Sunday, February 24, 2008

My First Experience as a Corrupted Lawmaker (Sort of)

You know how lobbyists and corporations often pay congressmen and women, Democrats and Republicans, with either cold, hard cash or vacations or travels in order to get that lawmaker to shuttle taxpayer money to them. Those lawmakers often insert these payments into bills (ex: Defense appropriations bills) at the last minute, without review by other lawmakers. This is called pork-barrel spending or earmarking.

Just yesterday, I volunteered at an information session to help answer questions about my high school for accepted students and their families from my former middle
school. However, in order to attract families to come at 10 on a Saturday morning required some refreshments such as bagels, pastries, coffee, tea, etc. Oh, and it came with someone to help set-up the food and serve it. The total bill: $950.00. Guess who was paying for it: a private bus company that serves my high school. Let me get this straight: I have no problem with that bus company; I've been taking it for four years and I love it.

However, throughout the information session, I felt pressured to promote them and not the other company, since they were paying for the snacks and had a presence there. In addition, the families were subjected to constant praise and Q&A with only that bus company present. In addition, my role there was to answer questions primarily relating to the school, not about the price of the bus service or how many new buses they have. I felt like a bribed lawmaker, except I was not enjoying the benefits.

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