Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

09 September 2008

Obama on Earmarks

Barack Obama is now criticizing Sarah Palin for hiring a lobbyist to obtain earmarks for the town of Wasilla when she was its mayor.

She responded that she was surprised that he chose to open this line of criticism, because in his three years in the Senate, Senator Obama authored more than $1 billion worth of earmarks. He managed to produce about $1 million of earmarks a day. This is a very connected man, who no doubt greased many a campaign contribution with an earmark or more. He must have been unusually committed to the earmark game to have produced so many.

According to Obama's Senate website, he has requested 330 earmark projects since joining the Senate in January 2005 through the end of 2007, which total $931.3 million. He has said he is not making any earmark requests this year, but he had apparently already made requests for $91 million worth this year before he stopped making earmark requests. He joined Sens. DeMint and McCain in co-sponsoring an earmark moratorium for the year. The $931.3 million is about $1.2 million per working day, assuming that the Senate actually works 5 days out of every 7 during the year, which it does not. In fact, Sen. Obama has not cast a Senate vote since 9 July.

Senator Joe Biden is still seeking earmarks and has been successful in getting more than $90 million so far this year.

In two years as governor, Palin sought 83 federal earmarks at a cost of $453 million according to the Anchorage Daily News. But, she also vetoed more local projects than any other governor in the state's history. She cut Alaska's federal earmark requests from 52 projects for $256 million in her first year as governor to 31 projects totalling $197 million this year. Alaska has long been addicted to them and Sen. Stevens and Congressman Young have been masterful in delivering them to the state. In March, the Anchorage Daily News reported that "Sen. Ted Stevens is aggravated about what he sees as Gov. Sarah Palin's antagonism toward the earmarks he uses to steer federal money to the state." She also opposed Rep. Don Young by encouraging her Lt. Gov. to run against him in his re-election.

One of the left's favorite criticisms of Palin is that she is so good at bringing in earmarks that per resident of Alaska the amount of earmark money is much higher than that received in Illinois per resident. This is the revenge that the low population states with two Senators get on the commonly unlimited-government-favoring large population states. The Democrat and more socialist states impose a socialist federal government upon the low-population, more free-market states without thinking through the consequences that come from the equal state representation in the Senate. If government were small, this "unfair" advantage of the low-population states would not matter, but because of the greater pressure for big government from the higher-population states, a disproportionate part of all federal monies goes to the residents of the low-population states. Sarah Palin, whom the Democrats would like to picture as naive and simple, if she is responsible for the Alaska income from the federal budget, is more wily than they are. In reality, Sen. Stevens and Rep. Young, are the primary cause of much federal money going to Alaska.

Gov. Palin was in favor of the bridge from Ketchikan to its airport on Gravina Island which was expected to cost $223 million while campaigning for the governorship, but its cost escalated to $398 million and she reviewed the situation with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and decided that there were better ways to spend the money. Meanwhile the Senate was given the chance to stop the Bridge to Nowhere and transfer it to Katrina rebuilding, but Sens. Obama and Biden voted for the $223 million earmark to go toward building the bridge anyway. We are still waiting for them to apologize for approving that earmark in which they sided with the good ol'boys Senate network.

Obama exposes himself as a simple-minded cookie, while Palin is a sharp cookie cutter.

Of course, we should have principled, limited government which legislates in a considered, open, and rational manner. Our Congress believes in none of this. This is why we have unprincipled, unlimited, ill-considered, hidden, and highly irrational government. In such a hideous environment, the people of a small town will want to get some of their federal tax money sent back their way, however inefficiently and wastefully, by joining the fight for earmarks. This is the cost of unprincipled, unlimited government.

We must all try very hard to demand that every level of government operate to allow the inalienable right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is done by limiting the scope of government by applying strictly maintained principles among all voters and government officials. Palin, to her credit, is clearly a much greater champion of this kind of principled government than is Obama. She appears to be moving in the right direction, while he appears to do the right thing only after McCain has put him under pressure to do so and the polls make it clear that the voters are responding to McCain. Note the way Obama keeps backing off slowly on additional taxes, following McCain on foreign policy issues, backing off on his use of earmarks, and lately favoring off-shore oil drilling.

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