A unique definition of dysfunction

The N&O opines today that the Wake County Board of Commissioners is “dysfunctional.” That is a strong charge; what, oh what, is the matter?

It’s the Republicans, see. They have these “hidebound” views like resisting higher taxes and spending and, worse, rail transit. And that despite the presence of Betty Lou Ward, “the good Democrat”; Caroline Sullivan, who is “quick-witted, articulate and an effective opponent,” and James West, who “generally aligns himself” with the good Democrat (one supposes West needed to ingratiate himself a little more with the N&O to merit a better mention).

But sheesh, the Republicans!

[Phil] Matthews, [Paul] Coble, [Joe] Bryan and [Tony] Gurley continue to have all the foresight of Mr. Magoo. They seem to believe that because there’s not enough population density in the Triangle to make mass transit options profitable from Day One, it’s not worth investing in a transit tax for the county. Orange and Durham counties have already approved new taxes to support public transit. It is a disservice to Wake County residents that these Republicans decline to allow the people even to vote on a tax that could really get regional rail going.

Oh, that is rich. The N&O is now trying to pretend as if Wake County hasn’t heard from at least six different transit experts across the political spectrum who all agreed that Wake County isn’t dense enough to support rail transit and that it would therefore be highly irresponsible to raise taxes and waste public resources on such folly.

I wrote last fall about the N&O’s pro-rail arguments, which “included an appeal to peer pressure — everybody [Durham and Orange] is doing it! — and attacking Coble and other commissioners.” Those are still in use.

The N&O’s other pro-rail arguments were two different approaches to the very thorny problem of expert consensus against it here. So as I explained, they tried recasting the consensus as “the same tired reason” for opposing rail, and then they granted it to argue that it was an argument ignored by other cities.

With the passage of time, they are now trying a new approach to expert consensus: reductio ad abstinentis. That is, ignoring it. Pretending it never existed.

How it works: if Wake County commissioners are in fact heeding expert consensus by not raising taxes and blowing resources on a scheme that’s doomed to fail, then they are being responsible servants of the community. They are doing their job. They are being … functional.

But if they are just opposing rail transit for no reason, well, that’s just mean and they’re being beastly, and we submit to you that that is dysfunctional!

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