Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.

Our recent column about forming California’s Citizen Redistricting Commission continues to bring responses from folks rejected by the selection panel.

The latest said, “I went to the website and checked out how the selections were going. It … became very obvious that any citizens who were just ordinary citizens (presumably those like myself who were just interested in having competitive districts and no safe districts) were being eliminated … with genocidal efficiency.

“Those who were making the cut … were universally political hacks (ex-mayors, city council members and others … already in the pockets of the political establishment) …

“The pols … had taken a back door to ‘stacking’ the process … having real citizens eliminated and political hacks ushered in as ‘… far more qualified.'”

Piqued by this missive, we went to the latest list of applicants who made the cut and did a completely random sampling of 10 who were advanced for further consideration. The sample, it turned out, included:

a city attorney,
a school-board member,

a human-relations commission director,
a general-plan advisory committee member,
a special assistant (to a public university president) for equity and diversity,

a California community-colleges trustee,
a former California legislative intern and member of a law firm’s diversity committee,

a public-safety commissioner,

a federal employee who was a locally elected official serving “on numerous boards, commissions and committees”,
a director of a census information center who found it relevant to announce he had come out as “gay.”

We’d bet there isn’t a truly private citizen in the lot.

Sponsors of the ballot initiative that took redistricting out of the hands of a corrupt Legislature had the right idea. What they didn’t reckon with was that by turning over the selection of commissioners to the California state auditor, they were relinquishing the task to bureaucrats predisposed to revere other government officials.

These they deemed “more qualified,” a term for which you may substitute “establishment,” and for that term you may substitute the modifier “safe.” Those selected are not boat-rockers or questioners. They will not be smarter or more able than applicants who don’t have public-service titles after their names, but they are more desirable to the establishment – the bureaucrats – because they are less likely to question and probe.

Those continuing in the process likely have bought into the public-service ethos that says one almost always must do what bureaucratic staff – city managers, planning directors, school superintendents – recommends.

They will do what the auditor’s staff recommends, with an obsequious and unquestioning bow to diversity, though none could tell you with any cogency why diversity should trump merit or economics.

One group must be most pleased with the way the process is going, and members of that group are laughing up their sleeves. It’s the group that most feared the citizens’ commission initiative. It’s the Legislature.

Think of all the print advertising and radio and television commercials promoting health. They are sponsored by a variety of state and federal agencies – and the Advertising Council, of course.

They tell you how to parent, not to be fat, to quit smoking, to avoid AIDS and to have your kids vaccinated against the human papillomavirus. Their writers feel constrained to tell you that heart disease and diabetes are bad things and that you should get help if you feel depressed.

For the most part, they’re annoyingly paternalistic, but if they annoy you now, just wait until they aren’t advising but commanding.

Watch for recommendations from the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council – created by a June 10 Barack Obama executive order – eventually to become law. After all, it will be argued, under socialized medicine poor health is costly to the nation, so control over your body logically must pass to the federal government.

The council will “provide recommendations to the president and the Congress concerning the most pressing health issues confronting the United States and changes in federal policy to achieve national wellness, health promotion and public-health goals, including the reduction of tobacco use, sedentary behavior and poor nutrition.”

If you think it can’t happen in the United States, remember that the costs of head injuries led to California’s law requiring motorcycle helmets. If that law was logical, why not laws requiring other healthful behaviors (Congress and the executive exempt, of course)?

You sedentary readers: Up for calisthenics! Now!

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