Do Democrats really care anymore whether or not they win elections? Or do they feel it doesn't matter, because after all, the GOP has their best (personal) interests at heart? Who wants to vote for such spineless candidates?
Donny C. Hampton
Kansas City, Missouri
Pork it over: Dude, where's the party? Wherever the money is, dummy. It doesn't matter whether you are Republican or Democrat -- if you can get the money, you will have friends. Some of them will even vote for you.
It is called pork-barrel politics. Some of it is good, some not so good, and some of it is downright sleazy. Our children and grandchildren will pay the bill, and the politician stays in power.
To say that a segment of people does better under one administration over another is a stretch. There are a lot of factors, with the economy always shifting to adjust to new technology and consumer demands. The economy will always go up and down, and the government should leave a lot of this alone.
I sometimes think our government should be by lottery appointment. Then power bases would not be built, and special-interest influence would be less. The politicians wouldn't owe anyone and could more easily vote their consciences, and campaign money could be spent on goods and services. Or pour it into government coffers, and we wouldn't need taxes.
Kansas City, Missouri
Pork chop: I think Joe Miller's article on Kit Bond misses the larger point. It is not about black or white constituencies; it's not about whether Cleaver or Barnes support Bond.
The point is, incumbent politicians use pork-barrel funding as re-election campaign dollars. Free and clear. Provided by taxpayer money, with no debate or peer-review of the cost-benefit analysis of the expenditure. The "authority" to allocate pork is derived via political clout. Which means you have a self-perpetuating mechanism to tow the party line -- regardless of which party is in the majority -- and to support the hierarchical and incumbent authority structure.
As Miller notes, these political incumbents send out press releases regarding the "bacon" they bring home, which is duly reported by such media outlets as the Star and equally "duly" consumed unthinkingly by most readers.
For example, Missouri politicians have done a bang-up job recently of bringing home the bacon to life sciences in Kansas City. However, the ugly fact that no one wants to mention is that it comes with a cost -- equipment paid for by pork that must be supported operationally and with faculty and personnel that will cost the local universities millions of dollars annually. Equipment that, in most instances, will be obsolete before it can realize anything approaching maximum utilization.
While everyone from the chancellors of the universities to state and city politicians to the director of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute and the president of the Stowers Institute is patting themselves on the back for obtaining one-time moneys, they are encumbering the federal, state and local taxpayers with gigantic, recurring, white-elephant costs.
We really should see pork-barrel funding for what it is: a black mark on American politics.
Carol M. Johnson
I don't know if Johnson is from Kansas City or not, but if she is, I bet it was hard to write this. It seems crazy that this is the one place people still refer to as a "good, wholesome state" when there is as much faulty activity as anywhere else. Anyway, I thought Johnson's article was exceptionally well-rounded, and I can tell she must have her own opinion on this matter-- she hides it very well -- but I think I would find it very frustrating to not have an opinion on a subject like this.
It's great to know that our government is so willing to let dipshits do their dirty work, let them tell their side of it, get off for years of dirt and, oh, let's just let them back out on the streets -- that sounds practical. I think we might as well have monkeys doing their jobs; all they do is stay behind the scenes and have their asses covered the whole time. What a crock!
So, you probably don't read these, but I wanted to tell you in my bounce-from-subject-to-subject way that this was a hell of an article, and if this is the kind of stuff and the way Johnson always writes, she has a new fan of the Pitch -- or maybe just her (her articles -- no stalker tendencies meant).
Keep up the good work.
Grand Sam:I want to commend Steve Walker on his feature on Sam Cordes ("Sam He Am," December 25). As one of Sam's former schoolteachers, I thought you captured the talent, modesty and genuine enthusiasm of this young thespian. His parents have done a fine job immersing their children in the local arts. And Mr. Walker has noted a promising actor with star potential.