Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Another Must Read from Owen

Pork by any other name still wasteful
Have you ever heard of "earmarks?" You probably have, but by another name: "pork." Earmarking has been a problem for some time, but in the past decade or so, it has become an epidemic. So what are earmarks anyway? Earmarks are spending items that are inserted into bills that are designated for a specific project. In the normal budgeting process, the legislature will debate how much money should be spent on a particular department or program and then grant that money. But the bureaucracy actually prioritizes and dispenses the funds. For example, in the latest transportation bill, Congress voted to spend about $286 billion on transportation items. Exactly what projects that money would be spent on would be determined by the federal and state bureaucracies. Earmarks are specific spending items that are slipped in at the last minute - usually behind closed doors. Legislators don’t put their names on the earmarks and no debate is ever held on them. In that same transportation bill, congressmen slipped in 6,371 earmarks, representing $24 billion - or about $80 for every man, woman, and child in America - of additional spending. Among the items included were $6 million for graffiti elimination in New York, $2.4 million for the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana, and $1.2 million for the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia.
Read the rest here. Brilliant!