Thursday, September 15, 2005

Highway Bill Pork - Re-Distribute?

How about this public spirit? The City Council in Bozeman, Montana, has been petitioned by both sides of the political aisle, to give the feds back a $4 million dollar earmark for a parking garage in the recently passed “lu-lu” of a $286 billion dollar highway bill. Citizen Jane Shaw said “We figure New Orleans needs the money right now a lot more than we need extra down-town parking.”

Why not cancel all the special-project pork in the highway bill and dedicate this $25 billion in savings to emergency relief on the Gulf Coast. Would it be asking too much for Richmond, Indiana, to give up $3 million for its hiking trail, or Newark, N.J., to put on hold its $2 million bike path? Or Peoria, Illinois to give up its $800,000 Sears block parking deck that may not be needed for many years? Or we could give up our 1.6 million dollar Rt. 29 from Rt. 6 to Rt. 1-180 study and land acquisition project? (This project was never supported by much of the areas leadership. The estimated cost has risen from $300 million to over $600 million in less than 2 ½ years.) It is our responsibility to ask our Congressman why we are spending more money on “studies and land acquisition” because of the questionable need and escalating costs, it is most likely this highway WILL NEVER BE BUILT!! Who can say these things are priorities over rebuilding the areas affected by the lack of proper leadership and the forces of nature?

House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young of Alaska is going to rip the taxpayer off for $454 million in the special-project pork bill already passed. He intends to use this obscene amount of taxpayer dollars to connect a town of 8000 residents to a village of 50 people by bridges. Most taxpayers would believe that this project could be at least put off and the money used for higher priorities, and sane people would say “kill the whole bridge idea.” By sending this money where it’s needed most, like maybe new stronger levees or land reclamation in the delta, a bronze plaque could be presented stamped: “Proudly Brought to You by the Citizens of Alaska.” A spokesman for Mr. Young said his office told the Anchorage Daily News that the pork-for-relief swap was “moronic.”

Most of the statements above come from the WSJ and the JS. My own input is to say what I usually say: Greed and special interests determine our priorities. Why would common sense now enter into the equation? Wait till the Small Business Administration gets their hands on some of these billions. Lot of the Katrina Relief Funds could end up right here in Peoria small businesses just like 9/11 money did. Probably used for totally unrelated projects. I suspect that greedy people including “tort” attorneys have paperwork in motion right now to get their hands on their “fair share” of more governmental largesse and mismanagement that WILL occur as a result of Katrina.

Anyway, it’s their problem down south, we say. Why should we give up our goodies for their needs? They saw it coming didn’t they? They could have used taxpayer dollars to build better levees than to use those dollars to build the Superdome. Then they wouldn’t have needed the Superdome to house victims of nature’s wrath. They could have elected stronger leadership, they should have asked for federal intervention sooner, what was FEMA really doing, was the Corp of Engineers doing all they could to let the politicians know what could lie ahead, couldn’t have President Bush violated state laws and sent in the feds right away? We have all kinds of reasons as to what went wrong. In my opinion, we are all guilty, including those who don’t vote and don’t pay taxes. We have developed into a soft nation with lots of compassion but our own material needs have replaced the needs of even our safety and our own humanity. We have created monstrous bureaucracies, totally forgot the “Peter Principle”, created a “me first, must have” society and play the “who can we blame and get away with it” game. We have created more and more “good old boys and girls clubs” who promote only their own and who would rather go down with another “Titanic” than listen to anyone outside the “club” or publicly admit they are or were wrong.

But, bear up. Some of the best is yet to come and more of the worst is guaranteed. The next few years will determine our destiny. Once set, it will be extremely difficult to alter. Instead of my usual “Wake Up, Peoria, I’ll include, “Wake Up, America.” Our own and our nations compassion in times of need is beyond comparison. Almost everyone, including some prisoners and looters, want to help out in time of need. Unfortunately, without proper responsible leadership and our own acceptance of responsibility for the stewardship of this country, sincere compassion mixed with welfare, will not be enough as an increasing number of needs are bound to keep appearing.

After 9/11, we, at least for awhile, started sorting out our priorities. Then slowly greed, envy, and money replaced a lot of our common sense. Now out of this tragic event caused by man and nature, we have more opportunities to rearrange our want lists as to what is really needed and best for this situation and time. Will we do it? History, that seems to repeat itself, tells us that for awhile, at least while compassion for others runs high, while gas prices are high and unemployment low, we will make an attempt to re-align our priorities, but soon we will go back to “keeping up or ahead of the Joneses” and what about these unglamorous priorities we rearranged? Those will slip back into largely cash donations for more glamorous projects, more welfare for those who failed to take advantage of opportunities when presented and more demand for larger salaries and benefits by the working populace including management, oftentimes in return for less work and less responsibility. And more lip service for the REAL problems of society.

I love my country and our form of government has so far proven to be the best. I have the right to vote and help nominate and elect the type of leadership this increasingly complex society needs. I have joined with other bloggers to share some of the power of the established press. Most of us have rights given to us by the laws of this land. We have the right to ask that our “letters to the editors” get printed. Some of us are abusing this privilege; others are not using it. When we write or talk, we must be sure we have gone to great lengths to understand the situation. We all have the right and the obligation to seek and try to bring forward substantiated truths. Expect that you and I will not always have the right information or the best solutions to local or worldwide problems. Fortunately, and some times, unfortunately, the laws of this country allow us to express ourselves; right or wrong.

Bad things will happen that could have been prevented or contained with proper prioritization. Good times could be better times with better efforts and planning. We continually get “second chances.” What will we do with this one??

I close with this thought: “The unexpected happens. You (we) had better prepare for it.” (Margaret Thatcher)


Stormin' Norman said...

Saving for a rainy day would have been appropriate with Katrina. Today Bush paid the usual lip service by saying he'll pay for Katrina reconstruction by slashing unnecessary spending. C'mon George. Show some cahones and impress us all by saying, "Before we spend a dime on Katrina reconstruction, we'll slash unnecessary spending to pay for it." Unfortunately, everyone knows the biggest looting occurs in Washington, D.C. Our elected leaders brilliant solution as usual will be to simply pass the problem on to later generations by slapping a few billion more onto the federal deficit, which will easily push its way over the $8 trillion mark any day now. Plus the waste, fraud, and mismanagement that's going to occur over the coming months with this hurricane reconstruction effort will be enough to make any Civil War carpetbagger proud...

Merle Widmer said...

Hey stormin' norman,

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., a columnist whose article in the WSJ "likened our elected leaders to unappetizing creature that live in weedy ponds and feed on decaying animal matter." He goes on to say a word for our children who might be shocked (our children shocked?) by his statement: "We honor the choices of voters by seating their elected representatives in legislatures and executive offices around the nation. That doesn't mean we have to admire the personal qualities of those so elected, and many of them have given us little to admire over the past week or two".

How about the last couple of decades?

Mr. Jenkins left out mentioning some of our bureaucracies staffed with holdovers from past administrations who help cause our government to be unwieldy and bloated. It appears more layers of bureacracy are created after every act of violence, man made or natural. Too many layers of authority so unlike the private successful corporations who arae able to make decisions, act and move on. I would personally like to see as much of government privatized as common sense will permit. Unfortunately, its not going to happen.

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