Here’s my letter to our Congressman, Virgil Goode, who represents the Fifth Congressional District in Virginia.
Like many Americans of his generation, Representative Goode has made the political/philosophical journey from Democrat to Independent to Republican. He is a modest man who serves his constituency — mostly Red-Staters with a few Blue Spots here and there — with integrity and attention.
Virgil’s response follows my email, which I sent late last week. As you can see, one of his other virtues is promptness.
As active bloggers the Baron and I are members of several groups whose interests in governmental advocacy is evolving. One of the issues reverberating through the blogosphere is the astronomical sums needed for aid to Katrina (and soon, Rita) victims.
As believers in a supply-side economy we are against raising taxes to assist these areas. Such a move would simply increase the economic damage already being done by acts of God; we are praying that acts of Congress don’t exacerbate the situation and do further harm to our national productivity…not to mention the foolish acts of man: people who build those monstrous “cottages” within sight of the beach and then want federal money to cover the cost of their loss when seasonal weather comes along lack all integrity. In my humble opinion.
As an aside, I’ve always thought those people don’t need aid, they need an IQ test. Ditto for anyone who wants to live below sea level and depend on the feds to (literally) bail them out.
From where we sit (and admittedly we “sit” on a ridge high enough that water will never be an issue. We actually did that on purpose since looking at Howardsville is a cautionary tale for anybody worried about floods) there doesn’t seem to be any way Congress can begin to meet the needs of these areas without some trimming of the lard-laden spending projects currently up for consideration. Or even those already passed. If that isn’t done *first* then throwing FEMA money around is actually harmful to the rest of us, and while it helps those areas in the short term, in the long run it harms initiative and private projects. There is much we can do as private citizens first, before Uncle Sam steps in. Some wag suggested that Wal-Mart did such a good job in handing out generators, supplies, etc., that we ought to consider WEMA instead of FEMA.
I am requesting that you review what projects are up for consideration and explain your position re cutting pork for the emergency we’ve been handed. My request is simply one of many others in the blogosphere. We are in the process of compiling a Congressional head count to see what can be done to make room for hurricane aid by using funds from existing programs — just like in real life.
By the way, one thing that struck me in reading about the proposed allocation of monies in Virginia is that much of it goes (in small amounts, admittedly) to technological improvements for local law enforcement. Some of it seems to be techie-driven rather than a fundamental “need.” Another disturbing trend is all the monies being thrown at juvenile crime prevention. Are there any studies to show that this actually helps? I ask because the studies I read a few years ago showed that DARE was a boondoggle, to put it mildly. So is Head Start, for that matter. Having worked with both populations, I don’t place much value in government intervention.
Waay too much is being expected of the feds by local government. Things that could be done by private initiative (and perhaps rewarded with tax breaks, a la the Neighborhood Assistance Act program) are instead getting funded in Washington.
So. This email is to request a list, if any, of projects you intend to assist in having trimmed by Congress. Your response would be posted on our website and on the national compilation being done by one of the aggregators (the term being used for very large bloggers that collect and disseminate information).
By the way, though I haven’t followed this issue out to all the states, a number of bloggers are reporting disappointment/anger at the lack of response from their reps. I don’t mean that they didn’t agree with their reps; I’m talking about a failure to reply one way or another. The resulting anger makes me wonder if this portends any sea change for the 2006 elections? It’s too early to tell, of course, but it will be a trend to watch — especially in Massachusetts.
By the way, I looked up your “report card” on the Pork site, and you scored pretty well! Congratulations…though a small boo for the health care mess. Without that vote, you’d have been an A student, Virgil.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to your response.
September 23, 2005
Thank you for your observations about dealing with the costs of Hurricane Katrina. I do not want to raise taxes. I believe there are other options that we should address. Your suggestion about the highway pork should be shown every consideration. I hope that my positions on cutting certain spending items such as foreign aid, which would provide half the cost for Katrina, would be adopted. I also want to see a financial czar in charge of all the hurricane relief funding. I have already seen huge instances of waste and poor judgment.
I am particularly disappointed with President Bush and his failure to do anything to stop illegal immigration, which costs between $20 billion and $50 billion per year. By stopping illegal immigration, our country would save billions. One small example involves additional funding that we have had to provide law enforcement around the country, because of increased gang activity. The FBI and local law enforcement entities are finding that illegals from Mexico and Central America are expanding this type of gang activity in the United States. Thank you again for your email and comments. With best wishes to you and the Baron, I am
Can you please clone your representative and send about 45 of him to California? We have 53 districts, and about 9 decent reps.
I hope that my positions on cutting certain spending items such as foreign aid, which would provide half the cost for Katrina, would be adopted.
I don’t understand the arithmetic of this remark.
By the way, one thing that struck me in reading about the proposed allocation of monies in Virginia is that much of it goes (in small amounts, admittedly) to technological improvements for local law enforcement. Some of it seems to be techie-driven rather than a fundamental “need.”
I’m a little leery of this line of thought. It seems to me that a very very important root cause of the NOLA disaster is that the police radio system failed. Both because their equipment was old (no satellite phones) and because they didn’t do low-tech common-sense things like put transmitters and generators on floors above sea level. In a war we start operations with bombing runs against the enemy’s command-and-control infrastructure. Let’s not pinch pennies into having a c&c infrastructure that collapses even without an enemy attack.
I think that general sneering at giving the latest and greatest geek toys to law enforcement is misplaced. Some of those things are not just cool gadgets, they really can provide the difference between disaster and complete chaos in a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
what you see as *general sneering* is to me simply a profoundly important philosophical/political decision about where funding for these items should come from. Notice what I said in the next para:
Waay too much is being expected of the feds by local government. Things that could be done by private initiative (and perhaps rewarded with tax breaks, a la the Neighborhood Assistance Act program) are instead getting funded in Washington .
Giving the local law enforcement agencies the tools they need is the task of local govt, not the feds. Law enforcement agencies have powerful DC lobbyists when what they really need is powerful connections to the communities they serve.
The Neighborhood Assistance Act Grant is one of the best things Congress ever did to get local businesses to fund things with their time, money or resources. It ought to be expanded to include community agencies and departments, not just non-profits.
The same goes with funding the extras for schools. The worst thing that ever happened to education in this country was the creation of the Department of Education. What a boondoggle that one is.
I’m after local funding and local accoutability. If you see sneering there, it’s your inference not my meaning. I could have been clearer, though.
I don’t know the “arithmetic” of this remark but I do understand its logic:
In the Hon Goode’s opinion (1)half the billions we need for Katrina can be raised by (2) taking it from all the billions we shell out in foreign aid.
Lots of people don’t see foreign aid as pork. Maybe it’s not; maybe it’s just tribute, like we used to have to pay to the Barbary States.
Correction: The Neighborhood Assistance Act Grant was passed by the General Assembly in Virginia. What a dreamer I am!
A topic that will be of considetrable interest to GoVers
At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in the year 1787, Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) had this to say about “The Fall of The Athenian Republic” some 2,000 years prior:
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”
“The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”
related links within the above.
I feel that Europe may well be in the penultimate phase, while America in the “complacency to apathy” phase.
Prof Tyler may well be right in his prognosis but I have always had some misgivings about “history repeating itself”.
Ditto what Bordergal said. I’m stuck here in Texas with “Smokey Joe” Barton, teh dimwit Republican who couldn’t see fit to sign onto the bipartisan letter from most of the rest of Texas’ Congressional delegation asking Bush to declare an emergency regarding Texas’ illegal immigration problem.
I hate to say this, but I think someone is going to have to be killed in a terrorist attack by someone sneaking across the Rio Grande before we do anything about our borders.