Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Making the silk purse

John McCain is an idiot.

When he’s not grumpily confronting the Obama over military equipment ordered by the previous administration, he’s tweeting from the Senate floor about earmarks. Yeah, that’s right, McCain is using technology, everyone! Clearly his campaign promise that he would learn how to get online by himself “fairly soon” was not an idle threat.

Which means that my grandfather only bested him by twelve years.

The thing is, I’m not sure he understands what earmarks really are.

First of all, “earmarks” and “pork” are not the same thing. That’s like saying “movies” and “Battlefield Earth” are the same thing. True, you cannot have the latter without the former, but would we consider ridding our country of what is our only truly American art form, and arguably the most stunning art form of all time, in order to avoid the possibility of having to endure another god-awful Scientology-based Travolting science “fiction” celluloid turd?

Okay, bad example.

See, I have some experience with earmarks. A company I used to work for received federal funding via earmark.

Yes, we were one of those horrific wastes of taxpayer money, just like what McCain was chirping about!

Except we weren’t. We were a good use of taxpayer money. We were advancing technology in a much-needed area. We had enormous potential for good in the world. In fact, whenever I would tell people where I worked, and what we were attempting to do, they would inevitably say “Wow! Cool!”

But we could not get blood from the federal stone. For one thing, we couldn’t qualify for dollars under the pertinent agency’s crazy-ass, antiquated, say what?, pre-computer-age, red-tape-bound rules. Plus, our technology was in an area of science that BushCo didn’t quite, ah, believe in, shall we say? To say nothing of the fact that the administration was not a big fan of “science” in general. And so, because the executive branch dictates to the various agencies what kind of projects will get funded and which ones won’t, we wandered in the no-federal-dollar-havin’ wilderness for six long years.

It’s interesting to me that the Republicans, so hot against earmarks now that they aren’t (mostly) the ones who get to make them anymore, have decided that it’s the agency employees, the bureaucrats, who should decide where our dollars go, rather than our elected representatives. Because weren’t they just saying the other day that bureaucrats = bad?

In the case of my former company, we finally managed to convince our congressperson that we were worthy of a few bucks. And our congressperson managed to convince enough colleagues likewise. We were under some scrutiny for a while, but everyone eventually walked away saying “Okay. We get it. Set aside a few dollars of this agency’s budget specifically for these fucking dudes and their goddamn hippy idea.”

In other words, the system worked.

Now, don’t fill up my comments section with examples of pork, readers. I know what pork is, and I know we gots lots. Yes, the Democrats and the Republicans both are guilty of being influenced by contributions, and being motivated to bring home the bacon. Pork is bad. It is very, very bad. Pork is, much like its namesake, threatening to clog our arteries and stop our heart from beating.

But you know how you stop pork? Ban private contributions for candidates to elected office. Yup, make every candidate taxpayer-funded.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to fund some stupid redneck moron whose only achievement in the entire span of his years on earth is that he managed to collect the signatures of 10,000 mall zombies to get on the ballot?

Tough shit. If you don’t pay for the moron’s campaign, you pay for the people that paid for the campaign. And guess what? They’re about 410 billion times more expensive, fools.

So why, if earmarks are not really the problem, is McCain ceaselessly telling us that they are?

I dunno. Maybe because, after his post-Keating 5 “reformer” makeover, this is the one, simple, tangible thing he can explain to his legions of simple-minded fans. Maybe he thinks “Earmarks, bad!” is as complicated a concept as a dude like Joe the Pretend Plumber can grasp.

Or maybe, like he admitted to us over a year ago, the “issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”

All I can say is, even if you think Obama is bad, even if you think he is out-and-out EVIL, you must now, really, no kidding anymore, finally, finally admit that as far as the last election goes, he was, hands down, the lesser evil.


Dad E said...

The Rudebandit has a nice post on this subject.

Dad E said...

I meant Rude Pundit.

Marshall said...

Great post Vikki! been wanting an education on this for years. Thank you!

vikkitikkitavi said...

DadE: You didn't say, but perhaps you meant this one:

Marshall: Thanks, and now this interesting fact: of the 35 Senators who voted against the legislation yesterday, 28 of them had inserted earmarks into it.

Yay, hypocrisy!

dguzman said...

That's why I call it The Crapitol.

Anonymous said...

Damn straight. Public funding of elections is way to go.