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Posted on 08/18/2005 4:48:52 AM PDT by from occupied ga
Virginia Politicians and Highway Pork
by Jacob G. Hornberger, August 17, 2005
For a good example of the moral perversity of the budget-busting, pork-barrel highway bill, consider what recently happened in Bristol, Virginia. While on his annual statewide listening tour across the state, Republican Sen. George Allen proudly told Bristol voters that their local officials were going to receive even more money from Congress than they had requested for the renovation of the local train station.
Rep. Rick Boucher, a Democrat, had requested only $400,000 for the project. Not to be outdone, Sen. John Warner, a Republican, had requested $1 million for the same project.
So what did Congress do? It simply combined the two numbers and awarded Bristol officials a grant of $1.4 million. Laughing about the situation, Allen said, Congress works in mysterious ways. Ill guarantee they will use this extra $400,000.
Extra $400,000? Didnt Allen actually mean extra $1 million, given that Bouchers request implied that the project could be done for $400,000? Oh well, whats a million dollars to taxpayers who have trouble saving any money these days?
Unfortunately, this is how democracy works in America today, compliments of the U.S. Congress. Federal representatives return home to their constituents and proudly tell them, Look at the free federal money I have brought home to you. I represent you well. I fight for your interests. Be sure to remember what I have done for you when election day rolls around.
Yet isnt the entire process nothing more than a corrupt way to purchase votes in advance of an election? Rather than simply stuff cash into the hands of individual voters, which would be illegal, they stuff grants of cash into the hands of local public officials and ask their constituents to return them to office so that they can do more of the same.
Even worse, people are actually grateful for being serviced in this way. After all, dont forget that it is peoples very own money that is ultimately being used to fund projects. The money is withheld from people by their employers, compliments of Congress, and paid to the IRS, which then puts the money at the disposal of Congress, which then dispenses it to local government officials.
The grateful voters from Bristol then clap and happily say, Thank you, Mssrs. Boucher, Warner, and Allen for having the IRS take our hard-earned money and returning a portion of it to our local public officials to renovate our train station. We are so grateful for what you have done for us. Please do more of it in the future. You are so effective.
Or more likely, the voters simply convince themselves that the free federal money is actually coming out of the income and savings of their fellow citizens in other parts of the country. Ironically, people in other parts of the country are thinking the same thing when their representatives return and proudly make the same sort of announcements in their area. To paraphrase the 19th-century French free-market legislator Frédéric Bastiat, the federal highway bill provides a good example of how the federal government has become a fiction by which everyone is trying to live at the expense of everyone else.
This is what democracy in America is now all about. Everyone in Washington knows that there is no better way for a member of the U.S. House or Senate to ingratiate himself with voters than by announcing, Free federal pork for your community. Come and get it.
When will this moral perversity be brought to a halt? Only when the American people stop rewarding this corrupt practice with accolades, praise, and gratitude and instead greet political announcements of federal grants with the indignation, disdain, and condemnation they deserve.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.
Republicans grabbing tax dollars with both hands - Democrats grabbing tax dollars with one hand. I've discovered a difference between Democrats and Republicans! Republicans spend more of our money.
Perhaps if Hornberger, a supposedly educated writer, discovered that we were not created a democracy he would find out why he has helped to foment the problem by making us out to be what we are not.
We were formed a representative Republic. The media and the left has made us over into a "democracy". What he has described is exactly what happens in a democracy.
I have to give you credit for one of the more bizarre comments I've read in the last couple of days. How does Hornberger's elucidation of the problem i.e. he says
Unfortunately, this is how democracy works in America today, compliments of the U.S. Congress.help foment the problem? He's just labeling what we've become.
Actually, it's an extra $1.4M, since the federal government should not be in the business of renovating train stations anyway.
Yes - I kind of thought that too. Makes me happy that my tax dollars are going to renovate a train station in VA. (At least it's no a train station in NY or NJ)
It's a good thing the Adults are finally in charge. Blackbird.
