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  1. #1
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    Money

    DH and I had a friend over last night and I was shocked to hear him tell us that the government passed a bill and an island in Alaska with a population of about 50 people will get a $220 million bridge. I didn't believe him, I really didn't. Just got done doing some searching and found the following information.

    Congress has passed SAFETEA-LU - that's short for a mouthful: Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act-Legacy for Users.

    $286.4 billion spending plan for the nation's roads, bridges and transit through 2008.
    More at link - Post-Gazette.com

    Alaska's Gravina Island is home to 50 people and more than 350 Sitka black-tailed deer. Under the U.S. highway bill passed last month, this group will get a $223 million bridge taller than the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
    More at link – Bloomberg.com

    A second “Bridge to Nowhere” will connect Gravina Island (population: 50) with the Alaskan mainland. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) secured $220 million for this boondoggle. The cost of building the 5.9 mile bridge would be enough to buy every island resident a Lear jet.
    More at link – Citizens Against Government Waste

    2003
    $273,000 grant to help the city of Blue Springs, Missouri, understand Goth culture better
    $90,000 for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum in Fort Worth, Texas

    2004
    $3,000,000 for the First Tee Program in Florida, which encourages young people to learn golf
    $240,000 for potato storage research in Madison, Wisconsin
    $200,000 for recreation in North Pole, Alaska
    More at link – 3 pages - timesonline.co.uk
    You're telling me my tax dollars are going to enourage youngsters to golf, for potato storage research, and for Cowgirl Hall of Fame museums??? I'm shocked, I really am. I know I've always been very naive when it comes to politics, but I just really had no idea... $273,000 to one city to try to learn how to understand the Goth culture better?!?! Are they serious?!?!?!?!



    As was widely reported following the passage of SAFETEA-LU, the bill contained more than 6,000 earmarks. Many of these became objects of national ridicule, thanks to the national media, and rightly so because they had little to do with building necessary transportation infrastructure. But today, in the face of Katrina’s vast destruction, these earmarks are no laughing matter when their funding could be redirected to begin to rebuild the infrastructure of the Gulf States. As Congress considers the vast suffering in Louisiana, is it possible that Richmond, Indiana, could give up its $3 million dollar hiking trail? Could Newark, New Jersey pass on its $2 million earmark for Waterfront Pedestrian and Bicycle Access? And can Hoboken, New Jersey, do likewise with the $8 million planned for its Waterfront Walkway? What about the $3 million that Modesto, California, expects to get for its Rails to Trails program, the $5 million Bridgeport, Connecticut, grabbed for an Intermodal Transportation facility, the $5 million Delaware will get to improve the Auto Tour Route at the Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge, and the $6.5 million that state will receive for the Wilmington Train Station Restoration? In the face of genuine need, don’t these expensive projects seem comparatively frivolous?

    The earmarks go on and on like this, page after page in SAFETEA-LU. The more than 6,000 earmarks in it add up to nearly $25 billion in money that could now be better used for a more urgent purpose than flower gardens, replica sailing ships, and bus museums. Members of Congress may want these projects, but Katrina’s victims need the funding more.
    More at link - Heritage.org


    This topic makes me very angry - why wasn't more money appropriated to Louisianna years ago to strengthen the levees? It's more important to give 50+ people in Alaska a $200 million dollar bridge than it is to give that $200 million to the Gulf Coast to help in disaster prevention and relief??

    Surely we can take some of the money from this SAFETEA-LU bill that seems to be wasteful in light of this disaster, and put it towards fixing the levee system, re-building the cities that are decimated, and providing long-term relief to those affected and left homeless.

    Don't forget there was $12 million dollars approved in 1999 to STUDY the levee in NO that wasn't even scheduled to begin until 2006 - so there's another $12 million we can add to the recovery and relief efforts, right?!?!

    ETA quote and link regarding the $12 million study:
    The levees that protected the city from the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain were partially redesigned and rebuilt to withstand a Force 3 hurricane. The ten-year project to build them up to that level was launched in 1965, but is still incomplete after 40 years. The portion of the levee that collapsed, however, was one that had been completed. The city and state governments took a continuing gamble since the 1960s that no stronger storm would happen to strike New Orleans. Eventually, the city was bound to lose; it was only a matter of time. Some critics would like to blame the disaster on the recent reduction of federal funds to the Army Corps of Engineers, but funds have been declining for nearly a decade. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Congress in 1999 authorized the corps to conduct a $12 million study to determine how much it would cost to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane, but the study isn’t scheduled to get under way until 2006.”
    More at link - chronwatch.com
    Last edited by SieSie; 09-04-2005 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Added link
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    *My posts are my opinions, expressed freely thanks to the First Amendment.*

  2. #2
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    Here's some potato storage research, from an Idaho-raised gal:

    Dig a big hole underground, and put a roof on it. Put the potatoes under there. They'll keep.

