Monday, November 21, 2005

Bittersweet Victories and Killing Trees

I posted a letter I emailed to pretty much everyone I know a while back detailing my support for the Coburn Amendment, which was subsequently defeated by legislators interested in securing thier own future and present pork projects. Sen. Tom Cobrun (R-OK) tried to call attention to Congress' irresponsible spending by proposing to reallocate transportation bill money from a bridge to Gravinas Island in Alaska (pop. 50) for land development and tourism purposes, to a bridge in Louisiana that had been damaged in hurricane Katrina.

Well, Coburn appears to have acheived a half-victory. Alaska's king fo bringing hoem the bacon, Ted Stevens, pulled the $230 million project "announcing that he was taking this 'drastic action' because his state had been 'so unfairly maligned in the national press' in recent weeks," according to the OpinionJournal today. The Journal editorial board puts it much more eloquently than I could (login may be required), but from my perspective this is hardly a victory, since the money will stay in Alaska for other projects. They may as well have just built the bridge, if Alaska still gets the money. How about refunding that money to the taxpayers? Maybe a Constitutional amendment repealing the Sixteenth Amendment? Just thought I'd ask.

This is as good an arguement as any against having large withholding on your W-2 throughout the year, just so you can get a huge taw refund in April. Income tax is not a savings plan! If you put that money in a plain old savings account and ignore it and accrue five dollars in interest, you'll still be putting it to better use the your government will ever manage. It doesn't matter if that money had been spent on either bridge, it's still blatant waste. Tom Coburn called attention to a broken system using half-measures and came out looking like a hero. Now the bridge is gone and all is right with the world, isn't it?

And now for something completely different, I've recently obtained an essentially free subscription to the Wall Street Journal (Monday-Saturday). Everytime I decide to receive a daily paper, I realize how little time I actually have. Who really has time to read a newspaper everyday? People whose job it is to know things, I suppose. For me, I'm an interested news junkie, but it's a hobby. The Internet works much better for targeting the stories a guy like me wants to read than a newspaper can do. I think there's something to that. I don't want my newspaper dumbed down, I just want it easy and fast. So far I've had the subscription one week and I've only not read one paper (two if you count today's that I haven't gotten to yet). Now that I get the Wall Street Journal, I love getting the paper again (used to get the New York Times, the Providence Journal and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but came to really hate reading them), but I have a heck of a time finding time to get through it.

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