So this is that wonderful conservative George Allen everyone has been talking about. I can see why people say he will bring true conservative ideals back to the Republican Party. SSDP (P for politician)
I can't wait until we have a GOP-majority Congress; why, with a Republican in the White House, just WATCH the fiscal responsibility and conservatism take over. I can hardly wait.
VA ping (if you're interested).
You just don't understand modern Republican conservatism :-). If you want an explanation ping some of the
retards people on the day in the life of George Bush thread (on second thought maybe not, they'll just whine at you)
Pork pork pork pork (like spam spam spam spam in The meaning of Life)
Not that it makes much difference, but IIRC it's not just a "train station." There are restaurants and shops (along a much smaller scale) like Union Station in D.C. But it's been over 20 years since I was actually there.
I'm not justifying the expense. I am wondering though if it's in Virginia and Tennessee. The state line goes directly down the middle of "State Street" in Tennessee.
Oh come on now, let's be fair, what was Allen supposed to say at that point? YES, the bill is full of pork, but look at the vote tallies:
In the Senate it passed 91-4 with 5 not voting.
In the House it passed 412-8 with 14 not voting.
Heck, even Mike Pence (who some around her claim is Reagan Incarnate) voted for the bill. As did Frist, Brownback, Santorum and Tancredo.
And the only complaining you'll hear from any Republican Governor is that his state didn't get enough money.
I don't like the pork in the bill either. But there was no stopping this train (station).
Clinton, Boxer, Feinstein, and Mikulski?
Good grief. Bristol is tiny. WHO is going to use this train station, anyway? Not patrons of the Bristol drag strip.
And Roanoke, a railroad city with 250,000 people in the metropolitan area, can't even get passenger rail service because Norfolk Southern fights the idea tooth and nail. They might lose a bit of freight business.
I'm so glad Congress is stewarding our tax monies so responsibly.
How about using it to illustrate the problem with runaway federal pork spending instead of bragging about pulling one over on the taxpayers? I guess that is too much to ask. After all, everyone is doing it.
Clinton, Boxer, Feinstein, and Mikulski?
Hey! Unlike the above mentioned, the puppies are cute. And probably better better mannered.
I happen to know George Allen well enough to know that that laugh was not about "pulling one over on the taxpayers."
Believe what you will.
I know what you are saying, as do many others. Unfortunately, with the manner in which this article was written, it comes across as just that.
From the article: "Laughing about the situation, Allen said, Congress works in mysterious ways. Ill guarantee they will use this extra $400,000."
Just taking my cues from the article. He may not have been thinking, "Hey, we stole some extra money we didn't need," but the flippant attitude about, "Oh, well. Four hundred grand. Guess we'll use it." isn't exactly my idea of economic responsibility.
Of course, some folks had an axe to grind before this thing ever came up for a vote.
FWIW, the estimated cost for the rennovation of the train station is about $5 million.
The point is not who's going to use the station, but who's going to get the money in a nice fat juicy contract (complete with overruns no doubt.) No doubt they'll be grateful enough to make some relevant political contributions.
Then the restaurants and shops should be happy to pay for it.
hy not let the owners of the station pay for it? (no I do not know who/what that is)
What do you want to bet the owners of the station are, in one fashion of another, the taxpayers of Bristol?
Either the store and reataurant owners, or the station owners, whoever they may be. If it is owned by the taxpayers, than a city referendum should determine need and desire, and the city can raise its own money (but not with federal dollars).
Only one point needs a little clarification, and I'm sure Hornberger will be embarrassed when someone points it out to him: The taxpayer funds to be applied to renovating this derelict train station don't come out of anyone's paycheck, at least not directly. They come from the 18.3 cents per gallon federal fuel tax we pay every time we put gas in our car or truck.
The greater outrage, I believe, is not that $1.4 million wil be squandered on this pork project but that needed improvements to the nation's highways will be set back by that amount, multiplied by the hundreds of similar projects of dubious value also in the bill Bush just signed into law.
