One of the e-mail items I receive regularly comes from the Citizens Against Government Waste, who are vigilant against roads to nowhere and $16 muffins. CAGW regularly names a Porker of the Month, “a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.”
For September 2011, the designee was Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) “for suggesting that the United States Postal Service (USPS) can solve its financial problems by embarking on a new advertising campaign. During a September 6, 2011 Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing at which Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe speculated that USPS could be out of business by the end of the year, Sen. McCaskill stated, ‘I really believe that if somebody would begin to market the value of sending a written letter to someone you love, you might be surprised [by] how you could stabilize first-class mail.’ With USPS facing a $10 billion loss this year and the Government Accountability Office having declared that USPS’s business model ‘is not viable,’ Sen. McCaskill later admitted that her comments were ‘corny, naïve and Pollyannaish.’ CAGW President Tom Schatz commented, ‘Sen. McCaskill’s wistful idea of a PR campaign is indicative of how out of touch Congress is with the condition of USPS’s finances.'”
I’ll admit Senator McCaskill’s observations were silly and unworkable – and so did The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart – but she herself would now admit that. I think, and it is much clearer if you saw her musings rather than just reading them, she was indulging in a little romanticism, nostalgic about an America where people actually did write handwritten letters, not just e-cards.
But I just don’t think her musings were in the same category as some previous Porkers, who were rightly called out, such as this guy and this one. Conversely, I think CAGW is flat-out wrong with regards to this fellow; the notion that “private organizations can and will easily pick up any slack created by lower funding for NOAA and the [National Weather Service]” ignores the fact that much of the private research is based on public data. And with the changeable climate we’re in, I’d hate for us to be subject to the private sector for information about the the next batch of bad weather.