Ted Stevens: Reaching the End of his Bridge to Nowhere
Today reports were confirmed that mark the passing of Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator in U.S. history. Much has been and will be written by people who knew the esteemed Senator, I will not attempt to add to the collection of obituaries and memorials which will no doubt extol Stevens’ many admirable qualities, instead I wanted to write about one of his more controversial qualities. I am writing about his pork barrel spending.
Ted Stevens, in his decades on the Appropriations Committee got billions of dollars of government money funneled into the State he basically helped start. In fact, he made Alaska the highest per capita recipient of Government funds. Just a month ago we also saw the other Senator who brought home the bacon, Robert Byrd, pass away and with his death I also found myself considering this method of getting money for one’s home state. Is this practice wrong or right? Internal conflict time
“It’s wrong” A voice in my head screams. “It’s a waste of tax payer dollars for useless projects. By choosing the location for Government money based on where Senators happen to reside we allow inefficiency to take the place of common sense. Robert Byrd built the headquarters of the Coast Guard in West Virginia. What the hell? Furthermore it is essentially buying votes by paying off the constituency with easy money even though Government projects, if not strategic, cannot sustain long term economic growth. This isn’t even mentioning the astronomical deficit we now face!”
The other part of my brain yells back, “But weren’t these Senators elected to do what’s best for their states. Should they have let these projects, which were going to have to happen anyway, go elsewhere. Hasn’t our government decided that seniority is the best way to prevent disunity among the committees and the entire Senate and these senators were simply doing what was expected and what they earned?”
“Why are you talking to yourself!?!” A final part of my brain shouts!
Well, I’m going to go figure this all out with my schizophrenic self. RIP Ted Stevens.