Q: What Are We Fighting For? A: Peanut Storage.

The pork-encrusted Iraq emergency funding bill is sliding through the House:

"We have provided all of the money the president requested- and more," boasted House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer.

That includes $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million for spinach growers and $100 million for citrus growers.

It also includes $16 million to convert the old Food and Drug Administration building in southwest D.C. into more office space for the Capitol. That "emergency" expenditure comes at a time when taxpayers already shell out $600 million "more than double the original estimate" for a mammoth expansion of the Capitol, which includes 160,000 feet of new office space.

Brian Riedl has the whole ugly story:

The spending spree extends well beyond farm subsidies. It also includes:

  • $120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries;
  • $60 million for fisheries;
  • $35 million for NASA;
  • $5 million for those engaged in "breeding, rearing, or transporting live fish" ;
  • $6.4 million for additional salaries and expenses for the House of Representatives; and
  • $16 million for additional office space for the House of Representatives.
The supplemental would also provide approximately $735 million for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Under this provision, the 14 states that chose to expand SCHIP coverage without ensuring that they had resources to pay for it would be rewarded with a huge bailout from the 36 states that planned responsibly. The clear result would be to encourage more states to make massive new financial commitments and then wait for Washington—using money from taxpayers in other states—to bail them out.

I dunno, it sounds like a clever ploy to stop funding the war - stuff the bill with enough scrapple and voters will get sick of it even faster. "Well, I sort of want to make the Middle East safe for democracy... but I really, really hate the shrimp industry."

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  • Guy Montag||

    Well, if it was not done in the first 100 hours then it does not have to pass the "no pork, no earmarks" rule, right?

  • ||

    The health of the menhaden fishery is a matter of national security. If they can't grind up a billion tons of those slimy bastards for cosmetics and cat food, the economy will collapse.

  • An Indignant Moose||

    If the assholes (synonym for "Democrat") start with the bullshit, "starve the beast" crap, I'm gonna. I'm gonna. Aw hell.

    [yells] WARREN!!! Grape Nehi. Double. Extra Whole milk.

    goddammit. fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

    I've had it with these motherfucking politicians in this motherfucking congress.

    /takes noam chomsky blow up doll and goes home. hrumph

  • ||

    An Indignant Moose- Calm down, buddy. Wash a few peanuts down with a nice glass of menhaden oil and you'll feel better.

  • VM||

    thanks, JLM. phew.

    It's a combo of congestion and priapism of the trunk. A real helluva combo, you can imagine!

  • Guy Montag||

    But what about the children?

  • Egon||

    Millions. All I want is a measly couple of hundred thou, for "family quality" or whatever. Do you think Matthew Lesko could help me get some of that dough?

  • ||

    Stuff the bill with pork
    Don't hate on our service folks
    Piles of state made cheese

  • ||

    The Big Lie - voters hate pork.

    Voters love pork. They elect people who bring home the bacon.

  • ||

    Devid Weigel, December 12, 2006:

    This is the sort of stuff I'm talking about when I suggest libertarians can shack up with Democrats in the short term. It's not that Democrats are constitutionally against earmarking; it's that voter anger is so apparent and Republican abuse got so flagrant that the party of big government is more likely to pass reforms of the appropriations process than Republicans would have been if voters shoved them back over the finish line. Could Democrats re-corrupt the process given a few terms in power? Maybe, and then libertarians can dump them. The important part is being flexible.



    Looks like it didn't even take a few terms there, Kreskin.

  • ||

    Sorry to have misspelled your name, David. It's what I get for eating and typing at the same time.

  • ||

    hey moose, can i take this diet mt. dew off the stove yet? it's a-startin' to boil.

  • ||

    After we get done vomiting, what do we do?
    There are libertarians in every congressional district. Watch how "your" congressman votes then either praise him or blast him in a letter to the editor. If we are lucky, someone will put down the sports or entertainment pages long enough to see how their money is being wasted by Congress.

