The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current, March 19, 2009, Page Page 2, Image 2

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The INDEPENDENT, March 19, 2009
Published on the first and third Thursdays of each month by
The Independent, LLC, 725 Bridge St., Vernonia, OR 97064.
Phone/Fax: 503-429-9410.
Publisher Clark McGaugh,
Editor Rebecca McGaugh,
Mentor Noni Andersen
Printed on recycled paper with vegetable based dyes
What is a lot of money?
What is a lot of money? When I was a child, if I
worked real hard I might receive a dollar for my al-
lowance. To me, that was a lot of money. If you re-
ceived one hundred dollars tomorrow would it be a lot
of money? How about $500 or would it take $1,000?
Surely $10,000 would be a lot of money. It could help
pay for your ever increasing water/sewer and electric
bills, especially if, after years of providing skilled and
dedicated labor, you find yourself unemployed. Of
course, you have also faithfully paid your taxes
whether you wanted to or not, but then it does feel
good to know you’ve paid your fair share to keep our
government running.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a job where quality per-
formance didn’t matter and you could still receive a lot
of money, like the 73 employees of AIG that were paid
$1,000,000 (one million dollars) or the 293 employees
that had to make do with $58,460,000 (58 million, 460
thousand dollars) among them. What a great employ-
er to work for. Run your company into the ground and
then convince Congress that your company is “too big
to fail” and get $200,000,000,000 ($200 billion). Then
it’s party time. I wonder if they will send you a thank
you card. How did they convince Congress they de-
served such an obscene amount of wealth?
Meanwhile, Vernonia school district has had to hire
a lobbyist to talk to congressmen and senators to,
maybe, get some help and we’ll still have to pay for a
bond to replace schools destroyed in the Flood of
2007. Why does it take a lobbyist to get the govern-
ment to help its citizens? Wouldn’t you think since we
voted them into office and pay their salaries (and
healthcare) they could spare such a small amount
(compared to that $200 billion for AIG) as $40 million
for the schools and maybe $10 million for sewer. There
is the stimulus money that might help with the sewer
system, but only if it becomes “shovel ready” by Feb-
ruary 2010, then there will still be no guarantee we’ll
get those funds.
I’ll leave you with a quote that seems apropos…
“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the
United States are, first, the delusion among the poor
that we have a democracy, and second the chronic ter-
ror among the rich lest we get it.”
– Father Theodore Edward Dowling (1838-1920)
Anglican Priest and historian
Out of My Mind…
by Noni Andersen
Until recent publicity about how AIG spends
taxpayers’ money, the federal Omnibus Appro-
priations Act, finally passed by Congress and
signed by President Obama, was the cause du
jour for outrage over “earmarks.”
Worth about $410 billion, the bill funds nine
federal agencies that should have been, but
were not, funded last year under regular appro-
priations for fiscal year 2009.
But what are earmarks, and are they automat-
ically bad? Are they pork or are they needed
funding for important local projects?
An earmark is a funding appropriation insert-
ed in a House or Senate bill, preferably, one that
is likely to pass both houses of Congress. Ear-
marks are sometimes “stripped out” of a bill and
sometimes retained. No matter who is sponsor-
ing an earmark – one, several, even bipartisan
legislators – it is always represented as an im-
portant local project.
One recent example of pork was former Sen.
Ted Stevens’ infamous “bridge to nowhere,” an
earmark for a multi-milllion dollar bridge to serve
a handful of people. Of course, we also have
representatives and senators who get television
face time to rail loudly about earmarks while not
mentioning their own insertions.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-
KY) could serve as a model for that particular
type of hypocrite. He has been repeatedly on TV
proclaiming opposition to earmarks. Of course
he doesn’t mention his own solo $51 million in
earmarks, or the combined total of $140,482,257
in the 164 Congressional earmarks for Kentucky.
Not all earmarks are pork, however, and
many, probably most, really are for projects of lo-
cal importance that need help with funding. To
put earmarks into perspective, consider the fol-
lowing Columbia County earmarks in the Om-
nibus bill:
• $381,000 to replace essential school equip-
ment in the Vernonia School District that was
damaged or destroyed during the December
2007 flood. Funds will purchase equipment such
as computers, telephones, laboratory equip-
ment, chairs and desks, cafeteria equipment,
and chalkboards.
• $475,000 for reconstruction of the West Ore-
gon Electric Cooperative. One of the coopera-
tive’s distribution substations was destroyed dur-
ing the December 2007 flood. This money will
help construct a distribution substation outside
the floodplain and provide energy security to the
• $476,000 to be used for hospital planning,
construction, and infrastructure for building of
the Columbia River Community Hospital in St.
Helens, providing diagnostic equipment and a
full-time emergency room.
Other projects included in the Omnibus Ap-
propriations Act that are not in Columbia County,
but affect all Oregonians include the following:
• $200,000 for research in protecting weak
salmon stock
• $444,000 for research on environmental and
Please see page 3