Let no one accuse Connecticut's Democratic Party of not having any principles. The party seems to be operating on a principle of state Senate President Martin Looney. The Looney Principle is simply: What's yours is mine.
The Looney Principle is on display more than ever now with his legislation to tax large private college endowments, the threshold set so that only Yale University's endowment, nearly $26 billion, would be subject to taxation. Looney and other supporters of the legislation say it would prod Yale to invest more in ways beneficial to New Haven, as if Yale doesn't have a right to spend its own money in its own interests.
But the core constituencies of Connecticut's Democratic Party, the government and welfare classes, are growing anxious as their parasitism and mistaken policy premises keep driving the state down and tax revenue with it, and they see Yale's endowment as ripe for plunder. After Yale's endowment is taxed, maybe private endowments and savings will be next.
For Connecticut must not ever tell its government employees that they no longer can take Columbus Day off with pay, nor its welfare recipients that they should stop thrusting on state government the support of children they never were in a position to support themselves.
Despite the assertion that Yale should do more for New Haven, Yale already does a lot for the city, voluntarily paying the city millions of dollars each year out of guilt for being tax-exempt like other colleges and nonprofit civic organizations. Indeed, without Yale and its thousands of middle-class employees and its students bringing a lot of money into the city from all over the country and the world, New Haven, impoverished as much of it is, would be Bridgeport, whose miles of crumbling industrial hulks along the Northeast Corridor railroad tracks give rail passengers the impression that a nuclear war broke out shortly after they left New York.
Actually what broke out was the Looney Principle.
Yale officials have responded indignantly to it, but the endowment-tax legislation is just what the university deserves for long having subsidized the parasitism that is now turning on it. No college in the country has been more politically correct than Yale. From nullification of federal immigration law to nullification of free speech to the coddling of the fascist impulse of its students demanding "safe spaces" against disagreement, Yale has supported many of the movements that are wrecking the country.
So if the endowment tax gives Yale ideas like those recently entertained by General Electric as it considered Connecticut's future, saw ahead only decades of tax increases, and began packing up in Fairfield to depart for Boston, at least Connecticut would be rid of a bad influence and New Haven's government and welfare classes would have to turn their parasitism on each other.
As for the state's premier purportedly public institution of higher education, the University of Connecticut, it again has defeated demands for greater accountability for its own endowment, managed by the UConn Foundation, which has enjoyed exemption from state freedom-of-information law.
Instead of subjecting the UConn Foundation to that law as all other public agencies are subjected, state legislators have agreed to require only that the foundation submit an annual report summarizing its financial transactions. The foundation would remain free to conceal the identity of donors and thus free to keep selling them university favors, as it did several years ago when an especially arrogant donor purchased the dismissal of the university's athletic director.
Since UConn will remain in effect a private university, state government might as well tax away its endowment too.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester.