Wednesday, June 28, 2006

At Taxpayer Expense

A flyer came in the mail today, 12x16 on 60lb paper. In big lettering across the top it says, "Hurricane Preparedness Update" and in the center a full color, smiling photo of incumbent Congressman Michael McCaul TX-10. Also included are addresses and phone numbers to the various offices Mr. McCaul keeps around the state, plus his DC digs and an invitation to visit his website. On the back is a helpful checklist of supplies needed in case a hurricane hits, evacuation suggestions, and emergency contact numbers.

On the whole it is a very neatly laid out collection of information, similar to the ones found in the Houston Chronicle, local grocery stores, and any number of places online. What makes this one extra special is that Congressman McCaul makes sure we know he is "Working to Provide Relief and Protection" for the people in his district, and that it came delivered to my home, "prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense."

What annoys me about this is not that Congressman McCaul's flyer is somewhat of a redundant waste of taxpayer money. It's just a drop of piss in the ocean of waste our government squanders everyday, in Iraq, the Medicaid prescription fraud and interest on ever increasing deficit. Nor do I begrudge McCaul the benefit of his incumbency, by using disaster preparedness as a campaign platform from which to engender recognition for his name and likeness in voters. The thing practically screams vote for me, your congressman, because I care (but it doesn't, because that would be illegal).

No, what really pisses me off is that he is allowed to use taxpayer money to campaign for himself in the guise of providing "pertinent information and a checklist to help you prepare for an emergency and respond to a natural disaster," while the candidate I support lacks the resources to do likewise in any meaningful way. McCaul is a multi-millionaire with an equal-figured warchest. He could afford to send out this mailing on his own dime if he really believed it would benefit the people in District 10, but then, doing things that would make a difference isn't McCaul's way.

If Ted Ankrum could get himself elected to congress, he would show how much he cares about this district by voting to bring our service men and women home from the travesty that is Iraq. He could show how he cares about our seniors, by voting to save Social Security and pass a real comprehensive national healthcare plan. And he would work to reduce our dependence of foreign oil, plan for alternative energies and reduce the pollutants that are causing global warming and therefore the trend toward more and more horrific hurricanes.

But Ted doesn't have the platform or the resources to tell people these things quite the same way the heavily-funded incumbent congressman can. So while McCaul continues to vote for bills that leave us more and more vulnerable overseas and at home, he sends home messages of hope with a sincere grin, hefty cardstock and very readable typeface. And we continue to pay for this shit.