Old laws in need of new analysis
November 26, 2011
During a period of deep reflection and painstaking research, which basically involved sitting in an easy chair and playing computer poker while grasping for a column idea, I had an epiphany.
It is this. I have a lot of things to be thankful for this season, but none more reassuring than the news my epistemic closure seems to be under control. Dr. Dimotta assures me things should be flowing normally in just a few weeks or so.
No, wait. That’s another condition altogether. “Epistemic closure” (well…I’m telling YOU?) is a fancy way of saying people get all their information and opinions exclusively from one source. That’s the description offered by a New York Times writer who infected me with the notion of this new epidemic.
There is a theme song for EC. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, stuck in the middle with you.” They were humming it outside the hearing room of the super committee entrusted with developing a compromise to solve our budget woes.
If you will take your seats, class, we will flesh out this business of “epistemic closure.” Issue: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez wants to repeal the constitutional provision that says the lieutenant governor must automatically take control of the state when the governor leaves its boundaries. So how does epistemic closure play its ugly hand in a case like this?
Read only the left wing clowns and you will learn that Gov. Martinez is a power-hungry, my-way-or-the-highway shrew who doesn’t much like Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and can’t abide the thought of his presiding when she goes to visit her folks in El Paso.
Read only the right wing jokers and you will learn this is an archaic rule that made sense when “tweet” referred to birds chirping in springtime. It is just plain silly for the governor to relinquish control in these days of instant communication. It has nothing to do with protecting her turf, they will tell you.
If you rely on either information source to the exclusion of the other you are guilty of epistemic closure. So where does a responsible citizen turn for enlightenment? For starters, you might turn to me. I am fair and balanced and certainly smart. I’m not smart? Oh, yeah? Anyone who understood epistemic closure before I explained it, please raise your hands. You three are lying.
Here is the non-epistemic closure conclusion: Gov. Susana Martinez seems stubbornly enamored of her own views and she may not be politically comfortable with her lieutenant governor. But she is right. The constitutional mandate that someone be empowered to take control of New Mexico when the governor leaves its borders is, indeed, archaic.
Governors can be on top of what’s going on in their states 24/7, no matter where they are. They can text a decision in three seconds. And, look, if things are so hot citizen welfare is threatened, whether man-made contretemps or natural disaster, get your butt back here and take care of business. That’s why we elected you.
Actually, the gee whiz technology that transformed society could work both ways. Citizens should be able to keep track of their elected officials at all times. Wouldn’t it have been fun to plant a GPS locator in Bill Richardson’s coat pocket?
Laws that have their roots in eras long past need to be analyzed in a new light. For instance, the idea county seats must be located only in communities located on a railroad line once made sense. But when’s the last time you took a train ride to pay your taxes? I think that is a New Mexico law. It isn’t? Maybe I am not so smart after all.