  • ||

    JasonL
    BAM!
    ya hit the nail right on the head


    or as that wisened old sage Homer Simpson would say

    mmmmm......baconnnnnn

  • ||

    The problem is that JasonL is right. The voters hate "pork." They love, however, "assistance" to their district/employer/favorite cause. As long as voters can't see the connection between their "good spending" and their neighbor's "pork," we're screwed.

    P.S. I don't exempt myself from that illogical thinking. I am happy NASA got extra money, and would merrily give them the menhaden fishers share, too.

  • ||

    "Money for peanut storage in Georgia..."

    Jimmy Carter (aka History's Greatest Monster) has his goobery little hands all over this, I bet. Was their additional pork for Habitat for Humanity?

    Seriously though, is there any legitimate reason that these emergency* funding bills get porked up besides "that's the way it's done / I gotta give my quo or else I won't get anymore quid"? Can't folks wait a few months for the general appropriations bills for this crap?

    If Pelosi and Hoyer don't strip the pork, the Rep's should land a few hard ones to their kissers over this.

    * When do ongoing military operations become part of the DoD budget instead of being "emergencies?" Is this like an IT base vs. project dollar kind of thing?

  • ||

    Hey, howza' 'bout a little taste for people who post comments in blogs? Aren't they critical to maintaining revenue streams in the telecommunications industry? Heck, just send me a case of bourbon, and I promise I won't come back and lobby for more for a least a month!

    Maker's Mark will be fine; my willingness to sacrifice for the greater good obviates any need for Booker's Choice. You're welcome.

  • Guy Montag||

    Looks like it didn't even take a few terms there, Kreskin.

    Yea, more like 100 hours :)

  • ||

    That whole "Pack everything on the truck, and start over in New Hampshire" plan, is looking more ponderable. Hmmm... hmmm.

  • Antarctic Penguin||

    Warren, I would move to New Hampshire but it's too damned hot for me.

  • VM||

    Hey Crane - get some bacon grease from Brotherben and add it to the 'dew. mmm. that's a tasty combo.

    PJ O'Rourke (Parliament of Whores) nails the pork issue - entitlement to the bottomless pit of free money.

    That and two free passes to "Grindhouse".

  • ed||

    What, no more cash for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and Mausoleum? It's an outrage!

  • Bhh||

    This sort of talk only emboldens the enemy. They hate us for our peanuts.

  • Dave W.||

    This is peanuts relative to the military spending qua military spending that should be cut.

    Don't get me wrong -- this is disgusting, too -- but it pales in comparison to the overspending on the weapons and soldiers for imperialist adventures and unneeded "defense."

  • ||

    Sounds like a bad case of peanuts envy to me.

  • ||

    "The voters hate "pork." They love, however, "assistance" to their district/employer/favorite cause. As long as voters can't see the connection between their "good spending" and their neighbor's "pork," we're screwed."

    The Coastal Conservation Association is continually having a pissing contest with the commercial fishing industry and trying to get them regulated/limited/shut down to improve the recreational fisheries. Apparently the menhaden/shrimp people have more lobbying money than the CCA. Do you know where your emegency defense $$ would be going if it were the other way around? Boat ramps and inlet dredging projects. We are screwed.

    I must disclose that I am a member of the CCA. Damn netters are killing all my flounder.....I am a dirty whore......

  • JIMMYDAGEEK||

    They're just upset that they didn't have the nuts to do this before the Dems...

  • ||

    de stijl,

    I suspect that they aren't waiting for the general appropriates bills because the anti-pork rules the majority adopted apply to general appropriations bills.

    The question I have is whether this is just old-fashioned porking, of if there is a strategy related to getting people to vote for or against the underlying military-funding bill by loading it up with tasty/repellent pork.

  • VM||

    "this is just old-fashioned porking"

    No, Moose. Don't read it that way... Naughty.

  • ||

    "The question I have is whether this is just old-fashioned porking, of if there is a strategy related to getting people to vote for or against the underlying military-funding bill by loading it up with tasty/repellent pork."

    If that is the strategy and it successfully kills the bill, I'm all for it. But it probably won't.

