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Vote for pork!

I like my mayor. He lives just down the street from me, and I pass his house every time I walk the dog. Sometimes he ribs me. "A day this beautiful should be taxed!" he'll say. "Don't give Corzine any ideas," I'll reply. But in truth, he's a miserly old cuss, and an accountant by trade whose parsimonious handling of the municipal budget keeps our property taxes among the lowest in the state. In fact, almost everyone in town likes our mayor. During the last election he ran unopposed and won basically 100% of the vote. I honestly can't even tell you whether he's a Republican or a Democrat.

That's why when I received a letter from him yesterday, I actually read it, rather than tossing it directly into the garbage with the other political mass mailings. The mayor struck all the proper, non-partisan tones in the letter, but then went on to urge us to vote for two particular candidates on Tuesday's election. The reason? They brought a lot of federal pork to the region. He didn't word it that way, but he might as well have. The candidates in question happened to be Democrats, but it really didn't matter, because the only "issues" were funds for upgrading this park, restoring that old water tower, a bike path here, a ball field there.

To his credit, our mayor is very frugal with local residents' tax dollars. Like everyone else, however, he evidently loves to grab all the federal largesse he possibly can. It was an eye-opener. I guess I'm naive, but I always wondered why lawmakers so zealously guarded their pet pork projects. It was almost inconceivable to me that people's votes could actually turn on something as silly as a bike path or some other damned nonsense. I guess now I know better.


Spend a little time with politicians and you will, before much time has passed, here from them what pork they brought home to the district. It never fails. They always cite the pork as an accomplishment. If they didn't bring the pork back, they wouldn't get re-elected. They all do it, they all know it, and they all use it as a campaign argument for their return to Washington.

Speaking as a liberal to your libertarian, I am not a big fan of this either.

You're right, DBK. There's a front-page piece in the WSJ this morning about J.D. Hayworth(!) of all people, bragging to his constituents about how much pork he'd delivered. The whole piece was kind of a post-mortem on the "conservative revolution" of 1994, which truly has run its course (if indeed it ever really began.)

I guess the logic being - if you're gonna be taxed to pay for stuff on a federal level, better it be for stuff in your own backyard. Paying for a new park is less painful (for your own constituents) that way.

The problem, of course, is that almost every local politician thinks like this. And you can't really blame them, as they were elected to represent their own little areas.

If you're talking about the big freshman class of 1994, I still want to know what happened to all those signers of the Contract With America and their promises to serve no more than 12 years in Congress. Frelinghuysen in the NJ-11 is one of them. Asked about term limits at the debate on 10/27, he didn't say a word about 12 year limits or his promise. He said something about the voters deciding when to limit someone's term. Like the Willie Nelson song says, ain't it funny how time just slips away?

Anyway, yeah, pork. It's always about the pork. And the excuses for it! "Well, the budget is so big anyway, that $25 million for preserving the Hamster Contraceptive Research Center wouldn't make a difference if it went away anyway, plus those hamsters need contraceptives too. It's very important work."

> ...I still want to know what happened to all those signers of the Contract With America and their promises to serve no more than 12 years...

I can answer that one for you. Only eight made good on their pledge, and left office. Eight more moved on to the Senate or to governorships. Four were run out of office because of scandals, and one died. Twenty-nine still serve.

The one who died was an interesting case. It was Sonny Bono, whose candidacy seemed like a joke to me at the time. But I read a speech that he delivered that I thought was more frank, honest and poignant than anything I'd ever heard a congressman say, and if I could find a copy of it, I'd post it. I think it should be required reading. It was all about how the class of '94 came into office with all these ideals and good intentions, and how the system inevitably seduces and corrupts. It was shocking in its honesty, particularly given that it was coming from someone still serving at the time.

Sadly, by the time I read it he had already skied into a tree. :-(

I honestly can't even tell you whether he's a Republican or a Democrat.

I can. Remember, you live in Hudson County. ;-)

I don't think term limits are so great in some aspects, because since the representatives know they only have a certain time in office, they could *really* milk (or "pork") the system for all its worth, knowing the next guy will end up with the tab.
In that instance, the federal deficit will just continue to rise with no accountablity at all because the next guy will do the same thing. I know it sounds similar to today, but I think that accountablity (or rather, who to blame) won't matter as they will be out of office indulging in their largesse

Best governmental reform would be term limits for both houses of Congress.

In fact, I think all offices (President, VP, Congressman or Senator) should be single 6-year terms. No re-election campaigns and and perhaps it would attract candidates who actually want to serve the people, not just themselves.

If nothing else, it would end the current practice of perpetual campaigns.

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