John McCain stands as a vocal critic of wasteful government spending. In particular he’s decried the earmark system.
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, perhaps not so much. As Mayor of Wasilla she didn’t fight against earmarks, but fought for them, about $27 million of them. Yet, she says that she’s against earmarks.
Typical political double-speak? More of the same politics we’ve come to love and adore? Say one thing, do another?
As Mayor of Wasilla should Palin have stood on ideological belief and turned down federal money that could help her community? The very community that she’d been elected to help?
Well, there’s even more. The money wasn’t just freely offered. Palin actively sought it. She hired a lobbying firm in Washington DC to lobby congress for the money. Does that sound like someone who’s against earmarks?
She certainly could have done nothing. Apparently no Wasilla mayor before her had ever lobbied congress for money. There was no requirement for her to do so. And, why didn’t Wasilla pay for these projects themselves?
Could the problem be that the federal government had already taken the money of the good people of Wasilla and Palin simply wanted it back?
Every year the federal government takes a bunch of money from us, through the income tax system and through corporate taxes.
If I make bicycles I have to pay a percentage of my corporate income to the federal government. So, when I sell you a bike I have to add a hundred dollars or so to the price to cover these taxes. If you pay $300 for a video game, NOT including any taxes added on, consider that about $50 of that goes to the federal government. The manufacturer, distributor, and retailer all have to pay corporate taxes to the federal government. As do all of their suppliers such as the trucking company that brought it to the store and the janitorial company that cleans the store every night.
Now, some of this money goes to legitimate federal government activities such as national defense. Some of it though, an estimated 40%, is given back to us (the states, counties, and cities) through redistribution. Redistribution though is expensive. It takes a lot of people to manage a system like this. Efficient it’s not. So rather than a dollar being taken from us and then given back to us, a dollar is taken from us, 40 cents is lopped off the top to cover the costs of taking it, giving it back, and monitoring our use of it, and so at best maybe 60 cents actually gets used for any real benefit.
Benefit? Yeah, me too. Rather than us deciding locally what we want to do with our money and how it will serve us best, a bunch of folks a few thousand miles away and who have probably never set foot in our community are deciding for us. Worse, they may not give any of it back to us, instead giving a double or triple portion to someone else.
So, the sad fact is, the federal government has already taken our money and one of the best ways to get it back is through the earmark system. It is the system that is in place. It’s ugly. It’s inefficient. It’s wasteful. It doesn’t serve us. But – It is.
Is a mayor of Wasilla, Alaska really in a position to do anything to change the system? Should she have stood by and let others get their money back and not fought to get the money back that the people of Wasilla had had taken from them? Just let that money go to someone else for a midnight basketball program?
Did the citizens of Wasilla elect her to fight the myriad of problems of our federal government or was she elected to, within the system currently in place, help make Wasilla the place that the residents wanted it to be? Is it double-speak to use the accepted system currently in place when you’re under it, but to turn around and scrap it when you’re in a position to do so?
In addition to the earmarks themselves, one question that may need to be addressed is if there was anything inappropriate in Palin’s hiring of the lobby firm, namely, were there any kickbacks to members of congress or others in return for getting Wasilla all of those nice funds.