The pics are from a site, Agilitynut.com
The lady, Debra Jane, rescues dogs and trains them for agility contests. It seems that they do a fair bit of traveling.
New conservatism (as defined by Republicans)
The taxpayer funds to be applied to renovating this derelict train station don't come out of anyone's paycheck, at least not directly. They come from the 18.3 cents per gallon federal fuel tax we pay every time we put gas in our car or truck.
Here I must disagree with you. Any tax we pay always comes directly from our paychecks - Not necessarily prior withholding, but directly from our pay nevertheless.
I'm inclined to guess the station is owned in some manner by some government or quasi government entity.......thus "justifying" tax dollars being used.
Do I like it? No.......but until such time as confiscatory taxes are lowered, we are not going to see an end to it.
These dogs are agile and travel a lot too
Local tax dollars is fine, if the taxpayers in the local jurisdiction agree to it. But for federal dollars to be used for this is criminal.
I'm not sure why you think that local tax dollare are any better than federal. The exact same logic applies to both. A large number of people who will derive absolutely no benefit from the expenditure are being forced to pay. On just has a smaller geographic area.
The key is the part I highlighted. Two of the pillars of the way the Founding Fathers set things up are local control and mobility. If the locals want to fund it, they can put forth a referendum to use local tax dollars (from sales tax, parking fines, whatever). If the measure passes, and a particular citizen doesn't like it, he can move.
When it is federal dollars, I - a non-resident of Bristol - have not had a say in how my tax money was spent, and it makes no difference if I get up and move or not; it is still being funded with federal monies.
Now, that said, I agree with you; improvements such as the one to the train station in Bristol should not be paid with public monies. I would vote against such a resolution.
It depends upon the source of the tax dollars...it is far too easy for a segment of the population to agree to local referendums for increasing taxes that do not hit their wallets. 2 examples of that which are very blatant are property taxes (usually for education) in locations where renters are also able to vote and increased cigarette taxes when the majority of non-smokers will always say yes for the minority to get hit with the bill.
I understand fully your logic, but what I'm saying is that geography shouldn't matter. Even in a single county, there will be a lot of people who are taxed for the thing and will never derive any benefit from it at all.
If the locals want to fund it,
The way these things work here is that some group who stand to benefit form a tax referendum (ie like a consortium of construction companies) will call themselves something like "Citizens for a better Bristol" and maybe spend $300,000 - $500,000 in an advertising blitz just before the election touting the advantages of whatever local pork/squander their accomplices in county government are setting up.
Since you can never go wrong underestimating the intelligence of the average voter, and it isn't feasible for those of us who want to keep our money in our pockets to mount a counter campaign - these things usually pass even though most people if they thought about it (or were at least capable of rational thought)would see that it was no benefit to them and a detriment to their pocketbook.
The point I was alluding to was simply that the fuel tax, levied in 1956 to finance construction of the Interstate Highway System, is no longer being applied to that purpose. Instead, that huge pot of money offers members of Congress a greater opportunity to claim to the folks back home that they've secured federal funding for such-and-such. As this article illustrates, even stalwart conservatives such as George Allen can't resist the temptation.
I say, starve the beast.
With the feds, though, it makes no difference.
all too true. You wouldn't want taxes to actually benefit the people who PAID them would you?
Precisely my point on local taxes, because the corollary of your statement is "you wouldn't want the people who actually paid for to derive a benefit from it would you?"
I once lived in NYC, and couldn't wait to get elsewhere, so I agree on that. We still need to not fund that sort of crap in the first place. I'm sure the most of the residents of Bristol couldn't care less if the station was eaten by termites and collapsed; however, the construction company that's doing the job and its subcontractors are probably drooling over the plunder now.
While we're on the subject see my comment in post 45
Not to mention the local/state/federal politician that got his pockets lined. Or is that too cynical?
realism not cynicism :-)
Yep. Politics as usual.
It comes with 1 mil in "overruns" built in. I guess it would be too much to ask that it be removed from the bill. Nah, that wouldn't fit with the new conservatism. Blackbird.