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Needs of Homeless vs Pork Barrel Spending
By Stefan Hovik


November 01, 2005

In the state of Texas, 15,000 people are about to become homeless. In the middle of November, as winter sets in, fifteen thousand people in one state alone are about to be living in cardboard boxes and homeless shelters. This is not another plea for donations, or a "wakeup call" to your sense of compassion for fellow human beings, oh no. You have given generously, and continue to do so, but the spare change in the grocery line collection trays, the checks to the Red Cross, the programming fundraisers are not enough. FEMA is close to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and when the barrel is empty and the pork is gone, thousands will be living in the streets. Kind of makes you wonder how it must feel to be sitting on a $452 million barrel of pork and watching the hurricane victims crawl wretched at your feet.

I reiterate; this is not a call to grudgingly reach for your pocketbooks, not in the least. This is a cry of utter disbelief and disgust as I watched my state senator, the Honorable Ted Stevens, vehemently shout "NO!" in the face of the Senate committee asking for re-appropriations from the Alaskan Bridge Fund for hurricane assistance. It was the shout of a chubby 8-year-old asked to share the cookies at his birthday party. "NO!" I have my arms wrapped so tight around this cookie jar and no amount of pleading or prying can convince me to give it up. "NO!" I have worked my life to erect this monument to myself and have finally worked myself, (and my fellow pork-grubber Don Young) into positions where allocation of these extensive funds is possible. And "NO!" I will not listen to your sob stories of broken levees and lack of emergency housing. "NO!" I don't care that the honorable citizens of Bozeman, Montana did their part and returned 4 million pledged for a parking garage to aid in hurricane relief. Watching on cable television, this shout made me embarrassed to call myself an Alaskan.

I would like to extend a simple math problem to the Honorable senator. FEMA currently pays $2358 for three months of housing in Texas. This provides for basic human needs and gives victims a chance to get their feet back on the ground. $452 million would go a long way by these terms. Far enough, in fact, that 192,000 people would have a place to live through the winter. Fellow Alaskans, I appeal to you: do not let the only voice from our state be the one of Don Young asking to have his ear kissed, or Ted Stevens throwing a fit at his birthday party. If our elected representation is incapable of human understanding and responsible action then it's time for us to let the rest of the states know that we are not a state of selfish bigots, but a state of compassionate understanding people who have a desire to be one of the UNITED States of America, and not a single body acting in its own best interests. It is true that the bridges to nowhere will fail based on their own lack of merit, but now we must decide what is responsible to do with an overstuffed fund. Will we use it for an imminent and just cause, or continue to sit on it and wait until Mr. Stevens can come up with a better justification for erecting a monumental edifice so we Alaskans can get to the wilderness that much quicker.

Stefan Hovik
University of Idaho
Hometown: Ketchikan, AK - USA




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