I watched with repulsion mixed with fascination as the “hearing” on immigration began with a performance by Steven Colbert. John Conyers, someone with whom I don’t normally agree (who can forget his famous mocking ”Read the bill? Read the Bill?” tirade?), asked Mr. Colbert to leave and I hoped we would be spared the embarrassment of watching our elected leaders fawn over yet another celebrity who brought nothing to the debate except a monumental ego and a performance that was not even remotely funny. I saw an estimated cost of over $125,000 to bring the Colbert Show to Congress. I am sure when you add up salaries, technology, etc., it was easily that. Already I have seen columns defending the hearing saying it really didn’t cost that much, and we should all lighten up. We need a sense of humor. Well, I admit I don’t find anything about this charade funny. It is just another example of Congress spending our money, yours and mine, as if it came from the tooth fairy. The central issue for me, and I think a lot of other Americans is, no one is adding up the cost.
Here is how some of your stimulus dollars have or are being spent: $1 million for covered garages for bicycles in Portland, $200,000 for tattoo removal in Southern California, $11 million to build a bridge between two adjacent Microsoft Headquarters buildings (wait, I hadn’t heard Microsoft was in financial difficulty) $578,661 for solving the homeless problem in Union, New York (they didn’t ask for the money and don’t have a homeless problem), $2.2 million for skylights in a Montana state-run liquor store, $650 million for the digital television converter box coupons (does anyone know anyone who used one of these?), $160 million for “Paid Volunteers” (I used to call that a job) at the Corporation for National and Community Service, $554,763 for new windows for the closed Mt. St. Helens Visitors Center, $762,272 for “Draw Dance” Interactive Software, 3.8 million for a “streetscaping” project that reduced traffic and caused businesses to fire two employees, $200,000 to help Siberian communities lobby the Russian government (I feel really good about this one), $700,000 to find out why monkeys respond negatively to inequity, $193,956 to study voter perceptions of the economic stimulus (hmmmm, wonder what they found), $363,760 to help the National Institutes of Health promote the positive impacts of stimulus projects. I really could go on. And on. And on. But as I add each futile dollar spent that did not create anything more than a few very temporary jobs and a lot of animosity, I feel my spirits sinking. So I will stop.
Now I don’t work for the CBO, so my figures may be off, but that all added up to $831,553,852, without the Colbert appearance. I have heard many pundits, including so-called conservative pundits, call some of these projects things like chump change, an amount so trivial we shouldn’t even care if it was thrown into a volcano. That mindset is dangerous and directly responsible for our country’s financial woes. I care, you care. We want representatives who care.
I resent every penny spent to bring a comedian to provide mock testimony before Congress. It made a mockery of our Government, it was disrespectful, and it was insulting to a group of people who lead unimaginable lives of poverty and desperation. In fact, I demand that Steven Colbert provide a check to the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury reimbursing the government for his compliance in one of the most ridiculous displays of stupidity yet seen in the hallowed halls of Congress.
It’s just 37 days until the most critical election in our collective lifetime. You really can vote out stupid. Tell your friends, remind your family, Vote.
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