Sunday, February 22, 2009

By Mary Starrett
February 22, 2009

Bystanders in devastated areas who watch looters helping themselves to TVs and tennis shoes more often than not wind up rushing away with goods they have no business taking, reasoning that they might as well.

The mob rushes in for their “share” of the merchandise believing on some level they have a right to get theirs.

In the frenzy, rightful ownership ceases to mean anything and greed overtakes all rational thoughts about whose property is being hauled off. After all, somebody’s going to get it anyway.

As the ink dried on the massive spending ‘Stimulus’ bill politicians in states across America rubbed their hands together as visions of pork danced in their heads.

But not all elected officials rushed in to join the looters, showing that yes, America, at least at first blush, it appears there are still statesman in office. A courageous handful of governors stood up to the looters and those who engineered the smash and grab and said “Not so fast.”

Governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho have all made noises that they’re at least thinking about not joining in looting the $787 billion just sitting there amid all the broken glass.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said, "We'll have to review each program, each new dollar to make sure that we understand what are the conditions, what are the strings and see whether it's beneficial for Louisiana to use those dollars.”

That statement shows Governor Jindal has at least considered putting principle over expediency. It’s a bold move for the head of a state reeling from a projected $2 billion dollar budget shortfall, high unemployment and record foreclosures. After all, we’re talking about a $4 billion handout from D.C..

In contrast, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he’d be happy to cart off Louisiana’s share of the unclaimed booty if Jindal wanted to fork over the state’s “share.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, "My concern is … commitments attached to it that are a mile long.”

However, Perry’s not all that concerned about the strings the feds will attach because he added,. "We need the freedom to pick and choose.”

While these Republican governors have been roundly criticized for taking an ideological stand on the handout, their concerns will likely not amount to a hill of pork rinds. In the Stimulus bill is a provision that anticipates opposition and heads off at the pass any possibility that the money won’t be doled out.

In a move which can only be described as calculated political malevolence, there’s actually a clause in the bill to ensure that state legislatures get to override any balking governors.

At any rate, we need to ask just how far we’d go to remain stalwart on principle. Like finding a $100 bill lying on the floor of restaurant, do you pick it up and turn it over to management or do you take the money and run?

When all is said and done, the $787 billion dollar stimulus bill will actually wind up costing more like $3.25 trillion. That’s because the new programs called for in the bill will not be temporary stopgap measures tailored for an economic “jumpstart.” No, they’ll be around forever, or as long as the Republicans and Democrats are in power to fund the perpetual insanity they have both presided over for decades.

Perhaps the Republican governors who today are making what appear to be statements of principle about the folly of this socialist manifesto will tomorrow recant and cave in. But, for those of us who honestly believe we cannot spend our way out of debt, these gubernatorial mutterings soothe like balm.

Unfortunately, far too many Americans have come to believe that there’s no better balm than pork grease.

© 2009 Mary Starrett - All Rights Reserved


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