About the same time Doc Hastings announced his retirement Joel Connelly wrote an interesting article in the Seattle PI titled, “Eastern Washington: Feeding from – and biting Government’s hand”. This isn’t the first time this thought has been shared, especially by the voters in Western Washington and other progressives throughout the State. Several times in the past thirty years some people on the East side have raised their voices supporting the formation of a new state that would include Eastern Oregon. This hypothetical state would be even more dependent on the Federal dollars for its existence. Being mad at the voters in Western Washington is not a good reason to form a new State.
Eastern Washington is a great place to live but without a doubt Eastern Washington has enjoyed and benefited from many Government projects and funding. The Federal Governments New Deal provided the Grand Coulee Dam not only supplying cheap subsidized electrical power but also subsidized irrigation water for half a million acres of subsidized farm land with the farmers also subsidized for growing or not growing crops. Some farmers even receive subsidized crop insurance that guarantees their revenue.
The original Manhattan Project that helped win the ‘Big War’ has been the golden goose that keeps on giving to keep salaries flowing and businesses thriving in the Tri-Cities also benefiting Eastern Washington in general. The Columbia Hydro Electric Dams were constructed with loans guaranteed by the federal government plus grants and tax breaks. The abundant electricity from hydro has allowed other businesses, many also government subsidized, to thrive in Chelan, Douglas and Grant County. Now, it is likely that many in our area will say hydro power; expanded farming opportunities and anything dealing with the war effort doesn’t qualify as government support. We all have our own opinions.
The Forest Service not only owns and maintains much forest and recreation lands on the East side of the State but as a result the government sends a check to the Counties, dependant on government subsidies, to help with local infrastructure and schools. Tourists who enjoy the government subsidized lands, subsidized lakes behind the dams and the subsidized fish all play a significant part in keeping the economy of Eastern Washington viable.
The USA is a great place to live because we are a part of a community of people contributing to a government that shows concern for its citizens. Perhaps the problem is between our government subsidizing us, which is OK and our government helping others which we define as welfare which we label unacceptable. Doc Hastings loved to knife the government for spending money while at the same time working tirelessly bringing more government dollars to the 4th District. Doc voted against most if not all attempts to deal with environmental improvements and voted against expanding the wilderness acreage that brings hikers, climbers and general tourists to small communities on the East side. Thanks Doc for effectively playing the political game and doing all you could to subsidize Eastern Washington without using the word ‘subsidize’ which we would find offensive.