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Here are two stories from the newspaper about how government works – or doesn’t work.

Trees

It took three years for Raleigh to approve Mayor Meeker’s tree ordinance. Two more years have passed since then, and, now, the city is getting ready to take another look at the thirty-three section ordinance. So, with the new year, Raleigh City government will begin the fourth year of the ‘Great Tree Debate.’ But, then, it takes time to settle the burning issues of our time.

Earmarks

Their first week in power the Democrats in Congress passed a rule to curtail “earmarks” – appropriations Congressmen use to pay for local pork-barrel projects, give money to special interests and grant special tax breaks.

The Democrats new rules don’t outlaw earmarks outright, but they require the names of their sponsors to be published. In other words, if a Congressman wants to give the, say, half-a-million dollars to the Teapot Museum, he’s going to have to be ready to take credit for it.

Amazingly, 152 Congressmen voted against the new rule, including every Republican from North Carolina except Congressman Walter Jones.

Of course, the opponents don’t say they want to keep earmarks because they like pork barrel spending. Instead, they say they voted against the new rule because it also requires spending increases to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere – or higher taxes. The new Republican leader, John Boehner, says that is a prescription for tax increases.

With all respect to Congressman Boehner, defending ‘earmarks’ is not the way to oppose tax increases.

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