I had a most interesting Monday morning (I guess interesting is as good an adjective as any.) Anyway, I had the opportunity to attend a hearing on the direction of funding for transportation in the United States. It was chaired by the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, who happens to be my congressman, John Mica.
The panel hosting the hearings included three Democrats and two Republicans, so I guess you could say it was bi-partisan. Although, definitely not non-political. One of the Democrat panelists couldn’t help getting in a dig in at Governor Rick Scott’s veto of the high speed rail proposal for Florida. Governor Scott is against the billion-dollar boondoggle because he believes that ultimately the taxpayers of Florida will end up footing the bill; over and over and over again. (On a side note, Congressman Mica has been pushing high-speed rail for many years now and his panel of “experts” were all in favor of his pet project. What kind of hearing is it where you only hear one side of the argument?)
Any reasonable person can look at the recent history of passenger rail systems in America and come to no other conclusion. Let me point to Amtrak. Last year, it lost $32 per passenger. Or how about The Sunset Limited, which travels between New Orleans and Los Angeles? It lost $462 per passenger. The government, rather you and I, subsidize these failing operations. Yet, these folks want more failures so they can squander more of our hard-earned money.
The Congressperson in favor of said squandering and that belittled our governor was none other than Corinne Brown-Democrat, Jacksonville. Her district flows from Northeast Florida to Orlando. A gerrymandered district any corrupt politician would love. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ms. Brown, she is the lady of fame that requested the city of Jacksonville public works employees place sandbags around her home to protect if from rising floodwaters (when the city had no plans to place sandbags at anyone’s home.) At no cost to her I might add.
In her opening statement, she wondered aloud how Governor Scott could reverse direction on the rail proposal simply because of an election. Well, Ma’am (if I can use the term) let me quote another politician who changed the direction of a nation because of an election. He simply said “We won!” But I guess winning means never having to say you’re sorry (unless you’re a Republican.)
Knowing Ms. Brown’s penchant for sticking her foot in her mouth, this piqued my interest and I was suddenly aroused from the ennui that had already set in. I quickly remembered her statement about gerrymandering (the politically influenced method that creates biased elections and created the meandering district that allows her to belch inanely from the House of Representatives.)
“Do you know who Gerry Mandering was?” She related during an interview on a local radio station. “He was a white legislator that had a lot of power,” she was quoted as saying. “And what we want to make sure is everybody has a fair opportunity to have representation in the United States Congress. In the House, the Senate, the city council and the school boards.” I didn’t know that city councils and school boards were part of the US Congress. But I guess that’s a minor point.
Gerry Mandering? Actually, Elbridge Gerry was a Massachussetts Gov. and former U.S. Vice President, who in 1812 signed a law that created a district that was said to look like a salamander. Thus, the term gerrymander came into our lexicon.
Ms. Brown was awarded a Specialist in Education degree from the University of Florida. Don’t you just love it when higher education pays off? That makes me want to look harder at my daughter’s diploma since she graduated from UF.
As the Congresswoman continued her diatribe to convince the crowded hall of numb constituents that she actually knew what she was talking about, she said something that made my nose hairs curl. In making her case for high-speed rail, she said (and I quote) “For every billion dollars the federal government spends, it creates 44,000 jobs.” Now I let that sink in for all of four seconds before I said to myself, “WHAT?”
So I thought, hmm, if the government can create 44,000 jobs from a cool billion dollars, how many jobs could it create with 787 of those freshly printed, but worthless billions? Since I didn’t have a calculator with me, I was forced to do a little quick math in my now pulsing brain. Let’s see, 44,000 times 787. Why that means that the government could have created 34,000,000+ jobs from that economic “stimulus” passed just months after President Obama took office. Now the last time I checked we had roughly 14,000,000 unemployed. That means we could actually make room for twenty million more illegal immigrants to come in and work. It’s a win, win for everyone!
But now that my brain is starting to boil over from all those zeroes, I have to wonder: We still have close to 10% unemployment so how exactly does arithmetic work in Washington; or at least in Congresswoman Brown’s mind. Because the numbers don’t add up. Except, of course, in The Land of Make Believe.