Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Bridge Too Far


Ever wonder why the American people get disgusted with the folks we send to Washington? I believe if you lined a thousand people up and asked them if they thought the Congress (and the President) for that matter were looking out for their best interests the majority of the people would say no.

Well, yesterday that list probably grew a little larger. (Although the people of Ketchikan and Gravina Island in Alaska are pretty happy. )

The US Congress passed and President Bush signed into law an enormous Transportation Bill that will spend approximately 286 Billion dollars on transportation improvements. Among the worthwhile investments is in infrastructure repair that will either enlarge or repair existing roadways and bridges. Certainly, in a country as vast as ours and a people so mobile, this is a good thing.

Then, wait for it, comes the most tasty of Washington morsels; PORK! How do you like yours? Personally, I'm a pulled pork fan, Carolina Barbecue, mmmm.

In this little bill, there are items such as a waterfront walkway in Hoboken New Jersey to be named after Ole Blue Eyes himself: Frank Sinatra. Now, I liked Frank a lot. He was a great singer and mediocre actor, but come on, do we really need to use federal funds (your and my taxes) to name a walkway after him that we likely will never walk on? That one was $1.6 million dollars. Please tell me why the good people of Hoboken couldn't honor their home-boy themselves...

Other celebrity porkers include spending $2 million on an replacing an elevated highway with a tunnel in New York to make way for a building by that pauper Donald Trump.

There are many other little finger sandwiches like this and I won't go into them here, but the doozy, the whole roast pig with the apple in its mouth is the Bridge. Actually two bridges, but the one that gets me is a $250 MILLION dollar appropriation to put a bridge between the (excellent I'm sure) township of Ketchikan and Gravina Island in Alaska. Now, between Ketchikan and Gravina, there are about 14,050 residents (14000 on Ketchikan and 50 on Gravina). It seems like an awful lot of money for a bridge, but that's not even the best part. No, there are 2 bridges. Each of the costing a quarter of a Billion dollars. I'm sure this had nothing to do with the fact that Representative Don Young, R-Alaska is a committee chairman on you guessed it, the transportation sub-committee. The best part, they named one of the bridges after him!

According to Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group, estimates that the transportation bill funded $24 billion of special projects, which means over 8 percent of that budget went to pork.

Why are we putting up with this nonsense? I think we the people can stomach a little pork, maybe just a cutlet or two, but items like the bridge to the island with 50 people is bordering on the outrageous. Write your congressperson and complain about this. Say, "Where's my bridge?" "Where's my walkway to my local hero?" Actually say "What the Hell are you Doing With My Money?" You can get to them through www.house.gov/writerep.

It's ridiculous for us to continue to behave this way when we've incredibly pressing issues to worry about. This bill exemplifies yet again the worst about our government. The idea that you have to "bring home the bacon" to get reelected is upside down. We need to develop a different way of grading our legislators.

Tell me what you think.

Best Regards,

Dennis

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