John D'Aloia Jr.
John D'Aloia Jr. is a retired navy captain and submarine commander. He is a columnist for several newspapers in Kansas.
The existence of Mad Congress Disease (MCD) is demonstrated in many ways. How they spend our money is a prominent subset of the disease's symptoms, especially when the light of day is cast upon earmarks.
My hometown city commission is trying to determine how to come up with the needed funds to repair its swimming pool within existing revenue sources, not wanting to put the bite on citizens in other jurisdictions. What makes it all very frustrating is that every citizen in town is being taxed by the feds for that very same purpose elsewhere in the country--our federal tax dollars are renovating swimming pools across the nation. (I have not been able to find what in the Constitution gives Congress the authority to sock you and me for building swimming pools. Certainly there is no nexus to interstate commerce, but then perhaps the Glancing Duck theory is being invoked.)
When the U.S. House approved the $68 billion Treasury, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development spending bill, it contained more than 1,500 new earmarks at a cost of about $900 million. Included in the earmarks were $500,000 for a swimming pool in Columbus, Ohio, and $500,000 to renovate a swimming pool in Banning, California. Several members offered an amendment to strip the pool earmark from the bill--it was soundly defeated, gathering only 61 votes. Other earmarks in the bill included $500,000 for a scenic trail in Monterey, California, $1.5 million for the William Faulkner Museum in Oxford, Mississippi, and $500,000 for an athletic facility in Yucaipa, California. So much for the promise of the newly elected House leadership to restrain earmarking.
Examples of out-of-control government spending can jump out at you when you are not even looking for them. A friend gave me a copy of a trade magazine dealing with composites because it contained an article on the use of composites in submarines. As I was thumbing through the magazine, there it was. The EPA was spending your tax dollars to help the Chinese government increase the use of grid-connected wind power in China's Hebei province. Why are our tax dollars being used to help a less-than-friendly foreign government increase its energy sources to serve its burgeoning military buildup? In an EPA press release, the reason comes out Green: "We all share the same environment," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. "Working together through this partnership, the United States can assist China in shifting to a greener, more sustainable path." Being a politically correct shade of green trumps national security. According to a Chinese government website, the Hebei provincial government has been carrying out an environmental protective and pollution-controlling program named the "Restoration Program of Blue Water, Azure Sky and Verdant Landscape." Does it not all sound so wonderful, and are you not so happy that your tax dollars are helping it come to fruition?
Hawaii's congressional delegation has the distinction of being the third-ranked "bring-home-the-bacon" porkers. An earmark by Senator Daniel Inouye funneled $3 million to the Mauna Kea Discovery Center in Hilo, Hawaii. Inouye wrote "[the center] will educate visitors about the seafaring explorations that were done by Native Hawaiians in the past and the explorations of the skies done now by astronomers atop Mauna Kea." This too sounds so wonderful--I wonder if his writers were in cahoots with the Hebei Province writers. Stephen Laffey, in an Human Events article, wrote:
Blockqoute: The brazenness with which Congressmen siphon American taxpayers in order to feed their own political careers is as astounding as it is detrimental. This country cannot afford to be a cash register for every Congressional whim and desire.
Sorry Mr. Laffey, actions prove that taxpayers are looked upon as a bottomless pocket book to further congressional pride and greed, with no thought to tomorrow.
In spite of the amount of your tax dollars that have been given for trips to Hawaii, these dollars are just a footnote to the grasp that MCD has on the delegation. Senator Daniel Akaka has introduced a bill that would create an independent, race-based government for Native Hawaiians. The bill is actually being given serious consideration. Contemplate the implications. It is not pretty. *
"A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired." --Alexander Hamilton