Berkley Council

So how do you think the U.S. government should respond to the city of Berkeley, California?

The Berkeley City Council voted a few weeks ago to boot the Marine Corps recruiters from the city’s downtown.

The council did this because its members oppose the Iraq War. They also don’t like the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays. That is not a Marine Corps policy. It is a Bill Clinton policy imposed on all the armed forces.

This is grandstanding. The Marines are not likely to budge. And if the city was ever stupid enough to take this to court it would lose

I hope the council does take it to court. They deserve to be humiliated. And to be seen to waste taxpayers money on such a silly gesture.

Suppose the federal government tolerated such behavior from cities. It would mean cities could pick and choose what they wanted to comply with.

If they didn’t like the level of Social Security payments they could kick Social Security out of town. If they disagreed with a court ruling they could ban the federal courts from the city. If they thought income tax rates were too high, they could banish the IRS from their domain. And tar and feather the IRS auditors at the same time. Good luck with that, city council guys.



Obviously, there are a zillion things people don’t like about the federal government. At one time or another. And in any city or town, at any time, a majority of local government people might agree to oppose most anything.

If they are in a border town, they might easily oppose federal immigration policies.

If they live in a high-income burb, they could hate the income tax rates.

If they have a lot of Cubans in their midst they could be outraged if the federal government warmed up to Castro.

It’s okay to be outraged. But if you vote to ban federal offices from your city or town you will be doing it just for the publicity. You cannot expect your ban to hold water.

Problem - at least for Berkeley - is that we are in this together. Like it or not. That is what the “Union” is all about. That is what “United” means.

Some congressman is so upset with Berkeley over this he has threatened the city. Threatened to draft a law to take earmark spending away from the city. You know, the “goodies” that politicians attach to bills. The pork.

He is grandstanding too.

It is a good thing we all have so much tolerance for the grandstanding. And that we know Berkeley’s ban is meant to “send a message” to Washington. Or to the rest of the world. Sending messages has grown popular.

You see, if the federal government ever pulled its funding from anything to do with Berkeley it would be like pulling a plug as big as city hall. The city would be reduced to pauper status in short order.

Think of the federal spending Berkeley receives. In its schools. Loans to university students. Grants to schools. Money for the hospitals. Money for airports. Money for libraries.

Imagine how much money goes to Berkeley’s roads and streets. And to the highways that feed Berkeley. The public housing. Mail delivery. Public Broadcasting. The bridges. The subsidies for water and all kinds of materials. Grants to the performing arts and museums. And to city buses. And to historic restoration. To the ferry service. School lunch program.

The list is endless.

Sorry, you whacko city council members. You can see yourselves as being left of left field. You can declare your city the Socialist Republic of Berkeley. But you are still stuck with the federal government. Including its Marine Corps if they wish to recruit there.

If you ever faced the alternative, the consequences of no federal money, you would wallpaper city council with Old Glory and beg to return to the fold.

And being an equal opportunity nation, we would have to welcome you morons back.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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