The Wall Street Journal ran a front page story today on the U. S. Congress and the leaders in pork spending. The biggest pork producer in the entire country is none other than peace-advocate John Murtha (D., Pennsylvania). Said the Journal, "If John Murtha were a businessman, he’d be the biggest employer in town." Murtha has used his power and influence in Congress to create thousands of jobs and steer billions of federal dollars into his hometown in Western Pennsylvania. Whether it is money to recover from flooding or money to cover for the loss of steelmakers the people of Murtha’s district can count on John to bring home the pork. He clearly delivers. And this guy is shameless. He gets a lot of this pork from spending bills for the military budget. In the new military-spending bill before Congress Murtha channels more money to his district than other other member of Congress. Does anyone besides me see the plain as daylight hypocrisy of this man?
Make no mistake about this. Your dollars, regardless of where you live, benefit John Murtha’s district and his political future there. Certain defense contractors have found this district friendly and thus hire lobbyists to get lucrative, no-bid contracts in Murtha’s district. A drug intelligence center, that the White House has tried for years to shut down as wasteful, continues getting money because of Murtha’s efforts. Worst of all a man who got his start working for John Murtha forty years ago now heads up MTS Technologies and gets millions via Murtha’s committee efforts that benefit him. The Journal found, in a private review, that dozens of contracts funded by Murtha’s committee, the House Appropriations Subcommitee on Defense, were not sought by the military or the federal agencies they were actually meant to benefit. Some are now, rightly it seems, under federal investigation.
Murtha is not alone in benefiting from military spending while at the same time he opposes the war effort. Of the top five spenders of pork in the House of Representatives three are liberal Democrats who are consistently outspoken critics of the Bush administration and its war spending. The number four and five biggest spenders are none other than Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Two Republicans check in at numbers two and three, C. W. Bill Young of Florida and Jerry Lewis of California. So this is not simply a partisan issue. The people of America wanted to remove Republicans in 2006 because they said that they were fed up with their dishonesty and corrupt practices in Congress. I wonder if they are paying attention to this issue now. So long as we let such congressional leaders get away with this it will go on and on. These men and women are shameless in spending our money for their own benefit. A people who do not protest against this kind of crony laden practice will always have bad leaders and bad government. I hope the good people of these congressional districts pay attention to this crass practice and stupid spending but my guess is that they are too enamored with "what have they done for us lately" to really care. Incumbency works for a reason and this is one of the big ones. Democracy, however, will not work in the long term without virtue. Such hypocrisy is rampant in our government. But there are still wonderful illustrations of people who are much better than this. May we find them and support them wherever possible, regardless of our political ideology. We cannot afford to let people like this hold power for too long.