Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congressional Democrats and a Hong Kong Newsstand

When we lived in Hong Kong in the 90s, each day my wife visited the same newsstand in the Citibank Building and bought the same exact thing: a Wall Street Journal and a cup of coffee. Each day, the proprietor would short change her. My wife would vigorously complain, and he would give her the rest of her change. It was a daily ritual.

What was striking, though, was the lack of embarrassment or shame. This guy didn't even pretend that it was an innocent mistake. He quite rationally calculated that the worst that could happen was that he'd have to give back the rest of the change. He also calculated that once in a while my wife would either not notice or be in too much of a hurry to care.

His plan was completely logical, but it only worked assuming he didn't mind being known as a thief.

As so you have today's Congressional Democrat. The pretense is gone - no more pretending that they are anything better than the thieving Chinese news vendor.

I speak, of course, about the new omnibus spending bill. It is the Mount Everest of pork. The kind of stuff voters quite specifically - loudly - rejected a month ago. It's like Democrats have been told to go on a diet but the diet doesn't start for a few days, so their faces are in the trough today.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • $277,000 for potato pest management in Wisconsin
  • $246,000 for bovine tuberculosis in Michigan and Minnesota
  • $522,000 for cranberry and blueberry disease and breeding in New Jersey
  • $500,000 for oyster safety in Florida
  • $349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina
  • $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama
  • $247,000 for virus free wine grapes in Washington
  • $208,000 for beaver management in North Carolina
  • $94,000 for blackbird management in Louisiana
  • $165,00 for maple syrup research in Vermont
  • $235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada
  • $100,000 for Edgar Allen Poe cottage visitor’s center in New York
  • $300,000 for the Polynesian voyaging society in Hawaii
  • $400,000 for solar parking canopies and plug-in electric stations in Kansas
  • $720,000 to compensate ranchers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan whenever endangered wolves eat their cattle

They have no shame, and they reason, just like the news vendor, that they can wear down Republican law makers and the general public. After all, it's worked pretty consistently in the past. And it's the holiday season. Perhaps the tea partiers are busy with other things, or worn out from fighting a new front almost every week.

It's a good strategy, as long as you don't mind people knowing you're a thief.

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