  • ||

    They hate us for our peanuts.

    Maybe we should store our peanuts there so we won't have to store them here.

  • ||

    What's that din I hear, coming from the general direction of Washington? Why, it sounds like quacking...

  • ||

    I'm not sure voters are as attached to the pork as JasonL says.

    Tom Cogburn was reelected to congress twice and then was elected to the senate after he left the congress. I believe he had been a principled and vehement opponent of pork all during that time.

    The republicans probably hated him more then the democrats. He was always pointing out what a bunch of lying, hypocritcal, pigs the republicans were when it came to pork barrel spending.

    Regarding the current legislation does anyone have a count for the number of times the democrats used the line "restore fiscal responsibility" during the last election?

  • ||

    ...is just old-fashioned porking, of if there is a strategy related to getting people to vote for or against the underlying military-funding bill by loading it up with tasty/repellent pork.

    If it passes, we get porked the old-fashioned way. If it's defeated, it was a clever new strategy.

  • ||

    jf,

    I, for one, didn't expect the Democrats to eliminate pork, just to reduce it. Don Young's Bridge to Nowhere is a $500 million project. The unwanted destroyer Trent Lott inserted, to be build at a shipyard in Mississippi, was over $1 billion.

    $16 million for peanut farmers is certainly undesireable, but try to pull any muscles straining to find equivalency.

  • ||

    In other surprising news, a study has found college students drink and take drugs.

  • thoreau||

    No blood for peanut oil!

  • ||

    SHEESH,
    You buncha whiners!

    Democrat fiscal responsibility is defined as
    ..."not pissing it away on that pesky republican war on TERROR...!

    muslims dont do pork, so why spend it over there?

  • Guy Montag||

    All this pork talk pulled me to King Street Blues for ribs and fries. Yummy!

  • ||

    I envision huge papier mache Mr. Peanut puppets at the next ANSWR rally.

  • Dave W.||

    All this pork talk pulled me to King Street Blues for ribs and fries. Yummy!

    Military contracting is pork.

  • VM||

    de stijl - who do you like: giant Mr. Peanut or giant Stay Puft Marshmellow Man.

    $16 million is a petty amount relative to other crap out there.

    brotherben: lol

  • ||

    who do you like: giant Mr. Peanut or giant Stay Puft Marshmellow Man.

    I say we wait until a monstrous Hershey's Milk Chocalate bar crushes both (and itself in the process) and we can enjoy the tasty results.

  • Bhh||

    I've thought the last few years that not getting govt handouts/pork/subsidies in the 00s is like not owning tech stocks in the 90s. I'm missing out on a gold rush here. I wonder how many llamas I can fit in my backyard. Maybe I can make ethanol in my basement.

  • vm||

    it's a-rainin' nuts, hallelujah!

  • ||

    Gives new meaning to the phrase "it costs peanuts."

    Sorry, I couldn't help myself...

  • Guy Montag||

    Military contracting is pork.

    Military spending in San Francisco is pork. My work is in a fully enumerated, no BS, defense role.

    bhh,
    Maybe I can make ethanol in my basement.

    It is pretty easy to do, but unless you get a handout (or free energy) it is hard to make a profit by creating a chemical that takes more energy to make than it gives when burned.

  • ||

    "Military spending in San Francisco is pork. My work is in a fully enumerated, no BS, defense role."

    The perfect demonstration of JasonL's point. People hate pork, but that project in my district wasn't pork.

    "It is pretty easy to do, but unless you get a handout (or free energy) it is hard to make a profit by creating a chemical that takes more energy to make than it gives when burned."

    I guess that's why no one buys batteries.

  • ||

    Military spending in San Francisco is pork. My work is in a fully enumerated, no BS, defense role.

    Ding ding ding. JasonL and JLM win! It's only pork when its given to them durned libruls in SanFran.

  • ||

    Ah, beaten to the punch by joe...

  • Salvius||

    We assume these things are all just irrelevant pork only because the alternative is even more terrifying: That our Iraq strategy is somehow dependent on an adequate supply of peanuts, spinach, and shrimp.

