Stinginess with public dollars (comment to US News story April 16, 2010)
I externed for the federal district court judge Harry L. Hupp a few years back. I still remember that when it came time for the annual judicial conference, which took place at the Dana Point Ritz Carleton that year, Judge Hupp disapproved of the extravagance for a government meeting. I do not begrudge such judges anything as they are remarkable high-achievers, accepting far less in salary than they would receive in the private sector, but I will say that his attitude made an impression on me, as does that of Clarence Thomas, reported here.
The public purse is a strange beast, where it is all but impossible for the spenders of it to feel the pain of those who give it through their taxes. It is not just these two judges who exemplify careful stewardship of public funds, but we would be well to have this attitude infect our congressional leaders, rather than the ethic we have now, which is still, The more you bring home the bacon by steering public funds into your district, the more likely you are to get personal support in your re-election campaign.
If Justice Thomas’ ethic were pervasive, the public would feel much better about paying its share of taxes and about the government those taxes fund.