Booty government

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 2, 2003

A serious flaw in our government by representation is that we expect elected citizens to run it. Except for those persons appointed by those we elect, the rest are elected.

The process is simple enough: they shake hands and make promises for several months while using other peoples’ money, get elected, appoint a staff, and then spend their term making excuses, more promises, and raising re-election money. The key to re-election is to &uot;bring home the bacon.&uot; So they ride run around their district, borough, precinct, town, whatever, finding out what influential people want, scoot back to their business sessions and ask other politicians, doing exactly the same thing, for mutual cooperation in passing spending bills.

Up in Richmond the delegates and senators are bemoaning the fact that our eminence, the governor, has been forced to deal with a $2 billion shortfall. He attempts to do this by cutting costs, reducing budgets, removing people. Despite this financial catastrophe, uncaring delegates have introduced 651 budget amendments calling for additional spending of nearly $2 billion.

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And the 400 proposals by the senate have not yet been added up. But that’s the key to re-election; they are not deaf or ignoring reality, not even stupid? But you thought you sent responsible people to Richmond and Washington? I’m not saying all of them are self-serving, but enough of them are to whipsaw us the taxpayers. Is it any different at the local level?

Criticize without a solution, no sir. We need a computer, a good sized one so it can be fed with unemotional, dispassionate information. Crank in the maximum amount that can be safely milked from us, the fish, without causing us to take up arms and march on the government halls. Then minus the already budgeted items and there won’t be a dime left. We must have a name for this computer so how about &uot;What Is Best For All?&uot; Obviously the computer can do no worse than muttonheads who have never heard of cutting a pro-gram, or eliminating one.

There have already been 129 requests for new taxpayer contributions to local museums and arts groups; something we could survive without for now. And how about $20 million for a new Virginia Beach Convention Center because the Pavilion just won’t do, or $60,000 to repair the windows of the Pythian Castle on Court Street in Portsmouth. Give credit to sane Chris Jones who said we should be talking about essential state services.

Picture your household as a container. You, and/or your wife are earning money and pouring it in the top. At the bottom is a spigot, controlled by you, where you let out just enough to buy the essentials you think necessary to feed, clothe and shelter your family. But halfway up the container is another spigot, controlled by governments, who siphon out what they think you need to have provided by them.

Your spending decisions or retirement plans matter not a whit. You helped send those people to where the extraction decisions are made, or you sat on your hands and had no part in selecting them; either way you are at their mercy. Too many of them do not understand that you are a fair judge of what you need and want, so they do your thinking for you. If they were reasonable and bright people it might be a good idea, but recently there is little evidence of that.

So bring on the computers. Hurricane trackers rely on them to calculate the direction of storms, almost every business in the new world uses them to track a multitude of items related to surviving in our consumer society. I even use one to track silly government spending.

Bright people are at work making it possible for a Navy Fleet Commander to know the state of readiness of every ship under his/her command, right down to how many rolls of toilet tissue are in the pipelines, coming and going. I know high school kids that could set up systems for governments so they could know what they can or cannot do to the taxpayer. Everyone except fools knows that ten minus ten leaves zero. Like they say about the headman in Iraq, it’s time to change the regime, or at least the boneheads.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist.