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Monday, October 24, 2005

Pet peeve: catch-22

Posted by: Hammer / 8:14 AM

A refresher:

Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and he had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

I think Heller's novel is a classic moment of literary genius, the pinnacle of which is the definition of the Catch-22. It is among the finest American novels ever written. So it bothers me to no end when people use the word wrong. Friday's Strib:

A proposed federal bill that contains the promise of up to $600 million a year in new affordable-housing funds also may include a classic Catch-22 for the state's nonprofit housing advocates and the more than 15,000 Minnesotans waiting for help with low-income housing.

...The catch?

The same nonprofits that provide the bulk of very-low-income housing services could be cut out of the grants because they also provide voter registration services, as they are required to do under federal law.

Since passage of the National Voter Registration Act in 1993, nonprofits across the United States have been required to provide voter registration services to receive housing and other social service money from the states.

This is bad policy and vengeance politics. This is not a Catch-22. Under program A, nonprofits must provide voter registration services to receive federal housing funds. Under program B, entities that provide voter registration services are not eligible to receive federal housing funds. The story suggests why that might be:

Linda Couch, deputy director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the bill already has language that would prohibit groups from using the funds for anything but housing.

"This all makes us wonder if this isn't just an attempt to steer the money toward the for-profits," Couch said.

Couch is half right. The point of the program (which John Kline and Gil Gutknecht support) is to funnel funds to potential donors (real estate developers) and to punish political opponents (low income housing advocates). It's a dumb idea consistent with a core Republican virtue: crony capitalism. But it's not a Catch-22.


That's some catch that Catch 22.

By Anonymous monostereo, at 10:10 AM  

It's the best there is.

By Blogger Hammer, at 10:21 AM  

I must have read this book a couple times in high school. If you add in that and the time I spent rereading LOTR...well, I guess that explains why I never got much action in high school

By Anonymous Jerjo of Adderall, at 1:54 PM  

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