10.01.2008 0

Rhode Island Reds

  • On: 10/14/2008 10:04:36
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility

  • “Rhode Island Reds are excellent egg layers … although they can sometimes be stubborn.” — Wikipedia

    It’s a basic tenant of Marxism that all money belongs to the government. Marx would have preferred to say “the people.” But, in his mind, the government was the people. Ergo, it’s all the government’s money.

    This was brought to mind recently when the handful of remaining Republicans in the Rhode Island legislature (who now caucus in a telephone booth, we are told) sued the reigning Democrats to force the tightfisted majority oligarchs to give the minority remnant more pork barrel earmarks with which to buy votes.

    The reasoning of the plaintiffs seems to be that if they can just tap into more of the public largesse, they might one day be able to escape The Ocean State’s endangered species list. After all, no one wants to be eternally linked with the Dodo Bird.

    And yet, unfortunately, the comparison is not totally without foundation.

    The 12 remaining Republican members of the Rhode Island General Assembly charge that the Democrat hierarchy is handing out some $2.3 million of “legislative grant” money (i.e., pork barrel earmarks) in a way that rewards the majority and punishes the minority (such as it is).

    Here’s how The Providence Journal describes the blatant exercise in pork barrel vote buying:

    “While much else across state government is being cut to close a massive deficit, legislative leaders have preserved this special $2.3-milliion pot of ‘legislative grant’ money for year-round distribution to rank-and-file members of the House and Senate in widely varying amounts, ranging from $500 to $15,000 for their pet organizations and causes.”

    The politicians, ever eager to grab the spotlight (except on those increasingly frequent occasions when it’s shining down from a guard tower) prefer to personally ladle out this lard to their hometown Little Leagues, soccer clubs, American Legion posts, St. Patrick’s Day parade committees, and assorted other civic groups whose members will “remember where you got that gravy” come Election Day.

    The problem the Republicans in the Assembly have is that the Democrats in charge are hogging up all the pork and sticking the GOP with the leavings. So, the GOP is going to court to challenge the “constitutional validity of approximately $2.3 million in local and private appropriations that are controlled by the Speaker and the Senate president and their respective staffs,” as their complaint alleges.

    In short, the Rhode Island Reds, of both parties, are preparing to go at it beak and claw to determine how best to divvy up “government’s money.” And Karl Marx would be proud.

    The fact is, what the whining Republicans should be outraged about shouldn’t be that they’re not getting their “fair share” of pork barrel earmarks – but that there are any pork barrel earmarks at all. If the politicians in Rhode Island have $2.3 million to hand out willy-nilly to their best friends and close relatives – at a time when the state is experiencing a “massive deficit” – here’s an idea: Why don’t they just give it back to the people they stole it from?

    Chances are that if the government of Rhode Island is facing “massive deficits,” Harry and Grace Bamsnagle of Anytown, Rhode Island, aren’t having such an easy go of it themselves. With gasoline at $4.00 a gallon, usurious taxes (according to the Tax Foundation, Rhode Island’s tax burden ranks 4th highest nationwide), rising grocery bills, and sticker-shock utility costs, chances are that Harry and Grace could figure out how to spend the $2.3 million at home where it matters most – rather than having a bunch of preening, posturing political gamecocks fighting over how best to divvy it up among themselves.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, if the remaining Republicans in the General Assembly sued to end the pork barrel earmarks altogether – rather than just to get their “fair share” of the rip off – Rhode Island voters might take them off of the endangered species list.

    Wikipedia, that pushbutton repository of the wisdom of the world, tells us that “Rhode Island Reds are excellent egg layers … although they can sometimes be stubborn.”

    Well, the Rhode Island Reds of the General Assembly have laid a major egg in getting into a pubic brouhaha over how best to buy votes with “the government’s money.” And the best move they can now make now is to stop being stubborn about simply giving it back to the people – whose hard-earned money it actually is. That’s the proper pecking order.


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