When reading the newspaper, it’s hard to read between the lines. Articles are written from the “objective,” story-specific perspective of the journalist, often without mention to their context or larger repercussions. But when you ping-pong stories of the current months off each other, you see the bigger picture. Over-hyped celebrity scandals become a lot less hyped when compared to deaths in Iraq. Politicians stand firm in one press conference, and then change their minds in a press conference six months later. Causes in one story lead to effects in another story, all strung together into an avaricious apple pie we call America.

A few weeks ago, I noticed an instance of avarice. On December 21, Tom DeLay (R-Texas) officially made the news as a high-maintenance, Platinum Card politico. The Associated Press said, “As a man at the peak of U.S. politics, Tom DeLay visited clifftop Caribbean resorts, played golf courses designed by the best and dined at four-star restaurants.” The spending equaled at least $1 million over six years, a sign of the massive economic structure of the American power game. Naturally, this is expected from our highest-ranking officials. We’re the richest country in the world, so why not let them have some taxpayer-funded fun?

This is why: The world needs those taxpayer funds. I spent most of my Christmas vacation gutting homes in southern Louisiana. What did I see? I saw hurricane-stricken victims in destitute conditions, needing money just for trailers and basic supplies. I saw entire communities ravaged and torn apart, and families separated in the Superdome while toxic floodwater flushed housing foundations. While Tom DeLay notes “at least 48 visits to golfing clubs and resorts” on his payroll receipts, the citizens of New Orleans and St. Charles wait for subsistence-level living. Comparing the news side by side, I can only say one thing: Thanks, Congress, for all your bullshit economics.

We can debate abstractions for hours on end in budget offices. We can rationalize the problem by pointing at other sources of these funds, such as political action committees. At a gut level, though, our government isn’t doing a proper job. How is it that disaster victims can die on rooftops while DeLay and his associates “raise political gusto” by playing another 18 holes? How is it that $1 million can be spent so stupidly and so extravagantly over six years? How is it that so much money and so much time is wasted on so little action?

Financial causes often have unexpected and untracked financial effects. I always find it hilarious when DeLay and others call themselves “fiscal conservatives.” That’s a complete contradiction if one looks at their lifestyles, a heave-inducing dose of hypocrisy. If you read between the lines of the American media, you find gross and unacceptable damages to our American ideals. If we want to be proud of our heritage as a democratic institution, we need to end this spend-o-crat crap. We need to give more and greed-seek less, period. Now excuse me. I’m gonna go play another 18 holes.

Daily Nexus political columnist Matt Cappiello hits about 60 percent of his fairways.