Dubya bulletins & creative corruption @VoteBay.gov
Expanded from the 5-13-2001 Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Warning: this column may be interrupted by bulletins from the president.
I've found the politician to lead us into the new millennium and his name ain't Dubya. The harbinger of greatness to come is Rep. James Traficant, Jr., D-Ohio.
Despite his recent indictment for accepting bribes and other undoubtedly spurious allegations, he has shown us the wave of the future...
WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN: President Bush has announced that Timothy McVeigh will not be executed until Congress passes a substantial tax cut for the rich. Now back to your regularly-scheduled column...
In a market-oriented economy which judges people on their looks and pocketbooks, the answer to our problems comes from a guy who wears loud suits from the 1970s, has long held the title of worst haircut in congress and whose website shows him wielding a 2x4 emblazoned with "Bangin' away in D.C."
Traficant recently performed the ultimate service to a capitalist industrial state: he set the market price of a congressional vote. Before last fall's elections, it was anybody's guess as to who would control the House of Representatives. So Traficant cut a deal. In exchange for a $25 million appropriation for a community center in his Youngstown district, Traficant committed to vote for GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert when the new congress convened.
Traficant, who was busted by the IRS and got his congressional salary garnished a few years back, also appreciated passage of his proposal to place the burden of proof in tax disputes on the IRS rather than the taxpayer. When Democrats controlled the House, they would not move the measure.
As a county sheriff back in the Reagan '80s, Traficant went to jail for three days rather than serve laid-off factory workers with foreclosure notices...
WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN: President Bush has announced that gasoline prices will continue to rise and electricity shortages will proliferate until congress passes a substantial tax cut for the rich. Now back to your regularly-scheduled column...
Dubya and his sponsors bought the presidency for about $200 million last year. That's cheap. Foreigners have long derided our political leaders for selling so low. Back in President Suharto's day, you couldn't do business in Indonesia without giving his family part of your company. Today, you can't deal with China or Burma without cutting in the military.
Traficant has established the benchmark. A key congressional vote is worth $25 million in 2001 dollars. The government could start VoteBay.gov and publish minimum bids for congressional votes. Those with a stake in getting ships built in Sen. Trent Lott's, R-Miss., district could pay accordingly. Needed or not, one aircraft carrier represents billions.
The vote-auction proceeds should spread the wealth to make everybody happy, say 60 percent to the federal treasury, 20 percent to the party of the representative being bought, and 20 percent to the officeholder's re-election campaign. The new system will take a little getting used to, but it's far more honorable than government going into business with the cancer companies under the guise of accepting "tobacco settlement" money...
WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN: President Bush has announced opposition to a bill by State Sen. Maurice Washington R-Sparks, allowing Nevada tourists to carry concealed weapons. "It can't work until congress passes a tax cut for my friends," the president said. Tourists will just have to leave their heat holstered on their hips until this matter is resolved. Now back to your regularly-scheduled column...
WE LOVE CALIFORNIA. For years, rumors have abounded that General Motors would close its Sparks auto parts distribution center. Thanks to Golden State power woes, GM is now rumored to be looking at a substantial expansion in this area, perhaps relocating some light manufacturing.
Manufacturing jobs are gold. A 1999 Nevada Commission on Economic Development study concluded that growth in manufacturing pays for itself. The document also noted that new low-wage gambling jobs goose the taxpayers over the long term, forcing the need for bigger government and more public services.
The research represents smoking-gun evidence that local gambling expansion is the source of the state's current fiscal woes. School kids in Las Vegas can't even get books to read in class. Some of the 15 new schools scheduled to open there this fall may be boarded up.
Back when the current GM facility was built, Nevada had a real advantage over California, which levied a substantial inventory tax. When the Golden State reduced the tax, Nevada had to start competing on other grounds, such as cheap land. Nonetheless, the Sparks plant remained in jeopardy because of its small size.
GM has even looked into relocating to Gomorrah South in the past couple of years due to its closer proximity to car-clogged Los Angeles. Now, with California suffering from a phony power shortage imposed by corporate pirates taking advantage of dumb politicians, things are looking brighter.
According to recent news reports, Nevada has lost 4,374 manufacturing jobs over the past seven years. Sixty families lost their livelihoods when Empire Brushes, a division of Rubbermaid, left Sparks for Mexico in 1999. The challenge lies in convincing GM to stay in the city, rather than building new quarters in Fernley.
SPARKS CITY ELECTION ENDORSEMENTS. The Northern Nevada Central Labor Council, the umbrella body for a wide range of local unions, has announced these endorsements in the upcoming Sparks municipal elections. City council: Ward 1, John Mayer; Ward 3-Geno Martini; Ward 5-Ron Schmidt. Municipal Court Judge: Barbara McCarthy. Early voting starts May 19.
AFTER YOU VOTE this Saturday, show up at the Progressive Leadership Alliance meeting hall, 1101 Riverside Drive in Reno. Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, will address the monthly meeting of the Nevada Utility Reform Alliance at 1:00 p.m.
At 5:30 that same afternoon, tune in to KOLO TV-8's Nevada Newsmakers for (ahem) polite politicking. Host Sam Shad will be joined by TV-8 reporters Andrea Engleman and Dennis Myers, KKKOH Radio personality Rusty Humphries and me...
WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN: The U.S. was recently voted off the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Displaying an understandable lack of faith in majority rule, President Bush lauded congressional retaliation in the form of refusing to authorize United Nations dues payments. The president blamed the U.N. ouster on lack of a tax cut for his fatcat supporters...
Be well. Raise hell.
© Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 , editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal. org/ He managed Sen. Townsend's 1980 initiative petition which forced the 1981 Nevada Legislature to establish Nevada's first office of consumer advocacy. He lobbied the 1981 session on utility issues and coordinated intervention in five cases before federal and state utility regulatory bodies. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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