Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ending federal waste begins at home

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain            
                   And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet 
                              When the wind comes right behind the rain. 
               From Oklahoma, the Broadway musical 
Anyone caught up in the compelling four-hour two- episode Ken Burns PBS documentary, The Dust Bowl,   would quickly realize  that upbeat Broadway  musicals sometimes get it wrong.  Watching the towering black walls of dirt slam into the Oklahoma's panhandle and a wide expanse of the plains around it  could only draw us directly into the myths of humanity that we can win the battles with  nature by ignoring its power to destroy.

The gleaming wheat fields drew farmers and speculators to  recklessly plow up the soil for even greater profits,  skinning the land that turned into pulverized soil. Drought and the high winds across the plains soon conquered the  people, their crop lands and the livestock with sand dunes reaching above  the windows of the desperate homesteaders' meager homes.  An estimated 850 million tons of topsoil were blown away in 1935.  Next came the pitiful migration to California of  broken Okies.

As the film noted, the people were sturdy, independent folks who  had no use for government.  Any thought of calling upon Washington for aid was met by some critics as "socialistic".  But as a succession of dirt storms in the 1930s  battered the spirit of  the deeply troubled  residents, the federal government moved in to salvage whatever was still possible.  It was the driving determination of President Roosevelt,  while also battling the  Great Depression,  to deliver the goods, which he did with the creation of various agencies, the WPA, CCC and various other alphabet programs along with the Soil Conservation Service, all adding up to thousands of newly employed "responders" to
America's worst environmental tragedy.

Right. Socialism.  Sound familiar, particularly in such once-darkened "red" states that today are staunchly anti-government.

And what timing for Oklahoma's  Republican governor  Mary Fallin to declare her opposition to  Obamacare's expansion of health service to the poor,  while rejecting outright the creation of a health insurance exchange,  which has become a fashionable - if hypocritical - refusal by many Republican governors these days.

Her decision not  to obey the health-care rules flies directly into the face of the great amounts of federal farm subsidies to Oklahoma politicians.   A study by the the Tulsa World newspaper in 2011 revealed;
"Roughly two dozen state lawmakers - some who have railed against government spending - have collected  federal farm subsidies in recent years, either directly or through payments to spouses, a Tulsa World investigation found."
And who has collected $1.96 million  in federal farm subsidies since 1995?   Would it shock you to learn that her husband, Wade Christensen, an Oklahoma City lawyer,  was a the recipient?

The Tulsa World  quoted a couple of lines  from Gov. Fallin's  2011 State of the State speech in which she declared:
"When hard times hit, the public expects a leaner, more efficient government...I'm challenging our citizens and our government employes:  Help me find more places to save money and cut waste."    
Guv, I know where you can start.

NOTE: My column on where Josh Mandel can go from here has been posted on Plunderbund

No comments: