Mar 022011
Authors: Joe Vajgrt

On Tuesday morning I awoke to the news that the new Republican majority had repealed the Democrats’ “Green the Capitol” program introduced at the Congressional Cafeteria four years ago.

The program banned the use of foam cups and plates while requiring that utensils and trays be made from completely biodegradable materials. As if taking a giant step backward in sustainable practices wasn’t bad enough, one of John Boehner’s press aides went so far as to brag about the development, tweeting, “The new majority, plastic ware is back.”

Why is this something to be proud of? Is anyone really that fond of plastic, single-use utensils? Maybe it was a nod to plastics in general. I’m becoming convinced that Boehner’s signature orange sheen is the result of some kind of thin plastic layer that repels the tears that are perpetually cascading down his cheeks.

Was destroying the Democrats’ green initiatives a simple knee-jerk reaction? After all, decades of conditioning and habituation were bound to have this effect on the Republican Party, eventually.

Perhaps the move was an homage to the good ol’ days of the Reagan administration’s recommitment to reliance on foreign energy.

In 1979, Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House and boldly predicted, “In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me … will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy.”

Whoa, not so fast there, Jimmy. In 1986, the Reagan administration quietly had the fully functioning panels removed while resurfacing the roof.

According to an article last August in Scientific American, “By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies — recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers.”

Decisions like this one simply baffle me. What possible justifications are there for devolving in such ways?

Then again, just about everything conservatives do baffles me. Take for instance the proposed cuts to supplemental nutrition programs. The GOP-controlled House suggested that funding for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program be cut in half to $100 million a year. The House budget also calls for completely eliminating funding for Hunger Free Communities Grants.

The budget proposal that literally and figuratively takes the cake though is the suggestion that $1.1 billion be cut from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program.

It’s about time that someone had the balls (or in this case, the Boehner) to cut nutrition assistance to poor, malnourished mothers and their children. I for one am sick and tired of all these freeloading babies suckling at the teat of big government. Get a job, babies! I don’t care if the job market is tough right now. You’re simply not applying yourselves.

Look, I know we need to find ways to cut the deficit. Saving a few cents by removing biodegradable utensils and drastically reducing funding for our poorest citizens is not the answer.

The sum of $1.1 billion dollars sounds like a lot until you consider this amount doesn’t even account for eight one-hundredths of 1 percent of our $14 trillion deficit.

It’s not single mothers and their children who have created this mess. The true causes of our skyrocketing debt are defense spending, Medicare, and Social Security programs.

Conservatives can’t claim they’re the more fiscally responsible of the two major parties until they prove they’re willing to slash the budgets of their sacrosanct programs.

I, for one, will drink to that. Just not out of a foam cup.

Joe Vajgrt is a junior that doesn’t really advocate for babies getting jobs. Also, he’s studying journalism. His column appears on Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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