Sunday, August 16, 2009
Traveling a Scandal?
The headline on page A5 of the August 11, 2009 Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) reads “Lawmakers on Recess Take Wing for Distant Shores”. Under the headline are photos of 5 Senators and Representatives along with maps showing their destinations. After listing the travelers and destinations the writers (Brody Mullins and T.W. Farnam) ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124995134528621263.html) point out that these are “among more than a dozen taxpayer-funded trips” being taken during Congress’s summer recess. The implication is clear. These are holidays funded by taxpayer dollars at a time when many of us, the taxpayers, can’t afford to vacation. Another scandal. Or is it? I don't think so.
If you take the time to read through the article you learn that the destinations relate to the work these lawmakers do - on behalf of us, the taxpayers. To me it seems we should be relieved that the people who vote on our behalf about matters relating to places far away do go visit them. It's their job to be informed. I am glad they wish to learn something about the places where we invest money, send troops, expand trade, do research and try to sell our products and services.
As I read this article it seems to send a message implying that international engagement (travel) is wasteful, unnecessary. Further suggesting that our lawmakers can get all the information they need in their home district, off the internet, from U-Tube and CNN. Do you really think so?
The only way to understand the world is to be connected, to see, feel, touch the reality of another place. If we, the people of the US, want legislators who can serve us well let us be sure they are educated about the world we live in. Let’s celebrate and encourage their travel. The time is now to explore the world and report back - for us, for our lawmakers. Remember, years ago Marco Polo explored the world and look what happened. New ideas, new products, new possibilities. Let’s make that happen again.