Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Priorities of My Countrymen have Disappointed Me

So, Barak Obama wants to answer questions from ordinary Americans, which are voted on by ordinary Americans via the web. I’ve been browsing these questions on and I was a bit surprised, especially in the budget category. I expected that some of the top questions would be related to the budget’s size, the national debt, or other budget priorities. What I read was shocking, the top seven questions were all about legalizing marijuana. While most tied it into the budget as a savings for drug enforcement or income from taxation, the thought of this being the dominant subject in questions for the president regarding the budget is quite a disappointment. I’m not part of the pro marijuana legalization movement, but I understand that it is a legitimate concern for some people, and it is a point of view that should be considered by the government from time to time, but seriously, do the majority of Americans really believe that seventy percent of the top ten questions about the budget should be related to marijuana legalization?

Americans of all political affiliations should be concerned about the President’s budget, if for no other reason than its size. I asked a simple question about federal government agencies and their end of year spending practices which I’ve personally seen waste hundreds of thousands of dollars. I suggested that the President work with Congress to fix this problem by allowing federal agencies some flexibility to roll over money from one year to the next without fear that their budgets will be cut simply because they didn’t spend it all the year before. There were some fine questions about how to pay down the national debt, raising or lowering taxes, eliminating government waste, and other important subjects.

One big problem with the question form is that there wasn’t much room to articulate a question the proper background required for the question to make total sense. I don’t recall the character limit off hand but the first version of my question was about 250 characters over the limit. I had to reword the question many times before getting it to fit properly and still retain most of my original thought. Something tells me that this wasn’t a big problem for the marijuana legalization crowd!

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