Mary Katharine Ham

These are dangerous times. These are the times, immediately following a national emergency, when the federal government feels it must do something. They’re not sure what exactly, but they know they must do something so that everyone knows how much they care.

     All taxpaying citizens should live in fear of these times, when politicians cannot be satisfied with their own contributions to Hurricane Katrina relief and start healing with our money. But understanding that such is the nature of politicians, I’ve come up with a few things they can do that do more to show just how much they care than throwing $50 billion in tax money in the general direction of the American South without a plan for using it.

     Purge the pork. The New York Times will probably be horrified to learn that it is in agreement with myself and The Heritage Foundation on this point. When Congress passed and President Bush signed the $286.5 billion transportation bill in early August, they all knew it contained a lot of nonsense—$24 billion to pay for more than 6,000 pet projects, to be exact. If Congress wants to do something, it should give up the projects. The regular citizens of their states are giving up much to help the victims, and I doubt the folks in Wilmington, Del. would miss a $6.5 million train station restoration.

     Perhaps Don Young, architect of the $223 million bridge to nowhere in Alaska, could be convinced to give up his project to pay for a bridge over the Bay of St. Louis in Mississippi. I’m glad to see folks on both ends of the political spectrum picking up on this idea, because our friends in Congress sometimes require a larger dose of shame than the average American to get in line. A tongue-lashing from both sides of the aisle could do the trick.

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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