There’s been a lot of fuss over whether or not congressmen should be sending Merry Christmas messages. The debate has missed the point. It’s not about keeping Christ in Christmas, something of which I wholeheartedly approve, but about how Congresscritters spend your money (or the money they’ve borrowed for you children to pay back). Rep. Jeff Flake really hits the nail on the head in this article in the Wall Street Journal today:
Members of Congress can, of course, extend any holiday wishes they desire on a personal basis: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanzaa or even, with a nod to George Costanza, Happy Festivus. Members of Congress just can’t use taxpayer dollars to send these season’s greetings if extending such greetings “is the primary purpose of the communication.”
This is a good thing. Do you really need to pay for Congressman X’s awkward family photo featuring a dozen grandchildren and the family dog in matching sweaters with the U.S. Capitol photoshopped into the background?
As Representative Flake explains, they do this all year round. That Facebook ad for my useless representative Gerry Connolley that appears every time I load up the page? I’m paying for it!
It’s not just our federal “public servants” ripping us off for their own benefit, of course. Local government officials are equally adept. A quick look around the local D.C. press always finds plenty of stories about the everyday abuse of the taxpayer by those who are supposed to be working for us. Here are two examples from today. In the first, a member of the Maryland governor’s redistricting committee has been found guilty of $4 million worth of tax evasion. In the second, also in Maryland, an audit found that 61 state employees who had been “terminated with prejudice” by the state Department of Transportation had been hired by other state agencies. These stories are regrettably typical. And yet we still can’t cut public spending in real terms.
So if there’s anyone you know still in denial about the outrageous state of our so-called public services, or who wants to know more about the abuse that government officials perpetrate in our name and to their benefit, I have a perfect last-minute gift for them: Stealing You Blind: How Government Fatcats Are Getting Rich Off of You.