No. 709



When it comes to politicians, especially members of Congress, taking care of our money, do you ever feel like we have the fox guarding the hen house? It’s a proven fact that the greatest instinct we humans have is something called survival. Our national politicians will go to almost any length to stay in office. In a few cases, and for some members, this may be a good thing, but for the most part it’s bad for the American people. The greatest tool they have to remain in office is something called ear-marks, or another word, “pork,” which is to say, getting all they can for the voters back home who elected them. Many members of Congress do this consistently each term, regardless of the long-term consequences for our nation.
To survive or stay in office by using pork is just human nature and it explains why, in most cases, we think our elected members of Congress are doing a good job and we send them back, in some cases until they die. As I thought about the financial dilemma facing our nation today, I came up with a creative idea that may have some real merit. I’m calling this idea the “Story of 536 Cookie Jars.” The meaning or use of a cookie jar goes far beyond just a place to keep cookies, as it applies to our society. If someone is caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar, this person is caught doing something wrong. None of us is without sin, but just recently how many members of Congress have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar? A bunch!!
It’s been a good while since I have had a call from the White House or a member of Congress asking for my opinion, or some suggestions on how to straighten out the country. However, I thought I would venture one suggestion anyway. In spite of the terrible state of our economy, and millions of people who are really hurting, here in Arkansas we have fared pretty well. Of course, you know the difference in a recession and a depression, don’t you? A recession is when you lose your job, or home, or stock portfolio, and a depression is when I lose mine.
One reason our state has fared pretty well is because we are one of several states that has a “balanced budget” amendment to our constitution. Our lawmakers can’t spend more than we take in or more than we have in reserve. That sounds pretty simple and by the way, down here in the heartland we can’t print money. At least we have not been caught at it.
What I am going to suggest is that our federal government have 536 cookie jars, one much larger than the others. In the large jar you have all the money in the federal budget that provides for national defense, entitlements, education, health care, and all other services that are required to run the government. In the smaller cookie jars is the budget for each member of Congress, all 535 of them. Each member has a fixed amount to spend regardless of whether its for ear marks, salaries, travel expenses, employees, office expenses and the amount is the same regardless of where their district is located. Let them manage like we do at home.
Personally, I am infuriated when I hear about extravagance on the part of our elected officials, at any level, using taxpayer money. The people who take junkets (a junket is “A pleasure trip taken by a public official with all expenses paid from public funds,”) are totally irresponsible.
Here is the essence of my cookie jar idea. The money that is spent on junkets or anything else for their own pleasure would come from their members’ own budget. This would mean that money spent in this way would result in that much less being spent on projects that would benefit the voters back home. Beleive me, you would see a much different attitude on the part of voters, if their member of congress was spening their money. You just can't have the fox guarding the hen house and that is what we have. Real accountability and integrity is sadly lacking in Congress these days!
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)