Letter to the Editor

'Earmarking' has benefits

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dear Editor,

In the Gazette's Sept. 7 article, "Ricketts Touts Tax Plan," Mr. Ricketts says he wants to stop the practice of "earmarking" federal funds for local projects. As with most issues there's another side to the story -- one that shows how earmarks can help locally and nationally.

I am a graduate of the McCook Mid-Plains Community College now working on my degree in computer science at the University of Nebraska Omaha. My journey from MPCC to UNO to working in the computer field would have been hard, maybe impossible, without two opportunities that had direct links to federal funds.

First, I was selected for a scholarship that was funded by a high-tech company in McCook. Later, I was able to improve my computer skills and earn college money while working as an intern in McCook for the same company.

This was possible partly due to the practice of sending federal dollars to local government projects. This is earmarking, and unlike what some people think, the projects aren't charity give-aways. The projects I worked on address real military needs and are openly supported by military officials.

So in the end, our military gets the equipment they need, local students get good educations, and McCook gets well-paying jobs that help keep students from having to leave the area.

For years we have been concerned about how to improve the economic outlook for McCook and other small towns in Nebraska.

Direct federal assistance is a proven way to do that. I don't see how Mr. Ricketts' plan could improve this situation, but I do see a great many ways that it could make things worse.

Zach Randolph

MCC Graduate 2005


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