The Cost of Ceremonies

Have you, like me, ever been disgusted with what could be bought with the tens of millions of dollars that our politicians spend in their over-blown, self-congratulatory ceremonies? Well, here are some of the things (at an average price) that could have been bought for the $30 million that President Clinton is spending on his second inauguration this January.

19,108,280 complete holiday meals at the Los Angeles Mission.
4 million surplus military blankets for the homeless.
School lunches for 16,129,032 needy children.
Computers for 20,000 elementary school students.
Shoes for 1.2 million children.
Woodwind instruments for 75,000 public school children.
12 million Meals on Wheels for the elderly.
Nearly nine years of Welfare checks for 500 LA single mothers with two children.
1.2 million school books or library books.
1.76 million months of basic cable service in Lone Pine, CA.
5 million outfits of shirt, pants, socks and shoes for the poor from Goodwill
1.5 million surplus US Army overcoats for the homeless.
Salaries for over 300 new teachers, including great benefits.
One fifth the cost of sending the Mars Global Orbiting Surveyor launched 11/7/96.
8,571 portable defibrillators (used by emergency medical personnel to restart hearts after a heart attack).
1.5 million home HIV tests.
50,000 individual, 24 week prescriptions for the Nicodrem stop smoking patch.
1 million nights in a single occupied room at Motel 6, for the homeless.
12 million hours of child care (or 1.5 million 8 hour days).
3,750,000 hours of homemaking assistance for the elderly.
1.2 million dogs neutered or 750,000 spayed.
6 million hours of internet connection time using Concentric Research's 800 number.
300 million minutes of Sprint's dime a minute phone rate.

Okay, that should prove the point. What our politicians obviously consider to be small change could provide a large change in the lives of those who need the money that is otherwise spent on pure monarchy-style nonsense. We simply do not need to waste such huge sums on parties and balls that are really only repayments for those who bought their own politician and now want to celebrate their acquisitions.

Here is a humble suggestion for our government. No one may write, discuss, be involved with or vote on any subject that they do not have personal knowledge of. If Welfare is up for grabs, then all participants must spend two months trying to live on the measly stipend provided for these families. I don't mean that they may do this while continuing to live in their Georgetown mansions, either. No, they would be required to find family housing, pay for their food, their transportation, their childcare, their clothing, their education and everything else from the miserably small amount that Welfare mothers must live on. Then, perhaps, these lawyers turned politicians might have some idea of the pain that they cause when they vote to please the lowest common denominator of their supporters.

The same would be true of votes on Medicare or food stamps or college loans or whatever. Politicians live in their own little world of money and parties and free trips and affluence that the normal human being isn't privy to by the mere fact of the vast difference in wealth and power. It simply makes no sense to have any group of people making up laws who have absolutely no idea of, and appear to have no compassion for, the consequences their actions have on other human beings.

One more suggestion. How about if we, the nation's voters, demand that all politicians be forced, while in office, to live on minimum wages and ban all other forms of income? Do you think that the attitudes towards the poor and middle class would change overnight? Do you think that the idea of the wealthy individuals and corporations actually paying their fair share of the load might become a bit more attractive to these folks?

If the politician isn't aware of the true depth of a problem, we all agree that he or she should not vote on the subject, right? Should we extend that edict to the voters, as well? No, probably not. Considering that less than half of those registered to vote actually do so, then eliminating those without a clue as to who they are voting for or what the issues truly are would leave very few people to vote at all. Wait! Would that be bad?

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