What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.
“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.
Your Role in Fighting Pig Odor
Something stinks, and it's coming from Washington
By Jim Ray
If you purchase a home situated next door to a commercial swine farm with 200,000 pigs, you should not be shocked if you happen to awake one morning to a smell that is something distinctly less pleasurable than the scent of fresh lilies. This pungent problem, you may be interested to learn, has been the subject of many a lawsuit across the country. In some cases, the people moved in next to the pigs. In others, the pigs moved in next to the people.
Perhaps you are fortunate enough to live in a place where the air is not befouled each morning by pig odor, and you may thus be thinking this is a matter to be best decided between the pig farmers and the people who live near the pigs. But you would be wrong. Because though you may not realize it, you have paid handsomely to tackle this critical issue. And pig odor is just the start of it. The 2016 Congressional Pig Book has just been published, and it turns out you are paying for a whole host of projects that stink to the high heavens.
In the annals of statesmanship, it doesn’t quite measure up to Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty, or give me death!” Or Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. But Iowa’s Tom Harkin was certainly passionate when he stood on the floor of the Senate to argue that you, the taxpayer, should pay for a $1.7 million federal study on the odor of pig manure so that pigs and people can better “coexist.”
That was in the 2009 budget, and while, gratefully, the 2016 version has eliminated pig waste in the literal sense, plenty of it remains in the figurative sense. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a government watchdog group, has identified $5.1 billion buried in the budget, up from $4.2 billion last year. These are all taxpayer-funded boondoggles, like the study of pig odor, funded via “earmarks.”
CAGW defines an earmark as an expenditure slipped into the budget without any congressional hearing, is requested by only one chamber of Congress, is not specifically authorized, is not competitively awarded, is not requested by the president, and serves only a local or special interest.
Among the current projects outed in the latest edition of the Congressional Pig Book: millions in alternative energy grants, agricultural programs that duplicate other federal funding, research money for “unsafe radiation physics infrastructure,” new military ships and airplanes that are years behind schedule and billions over budget, and, not surprisingly, a massive allocation to refurbish office buildings occupied by members of Congress. The average earmark this year is $36.6 million although, notably, the grant the legislators awarded to improve their own accommodations was more than twice that, at $84.6 million.
Reasonable people can differ about what should and what should not be purchased by the federal government. But the process of creating earmarked budget items is almost always designed to benefit someone in particular. That “someone” is probably not you, but you will be the one paying. These shenanigans illustrate what is wrong with politics in America. Whereas John F. Kennedy once urged citizens to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," purveyors of pork like former Senator Harkin do the opposite: because some of his constituents elected to live in the vicinity of malodorous pigs, the rest of America must pay.
What can you do? Ephesians 5:13 says that “when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” While the Apostle Paul wasn’t talking about politics, the principle applies. As a citizen, commit to being informed about what your government is spending and then make your voice heard. Politicians can be shamed or frightened into doing the right thing, when people raise a stink. But they are counting on you to suffer “olfactory fatigue.” Yes, it’s real … a condition in which “a person's nose, after exposure to certain odors, is no longer able to detect the odor.”
- Pray that government spending decisions will be “exposed to the light,” and be made honestly and openly.
- Pray that America’s leaders will put the nation first, and not their own interests, as they govern.
Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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