by John Hawkins | April 25, 2005 3:19 am
Perhaps you’re wondering what the Appalachian Fruit Laboratory in Kearneysville WV wants to do with $3,638,000 of your hard-earned tax dollars. Maybe you want to know why animal waste management in Bowling Green KY costs the federal government $2,300,000. (What are those animals eating — too much of that Appalachian Fruit?) Possibly you just want to know why $100,000 of the money you send to the IRS is going to teach Iowans who want to plant trees in the Trees Forever Program about the injuries snow can do to those trees. I’m more concerned with the damage pork-barrel projects like these are doing to my budget. I’m afraid to say that out loud, however… someone might convince a politician to give him my tax money to study it.
The bottomless money trough in Washington DC is as full to the brim as ever, and so the Citizens Against Government Waste have released the 2005 edition of The Pig Book. Its pages detail all the myriad ways in which excess tax revenue is being misspent, in excruciating detail. Your tax dollars and mine are going to fund projects like Washington State’s $250,000 appropriation for “asparagus technology.” Is high-tech asparagus your cup of tea? Other examples of blatant waste are $11,450,000 for a Louisiana waterway that carries 0.1% of the nation’s water traffic — while getting 3.4% of all waterway funding — and $3,973,000 for a multi-state research project on shrimp aquaculture which, according to the USDA, has already met its original objectives… scheduled to be completed in 1987.
Did you know that you donated $70,000 for the Paper Industry Hall of Fame in Appleton WI? Were you aware that you paid $25,000 to the Clark County School District of Nevada so that the students can study mariachi music? Do you like golf enough to pay $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation in Los Alamitos CA? Woods probably makes that much in a relaxing afternoon while playing a game — can’t he fund his own foundation? Were you asked whether you wanted to give $775,000 to the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables FL, which charges customers $350 per night? On the Biltmore’s website, taxpayers can see where their money is going. “Coming Spring of 2005, The Biltmore will introduce a brand new, 12,000 sq. ft. destination Spa on the seventh floor of the hotel. Featuring spectacular views of surrounding Coral Gables, the Biltmore Spa will offer a luxurious and sophisticated setting for state-of-the-art treatments and services.” Your tax dollars at work! As far as I’m concerned, all this pork spending is a load of fertiliser. If only I could get some of the $1,700,000 you gave to Alaska’s International Fertiliser Development Center for saying so.
How often do we hear Democrats crying that tax cuts hurt vital programs like education and Medicare? As long as politicians can spend taxpayer money on bloated pork projects, there’s certainly no shortage of money in Washington DC — and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Why don’t tax cuts come out of the trough first? No politician from any major party would vote to stop pork altogether — that’s how they buy votes from special interests, and garner good publicity in local papers back home to influence swing voters. No politician is immune — the top state for pork-barrel projects in 2005 is Alaska, the Republican Senator of which (Ted Stevens) is also the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman.
It seems there are only two ways to slow down the mad rush to spend all that excess tax money politicians control. A line-item veto would allow a single person — the President — to be held accountable for passing pork project costs on to the taxpayers. Not many Presidents would risk falling poll numbers to buy new buses for Disneyland transportation, as one California pork project does with $300,000 of your money.
In 1996, Congress passed the line-item veto, President Clinton used 82 times alone. However, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the line-item veto was unconstitutional in 1998, putting pork back on the menu. Senator Bobby Byrd (D-WV) called the decision, “a great day for the US Constitution.” Senator Byrd was named “The King of Pork” in honor of his “fiscal incontinence” by the CAGW in 1999, when he became the first Senator to amass a billion dollars in pork-barrel funding. Byrd has earned a lifetime rating of 17 from the CAGW, on a scale where 0 is considered hostile to taxpayers and 100 labels one a “Taxpayer Hero.” As of last year, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) tied for the dubious honor of “most taxpayer-hostile Senator,” each with a lifetime rating of 7.
The best way, however, to stop the politicians from picking your pocket to buy votes in their home states is: more tax cuts! If they don’t have your money in the first place, they can’t waste it. And DC politicians obviously have too much money for their own good… or yours.
Content used with permission of CavalierX from Guardian Watchblog. You can read more of his work by clicking here.
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