Talking Trash (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 12:00 am  

We don't know what goes on behind closed office doors, but it seems to take quite a lot to raise the hackles of Gov. Mike Beebe. And a political ad paid for by the conservative Americans for Prosperity organization has done just that.

The ad doesn't mention Beebe's name, nor does it promote any particular candidate. It is, in the word used by AFP's state director, Teresa Oelke, "aspirational" - suggesting ways that (in the particular viewpoint of this particular organization) Arkansas could be better.

"As the cost of everyday living becomes too much, many are leaving our state to seek greater opportunity elsewhere," the announcer intones, suggesting, perhaps, that the rest of us are chumps for staying.

Since the ad complains about Arkansas' "ever-growing burden of government debt and the taxes needed to support it," the architect of repeated cuts in the sales tax on groceries who steered Arkansas through the Great Recession without an operating deficit took personal offense. More than that, he told a business audience at the Arkansas Governor's Quality Award event, "When they trash Arkansas, they're trashing you."

Our state, blessedly, hasn't been inundated with political advertising this year, and we like to think that most viewers have learned to take all political ads with a very large grain of salt. The most unfortunate thing about this particular ad buy is that it comes at the very moment that many Arkansans are slogging through a deep depression brought on by the disappointing - embarrassing, even - performance of the thing they love most about our state: the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Arkansas has deep and intractable problems, economic and cultural. But the pervasive idea that every other part of the country has things as good or better is simply not true. (Except maybe in football.) Americans for Prosperity's doomsaying notwithstanding, Arkansas is still a land of opportunity.



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