Shock and appall campaign a success

June 20, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

Stop me if you've heard this one before. The government tries to solve a big problem by throwing a big chunk of money at it, and things don't work out exactly as it planned.

Federal investigators reported last week that as much at $1.4 billion in disaster aid to hurricane victims was - what's the word? I was going to say "wasted," but then $200 bottles of champagne and trips to Hooters can hardly be considered a "waste," can they?

I mean, as government spending goes, that's almost rational. In a nation where you can spend $50 million on a bridge to an island that's home to about 10 people, suddenly that $200 Dom Perignon seems like the greatest value that ever was.

Ditto the federal disaster cash that was spent on everything from season football tickets to "Girls Gone Wild" videos.

You have to look at things in relative terms. For every tax dollar spent on smut, that's one tax dollar not spent on blowing someone up or paying some NSA hack to paw through your private phone records.


And look, if you have spent the last three days sitting on your chimney and all your possessions are basting in a mud and mold marinade, safe to say you've had a bad week. If, after all that, dude wants to kick back watching "Girls Gone Wild" on my dime, I say, knock yourself out.

The politicians, of course, were shocked and appalled.

"It's shocking and appalling," said Rep. Michael McCaul.

Appalled maybe, but shocked? How stupid do you have to be to be shocked? The government makes multiple screw-ups that a.) fail to prevent the disaster in the first place and b.) fail to respond to it when it does.

And when the public is outraged at the incompetence, the president and Congress tries to make up for it by dumping $6 billion in everyone's lap with zero accountability.

And they're shocked? They're shocked when every money-smelling shyster in the nation gets a whiff of the green and tries to cash in? They're shocked? Boy, the sun rising this morning must have really knocked their socks off.

Who knew? Old Cookie tumbles out of the chuck wagon banging his triangle and yelling "$6 billion, come and get it," and people take advantage. No one but the most sophisticated graduate of Harvard Law could have seen that coming. Next you're going to tell me that gambling money might be a target for organized crime.

Shocked. What member of Congress or the administration could be so stupid as to admit to being shocked?

According to The New York Times, "In one case, a man stayed more than two months on the government tab at a hotel in Hawaii that cost more than $100 a night. At the same time, he was getting $2,358 in government rent assistance, even though he had not been living in the property he claimed was damaged in the storm."

And all we can do is complain about this? Instead of sitting around on our hands being appalled, we need to take immediate action. We need to elect this man to Congress, because obviously he is a lot more innovative of a thinker than any of our current models.

For one thing, he is able to find a hotel in Hawaii for $100 a night. That's pretty impressive right there. Second, it shows fiscal responsibility and restraint. All the hotels on the islands that easily run five bills a night or more, and he is willing to settle for less.

Already, I consider this gentleman to be a better steward of my tax dollars than any of the people who now hold office. Face it, when one of our congressmen goes grafting off on some "fact-finding mission" in the tropics, do you think he will be satisfied staying in some glorified Motel 6?

So I find this "system abuser" to be a man I can trust and a man of intelligence. And consider, if someone gets snookered, who is smarter, the person who snookers or the person who is snooked?

This, then, is our problem. This civilian should be in Congress and our congressmen should be civilians. Indeed, if only we were a population comprised entirely of congressmen, there would be no fraud and no abuse of the system.

They wouldn't be smart enough to pull it off.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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