14 April 2010

Oink, oink

Citizens Against Government Waste has released its annual Pig Book.  Rather depressing reading, although some of the earmarks are so strange they're funny.  The entire 2009 book may be found here.  Many of the projects for which the funds are appropriated are actually worth while; the problems are the means by which the funds were appropriated (often tacked on to wholly unrelated bills for instance, rather than subjecting them to normal budgetary debate), and the use of funds for specific projects where few jobs are generated and little use to the rest of the country can be found.  Rather than taking tax dollars from Florida and spending them on research into the uses of wool and wood in a few states (especially since these products have had developed uses for thousands of years), take fewer taxes from the states and allow them to utilize those funds as they see fit.  Or, if we just can't stand that, issue block grants to states based on population and economic factors to divvy up for state priorities.

Some of my favorites:
'$4,545,000 for wood utilization research in 10 states by 19 senators and 10 representatives. This research has cost taxpayers $95.3 million since 1985. One would think that after 24 years of research all the purposes for one of the world’s most basic construction materials would have been discovered.'

'$206,000 for wool research in three states (Montana, Texas, and Wyoming) by Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas). Since 1995, CAGW has uncovered 13 earmarks worth $3,417,453 for wool research, always in the same three states. While 47 states have figured out that wool can be best used to make a warm sweater, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming apparently are still trying to work out its practical utilizations.'
'$3,000,000 by Senate CJS Appropriations Subcommittee member Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks to help make data received from NASA satellite images more accessible to the public. Apparently the two senators have not heard of NASA TV. According to the NASA website, “The NASA TV Public and Educational channels are ‘free-to-air,’ meaning your cable or satellite service provider can carry them at no cost.” Interested viewers should contact their local cable or satellite service provider to get NASA TV, and ask the senators for a rebate of their share of that $3 million.'

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