10.01.2008 0

What Energy Crisis?

  • On: 10/23/2008 10:42:27
  • In: Energy Crisis, Global Warming Fraud, and the Environment
  • Politicians are often criticized for being out of touch with average Americans. California legislators bring this accusation to a whole new level.

    As the Associated Press reported last week, California lawmakers enjoy free, taxpayer funded gasoline—as well as one, and in some cases two, state-issued vehicles. Before the anger sets in, however, it gets worse.

    The fuel cards given to these lawmakers are used for both private and work related travel. Moreover, the cards can also be used to purchase snack, drinks, oil changes, and more. As the AP story articulates:

    “Lawmakers pull up to the pump, swipe the gas card and never see the bill, which is sent directly to legislative committees and paid with tax dollars.”

    The precedent for this unregulated rampant abuse of taxpayer money is non-existent. All other states reimburse their elected officials by the mile for business-related trips only.

    The fact that California lawmakers already make a sizable $116,208 salary coupled with the state’s cavernous $15.2 billion deficit make this latest taxpayer funded gas handout especially disconcerting. One would think that California state government might nix the fuel cards as part of a broader effort to trim the state’s gluttonous budget and ease the taxpayer burden—even if just by a little.

    There’s certainly enough blame to spread around. The taxpayer-funded vehicles and unlimited fuel cards are both outdated relics from 50 years ago when gasoline was cheap and the lawmakers’ salaries low. The negligence on behalf of California legislators to overhaul this practice is criminal and ought to be condemned.

    Moreover, both Democrats and Republicans are to be held accountable for this abuse of taxpayer money. Although they have championed fiscal responsibility and thrifty government, 13 of the top 21 fuel consumers were Republicans. The number one spender—racking up a whopping $5,140 gas bill in the first seven months of 2008—also happened to be a Republican.

    Despite all of this, the most troubling aspect of the whole fuel card fiasco is not that the taxpayers are footing their leaders’ gas bills nor is it the fact that California is doing this while mired in a financial swamp.

    The underlying tragedy with this case is that the California legislators are completely insulated and entirely disconnected from the very real and very painful energy crisis plaguing our nation. When taxpayers are filling up their tanks, the price per gallon is a non-issue to the lawmakers who have implemented the highest gasoline taxes in the nation—a whopping 56.5 cents per gallon. Whether the price is $3, $4, or $10 a gallon is of no concern to the fuel card-carrying legislators. They cannot relate and cannot empathize.

    Bill Clinton used to declare: “I feel your pain.” California lawmakers, however, are completely oblivious to their constituents’ pain.

    Representative democracy isn’t so representative anymore.

    It’s time for California politicians to throw their fuel cards in the trash where it belongs and pull honest representative democracy out of the trash.

    Copyright © 2008-2023 Americans for Limited Government