    Free of charge.

    Our government seems to have some accountability issues, as to where our money is going.
    I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for pretending to be someone I'm not.

  3. #3
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    Thank you, Sie Sie. These are the things we as Americans should be aware of. We need to ask questions, and demand accountability from our leaders. The more we know, the better off we are.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dara
    Thank you, Sie Sie. These are the things we as Americans should be aware of. We need to ask questions, and demand accountability from our leaders. The more we know, the better off we are.
    Actually, I think I preferred living with my head stuck in the sand. The more I hear and learn, the angrier I get.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *My posts are my opinions, expressed freely thanks to the First Amendment.*

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SieSie
    Actually, I think I preferred living with my head stuck in the sand. The more I hear and learn, the angrier I get.
    Oh, I can relate. This is disheartening. But I've got to believe that arming ourselves with knowledge and remembering, not accepting revisionist history but remembering, will help. That continuing to ask "Why" and "How" and being as vocal as we can be about something as important as the unnecessary deaths of a great number of people will make a difference.

    Cver the past few days, when I've seen that asking questions and making appropriate criticisms are called "bashing" and expecting accountability from our elected officials, or really anything but blindly standing behind the president NO MATTER WHAT, is seen by some as unpatriotic, I realize why how we've gotten to be where we are now.

    And that has got to change. Let's keep the info flowing and give each other support as we learn more and more disturbing information.

  6. #6
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    What do you want to bet that some politician is getting rich off this $200mil bridge? We need to stop electing politicians and start electing real people. The politicians have turned our government into a business for their own profit. That's not what our forefathers fought for. IMO, the best thing that could come from this disaster is for the American people to take back their government.

  7. #7
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    Sie Sie, I'm adding a link to a commentary I felt raised some good questions, including the role a push toward privitization of services--among other things--played in the abysmal response. I chose this thread because privitization is in no small part an economic issue. If you think it doesn't belong, I'd be glad to delete/move it.

    For more than a decade, there has been constant applause for downsizing government. The Republican Party has made replacing government services with private initiatives its raison d'�tre. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush once crowed he longed for the day when we have no government agencies.

    That attitude has eroded public services, hamstrung regulatory safeguards, undercut public projects and discouraged many of the best and brightest from government service. We've made government a dirty word.

    That's wrong.

    There are things only government can do - and in a big nation it's a big list. It's law enforcement, health care, education, transportation, urban planning, emergency preparedness and environmental protection. Private industry exists to maximize profit and minimize cost. Government exists to serve the public good despite its cost.

  8. #8
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    I think more and more of us may be sticking our heads into the political pavillion from now on. Right now I am getting a headache just reading this crap.

  9. #9
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    SieSie, thanks for posting all that. It really is obscene

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mabel
    What do you want to bet that some politician is getting rich off this $200mil bridge? We need to stop electing politicians and start electing real people. The politicians have turned our government into a business for their own profit. That's not what our forefathers fought for. IMO, the best thing that could come from this disaster is for the American people to take back their government.
    You are so right- but it seems that the only ones running for office are career politicians.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by concernedperson
    I think more and more of us may be sticking our heads into the political pavillion from now on. Right now I am getting a headache just reading this crap.
    I hear ya about the headache, the more I learn, the angrier I get. I'm not sure I'm ready for the PP yet!! I wish I had all the answers, but I don't. I'm full of questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Casshew
    SieSie, thanks for posting all that. It really is obscene
    Isn't it, though? Horrendous, appalling, frivolous, ridiculous.... ugh. BTW, yw.

