What would you do if you had unlimited access to Other People’s Money?
And how wild would you get if you knew that Other People were being compelled to fork over their cash to you? Compelled by force of law.
I know I would probably buy a whole lotta diamonds and maybe a private jet with gold plated bathroom fixtures. And maybe a giraffe. I’ve always wanted a giraffe. Oh, and a rocket.
In order to spark your creativity, the folks at Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) have compiled their annual Pig Book which documents all the pork barrel spending we get to pay for. In fact, this year there are 242 specific earmarks which are costing Other People $14.7 BILLION.
Fourteen point seven BILLION! And it’s more than double than it was last year. In fact, if you look at things, Congress always earmarks more in an election year. Earmarks are the incumbents’ re-election insurance program.
Did I mention that you and I are the Other People’s Money?
So, what are we getting for our $14.7 Billion?
Lots of old opera houses, drive in theaters (which should probably be left to nature), and various museums devoted to the preservation of thimbles got about $13 million.
Nearly $3 Billion of those earmarks will go for 20 more F-35 Joint Force Fighter Jets. This program is about 10 years behind schedule, and nobody really wants it. But, it keeps people from Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors employed. Including fellow Texans up in Ft. Worth.
If you’re Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, you got to spend $16 million on the East-West Center (that’s where Barack Obama’s parents met), even though the E-W center didn’t ask for it.
Here’s a good one from the Pig Book--$544,075,000 for three earmarks funding the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the largest amount ever earmarked for the vessel. Known to some inside (and outside) the Navy as the “Little Crappy Ship,” the LCS has been a disaster since its inception, with problems that include a vaguely defined mission, a lack of firepower and survivability, and design flaws leading to cracks in the hull and corrosion. The number of ships the Navy intends to purchase has been cut in half, from 55 to 28, while the cost per ship has increased by 117.3 percent, from $220 million to $478 million.
And here’s one of my favorites: $54.6 million to allow the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop entrepreneurial programs. Yep. If you want to start a small business, just apply to the government for what amounts to a subsidy. Things will go swimmingly for a few years until that support goes away. After that, your business will probably fail, and you will be back with the SBA for more subsidies, forever and ever and ever.
There are earmarks for everything from providing cheap energy to coal country (Appalachia), subsidizing tickets at Ford’s theater (if they charged 19 cents more per ticket they wouldn’t need a subsidy), researching weird diseases in the Department of Defense (and cutting funding for things like PTSD research), and $30 million to encourage women to buy boats. Yep. $30 million in loan guarantees so more women will operate ferry companies.
Maybe I better change my wish list. I’d give up a giraffe for a cool fighter jet and a new tank.
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