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Arlington County Board Hosts Potlatch

Gift giving, according to the Houghton-Mifflin encyclopedia of North American Indians, was "a central feature of social life" among the natives of North America, and "(i)n the Pacific Northwest . . . this tradition is known as the potlatch." It was thought to be "a system of redistribution that maintained social harmony within and between tribes." We first noticed the similarity between this tribal custom and the Arlington County Board's habit of dishing out taxpayer money during their final budget markup session several years ago. We were reminded of that potlatch meeting as we read the online version of this week's Arlington Sun-Gazette. The paper noted that on Saturday, the County Board approved dishing out $219,000 of our taxes to a slew of Arlington arts organizations, e.g., the Arlington Arts Center ($6,797), Signature Theatre ($30,000), and Teatro de la Luna ($19,792). In addition, $36,764 was dished out for "specific grants." In a separate action, the paper reported the County Board approved $159,496 "to keep the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Northern Virginia facility in operation." Sure seems like the County Board is operating a "system of redistribution" to us.