Sunday, July 29, 2012

Divided We Fall

By Lynn Costello

There is a prevailing political ideology which for decades has defined each of us by our differences with the goal of eventually achieving “social justice” for all.   The specificity of these differences has resulted in categories that become almost multiple-choice.  Where does a black, gay woman fit into these groupings?

When the 2010 census asked people to classify themselves by race, more than 21.7 million went beyond the standard labels and wrote their own definition.  More than three million write-ins came from white and black Americans who found the standard race categories insufficient. 

Nor is it just race or ethnicity - we also define ourselves by gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and the haves versus the have-nots. Once divided, the battle begins as opportunistic politicians pit one group against another. Government aid is used to assist one group over another, hate crimes are written to protect one group over another and quotas are established to favor one group over another.

French economist Frederic Bastiat, wrote that “law is justice” and that justice is achieved when injustice is prevented.  Is it just to bring favor to one and not another?  If justice is blind, shouldn’t we all be “seen” as individuals each created equal?  After all, united we stand; divided we fall. 

Monday, July 9, 2012


In 2010 the electorate for the most part was seeking citizen legislators, not politicians.  Legislators who would work for what they said they believed:  limited, accountable government.  The record after two years is disappointing.

Never to see the light of day were a number of bills the Republican majority in the House of Representatives passed, only to languish in the Democratic-controlled Senate.  When it counted most though our hopes were dashed as political expediency once again prevailed.

Each bill offers up crumbs to be brought home and held up proudly as evidence of positive representation and service to the constituency.   The bad things they say “would have been worse had we not been there to moderate the effects.”

An example is the recently passed highway bill, known as HR 4348, “To provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund pending enactment of a multiyear law reauthorizing such programs, and for other purposes.”

What they said they would do:

We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with “must-pass” legislation.  We will advance major legislation one issue at a time.

What they did:

The 27-month transportation bill includes a 5-year flood insurance extension and a one year extension of subsidized student loans.

What they said they would do:

“Read the bill” and post legislation for 72 hours prior to a vote?

What they did:

Indicating a lack of resolve, significant bills are routinely passed just as members are leaving town.  With over 1300 pages, reading is unlikely and posting for 72 hours is impossible.

What they said they would do:

            Reduce the deficit and pay-as-you go.

What they did:

The bill pays for 27 months of road funding with ten years of budget savings and revenue measures which include dipping into the general fund and exposing taxpayers to liability for under-funded pension plans.  In another two years, this process will be repeated to continue funding the Highway Transportation Fund.

What they said they would do:

            Work toward reducing the size and scope of government.

What they did:

By reauthorizing subsidized student loans, the day of any reductions in government over-reach is postponed.

The first steps toward limited government may be the most difficult, but if you don’t take them you will never get there.  Fifty-two Republicans took those first steps by voting “no” on this extravagant bill.

It’s not always an easy task to stand firmly on principles.  There are times when you will stand alone and times when you will fail.  I am human therefore I know I will fail and when I do, I hope I will learn from my mistake and do better the next time.  What I hope I will not do is convince myself that what I did was right; for it is then that I lose everything and the ground beneath me slides into the abyss.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Compromise is over-rated, even after long spells of gridlock in our Nation’s capital.  Jesse Helms said of compromise, “Compromise, hell!  ...If freedom is right and tyranny is wrong, why should those who believe in freedom treat it as if it were a roll of bologna to be bartered a slice at a time?”

The latest compromise being celebrated is the transportation bill passed just in time to allow elected officials to return home bringing the good news of jobs and money. There are a few good things in this bill and we will hear about these as well as the difficult work involved in reaching this successful outcome.

We won’t hear about the “other stuff” which is always part of the compromise ritual:

·         The fact that it pays for 27 months of road funding with ten years of budget savings and revenue measures;
·         Transferring money from the general fund which would be offset mostly by pension and flood insurance changes, increasing the risk to taxpayers of under-funded pension plans;
·         Creating new provisions not related to transportation;
·         Diverts highway transportation funds to costly and wasteful transit programs; and,
·         The never-ending accounting gimmicks and slippery surprises added when no one was looking.
Once again, kicking the can down the road or as Jesse Helms put it, “That’s what has happened to us all down the line – and that’s the very cause of our woes.”