Jefferson’s Admonition, Pilot Programs, and Minority Veterans
In a May, 1788 letter to Colonel Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson wrote a famous line: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
Watching the bills introduced in Congress can help illustrate the mechanics of that process 220 years later – in the government Jefferson helped found.
H.R. 674 is a bill to repeal a provision in current law that would terminate the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans as of December 31, 2009. Passage of the bill would cost the average family a mere three cents.
Is there anything wrong with looking out for minority veterans? None at all. It’s important, in fact, that they get a fair shake. But this same logic applies to just about every group and every bill that comes before Congress. Everyone should get a little something. And – heck – it’s only three cents.
But as we approach 10,000 bills introduced in the current Congress, we need to ask how many times we should pay three cents for every good cause that comes along.
Here’s something every lobbyist and congressman in Washington, D.C. knows: If you can’t get a program built and funded outright, start with a pilot program. Let a constituency grow around it, and work to extend it and expand it.
H.R. 674 is a nice, clean example of that happening. Somebody wanted a Commission on Minority Veterans. They got it put into law as a temporary measure. Now they’re working to make it permanent. It’s just three cents . . . .
The full quote from Jefferson is: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. As yet our spirits are free.”
Did minority veterans fight for a country where each group looks to the government for special treatment or a little cut of the loot from taxpayer? Or the country where the people’s spirits are still free? It remains to be seen . . . .