October 2, 2003

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if money grew on a tree? The way our government spends it, sometimes we all must stop and question whether they’re hiding the fact that there is a dollar bill forest hidden somewhere in Washington D.C. I guess I don’t understand while everyone is moaning and groaning about the economy and how poor we all are, why our wonderful government keeps spending our hard earned tax dollars like they’re burning a hole in their pocket.

I realize that politics and pork go hand in hand and that the majority of politicians always have their eye out for funding for a special pet project back home that will help pave the way to the next election. That’s simply job security. I also understand the back scratching that goes on as well, where you secure votes for your pork project by voting for your fellow’s pet projects so that everyone’s happy. I don’t think we’ll ever change this.

But what really bugs me is all the money we waste on these silly public hearings, formal investigations, surveys, feasibility studies and the works. The Star Report into former President Bill Clinton’s affairs (literally and figuratively) brought this fact to light in the nation as the public was made aware of the millions of tax payer dollars that went to hire private investigators and other reviewers to compile tons of paperwork about all the bad things Slick Willy did while in office. So what did it accomplish? Not much but provide a paycheck for all those involved.

Now Missouri may have a similar issue to deal with. Political gamesmanship may soon bring an “independent review” of the U.S. Army, and more specifically, how it allowed Missouri Senator Jon Dolan a leave from his service on active duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He returned to Jefferson City and cast the deciding vote to override Governor Bob Holden’s veto of the concealed weapons law.

Now, this whole deal cries out sour grapes as the Democrats are obviously upset that they lost. But in the middle of one of our state’s worst budget crisis in recent history, politicians don’t cast a second thought to the idea of throwing a bunch of money around to “investigate” how and why Dolan was allowed leave from his post. (It’s not like he was manning a key guard post or anything – the guy is a public relations officer.) You lost the vote – get over it and don’t waste a bunch more tax money simply to try to smear the opposition. I target the Democrats in this specific instance but we all know it goes both ways.

While Dolan’s case is the one making the news right now, it’s just one drop in the bucket. It seems like every time someone breaks wind in the capital we have to launch a full-fledged investigation, hearings and the works.

Maybe I can recruit some help in my battle against this waste. I would suspect the environmental lobby would be appalled if they saw the piles and piles of papers generated by these bureaucratic nightmares. I shouldn’t have to much problem getting the education field to join in the battle since it seems to be the biggest loser thus far in the recent budget cuts.

Of course when we march on Jefferson City or Washington D.C. to voice our concerns the first thing the politicians will do is schedule some public hearings. That will be followed by an official review with a couple studies and surveys sprinkled in to make us all think that they may really actually do something about the problem. It’s just a great big smoke screen. They hope that in the weeks, months or years it takes to do all of this, we will either forget what we wanted or they will have advanced up the political ladder to where they no longer will have to deal with us. If you can’t tell, I’m a bit fed up with politics.

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