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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of May 15 - 21, 2002

  Opinion Columns

Gun-toting candidate asks special treatment

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Whew! How relieved voters in Idaho’s First Congressional District must be, knowing that Steve Gothard’s demand as a condition of him serving in Congress has been rejected by police in Washington, D.C.

For those who missed the story:

Gothard is the presumptive Libertarian candidate running against incumbent Congressman Butch Otter, a Republican.

But even before the November election, Gothard has laid down this demand: if elected, he won’t go to Washington unless the local government makes an exception to gun laws and allows him to run around town with a 9-mm submachine gun and a "backup" pistol tucked under his coat.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. Those hardheaded cops in Washington informed him they’d make no exceptions, not even for Gothard, a man who apparently considers himself worthy of special treatment.

So, now that he knows he wouldn’t be allowed to carry his beloved guns around the streets of Washington, Gothard’s run for Congress becomes pointless, except for attention he’s created for himself.

However, there is another government job that would allow Gothard to carry guns all day: he could enlist in the Army, ask for assignment upfront in Afghanistan where he’d be surrounded with guns and the constant sounds of gun fire and maybe even have a chance to shoot and kill someone.

Gothard would consider that paradise.

American families who willingly shared shortages and sacrifices of World War II enrolled in a range of wartime programs to stretch scarce resources—scrap collection programs, rationing, backyard Victory gardens.

And there also were "meatless" days, when families gave up meat to make sure troops overseas had plenty.

Is that spirit of sacrifice alive today at a time when states and the nation are facing financial tough times?

It probably is too much to expect the president and the Congress to stop ladling out billions of dollars in unnecessary favors to special interest groups, as the $190 billion farm subsidies bill illustrates.

But what if all state and federal employees, who have the nation’s most secure jobs were suddenly gripped with a compulsion for extraordinary service to their country, were to forgo salaries on "payless" days to get their governments over the hump?

Consider just the impact of a "payless" day on the federal budget.

The National Taxpayers Union, which tracks Washington’s spending habits, says there are 2.7 million federal employees. Their average salary, NTU says, is $46,728.

So, if all 2.7 million were to forgo a single day’s pay ($180 average), the saving would be $486 million.

Not much by Washington standards.

But the gesture in itself might set a tone that could shame the Big Wasters into joining in sacrifice for a change.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.