    Dara - thanks for the info. I don't care who posts what, where - as long as we're being informed, I think it's all good.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *My posts are my opinions, expressed freely thanks to the First Amendment.*

  12. #12
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    Bumping for PrayersforMaura

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dara
    Thank you, Sie Sie. These are the things we as Americans should be aware of. We need to ask questions, and demand accountability from our leaders. The more we know, the better off we are.
    Dara, I wholeheartedly agree. I just wish we knew how to make wide, sweeping changes. It's frustrating as hell. From local school board elections up to the fed gov't...there is corruption, special interest, favoritism, "what's in it for me - or my buddies" - mentality. I think even many good-intentioned people run for office, having the intent to change things, shake things up, and then when they get in there, things can get off track because of different pressures, favors, etc. It's sad, really. And I do think those that are career politicians are often the absolute worst. They've been out of touch with reality for joe citizen for way too long.

    And yet, I'd still rather live here than anywhere else. We can hope, hope that some changes and more accountability come into play after this. This had damn sure be a wake-up call.

    ETA: I should have put my "IMO" since I'm even accusing "some" school board members of being corrupt, LOL
    Last edited by DEPUTYDAWG; 09-07-2005 at 11:29 AM. Reason: ETA

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SieSie
    Actually, I think I preferred living with my head stuck in the sand. The more I hear and learn, the angrier I get.
    Yes, the ignorance is bliss, but it only works for so long.

    I actually stayed (somewhat) interested in the new Transportation Bill for two years, because many years ago, I worked for a company that sold highway safety products. Much of the sales were for, obviously, highway constructions products, supported by federal highway funds. I didn't work in the Sales side, so I am not an expert on this, but IIRC, the contract would be awarded to a state, of which a certain % is matched by the federal $. So, since the Highway Bill expired about 2 years ago, funds started drying up, and states would put construction on hold, because they wouldn't get matching federal funds.

    That's all great and fine, but knowing how many proposals came from Congressmen and Senators that were really just "helping my constituants - read Buddy- back in my District" that were true pork barrel type projects (or should I say POTATO instead), it makes ya sick. Since I did follow it somewhat over the last 2 years, I will say a lot of the delay was Bush's threat to veto, to cut the massive bill down, trying to get rid of a lot of the POTATO barrel projects out, but obviously not all! I think, IIRC, the original proposal was about $350 billion, and it passed at $287 billion.

    Read more, and you'll just get even sicker.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DEPUTYDAWG
    Dara, I wholeheartedly agree. I just wish we knew how to make wide, sweeping changes. It's frustrating as hell. From local school board elections up to the fed gov't...there is corruption, special interest, favoritism, "what's in it for me - or my buddies" - mentality. I think even many good-intentioned people run for office, having the intent to change things, shake things up, and then when they get in there, things can get off track because of different pressures, favors, etc. It's sad, really. And I do think those that are career politicians are often the absolute worst. They've been out of touch with reality for joe citizen for way too long.

    And yet, I'd still rather live here than anywhere else. We can hope, hope that some changes and more accountability come into play after this. This had damn sure be a wake-up call.
    I agree. I would rather live here, too. I love my country. And it's so discouraging to see croynism, etc, as you point out, at every level. I said in the political forum that we have to remember this disaster and demand answers and accountability because we love this country and want it to be great.

    We're all talking about the old articles about Brown's appointment being inappropriate and the levees being weak and on and on. Today we are and tomorrow we will be reading the stories that outraged citizens will be posting and debating about some future disaster if we don't take action (sadly, possibly even if we do). Did we all read the articles about the weak levees and the refusal of the government to pay for fixing them and articles about these ridiculous expenditures, cluck or swear, then turn the page? Did we know Bush was appointing buddies and shrug it off because we're just one person? Did we read the many articles that Brown give $31 million dollars in hurricane to an area not hit by a hurricane and distribute funeral benefits when no one died and not say, "Hey, wait, this guy is in charge of FEMA. What the heck happens when it's lives at stake, not just money?" Why didn't we see that and band together and demand a better man for a job that can impact every American life?

    I think we can make changes. Look at what happened with Cindy Sheehan. Not from a partisan view. Strictly as an example. She is one woman who may have started a movement that may affect change. Look at how John Walsh took a tragedy and helped saved missing children. I know that doesn't sound political, but he's impacted public policy. There are examples of one person starting an agent for tremendous change. It can be done. We've got a lot of new sources. We've got the Internet to rally folks. We've got good people. I think we just need to remember that we knew about most of the factors that worsened this disaster and we did little or nothing. I'm going to be better informed and really think about what I'm reading and hearing on the news. Consider what the ramifications are in way I never have before and make sure I act. At least I'm going to try.

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