.

And if your business might be “too big to fail” then by all means, please spin-off divisions and downsize because “too big to fail” means that you will end up in this eternal purgatory of misery, blame and scapegoating.

Let your companies die quietly, silently, and call forth not the mighty crusaders from Washington DC lest we loot and pillage your company as the Christian crusader innocently called forth by Alexius I went on to loot the center of eastern Christiandom itself.

Pillage not our public troughs lest ye be pillaged.