    Perhaps we've decided that all we need for a stable Iraq is to get them hooked on Thai food.

  • Guy Montag||

    The perfect demonstration of JasonL's point. People hate pork, but that project in my district wasn't pork.

    But joe, I don't work anywhere near the district where I vote. Not even the same State.

  • ||

    Yeah, Guy, but you get the money.

    Ergo, it can't possibly be pork. You know what you do, and it's important, damn it!

  • thoreau||

    $120 million for the shrimp and menhaden fishing industries

    Here's the deal: Cut this item from the bill, and I promise to do my part for America's shrimp industry by eating more shrimp. Call it the market-based solution.

    It's not always easy helping to prop up the American economy, but I'm willing to do my part by eating shrimp wrapped in cappocola.

  • Guy Montag||

    Yeah, Guy, but you get the money.

    Ergo, it can't possibly be pork. You know what you do, and it's important, damn it!


    So, I must work in a non-enumerated area with no compensation to support the government for it not to be pork?

  • Rhywun||

    I dunno, it sounds like a clever ploy to stop funding the war - stuff the bill with enough scrapple and voters will get sick of it even faster.

    I know... why not tack on a few billion as a down-payment on the mortgage bailout that we'll be paying for soon enough?

  • Guy Montag||

    Oh yea, YOU got 1/3 of my bonus yesterday too so stop your whining :)

  • ||

    "So, I must work in a non-enumerated area with no compensation to support the government for it not to be pork?"

    Could Guy possibly be this stupid?

    OK, if two people agree with Guy that my point is unclear, any two people, I'll write an explanation.

  • Dave W.||

    So, I must work in a non-enumerated area with no compensation to support the government for it not to be pork?

    You're pork. They should cut your job tomorrow. The US would not be invaded and taxes could be lowered. They should sue you to get the "bonus" back, too.

    I mean, people sometimes wonder what I am really doing on a libertarian site, but I work in the private sector want to cut government spending.

    What are you doing [i]you[/i] on a libertarian site? To me it would be the same as if someone came on here and admitted that their career was able-bodied welfare recipient.

    I really have a hard time believing that the actual libertarians here put up with you as well as they do. I really just don't get that.

  • ||

    I'm calling it the Guy Montag rule: if a commenter appears to be playing dumb by pretending not to understand a point that undermines his position, upon invocation of the Rule, no explaination will be provided unless two additional commenters express similar confusion about that point.

  • ||

    "Sounds like a bad case of peanuts envy to me."

    brotherben wins the thread!


    Side issue: Can we stop the "more-libertarian-than-thou" b.s.? Debate the issue, please. I don't care if you're John Galt incarnate or a welfare fraudster, I want to hear your arguments. Thank you. [steps off soap box.]

  • VM||

    joe - more important: how does it get codified in the drinking game rules?

  • ||

    So, since everyone loves spending on them, is there any reasonably objective way to talk about pork or should we all just get our Byrd on?

  • VM||

    Get our pork Byrd on
    Time to rake in the moolah
    it is all for me

  • Guy Montag||

    Yea, being the only enumerated power supporting libertarian in a world of Socialists is a lonely feeling . . .

    VM, the drinking game rule is getting joe and Dave W. to comment against you within five comments of each other. DRINK! :)

  • Dave W.||

    I want to hear your arguments

    My argument is that HnR is selective in the pork they cover, and selective in a strategic way.

    Military contracting is where the big pork is, but you won't see an HnR post complaining about that.

    Instead they make a fetish out of something like the pork complained of in this post.

    I don't know why the pork selection story priorities are so far out of whack here. But they are and it is pretty noticeable. When "Liberal Avenger" (or whatever she was called) made that post about X billion dollars in Iraq, and yet you libertarians post about "Liberal Avenger," that is I am pretty sure what she was driving at. everyone here acted like that was some kind of dodge. It wasn't. It is hard to take a "free markets" site seriously if they don't have a few cross words for Cheney and Halliburton every once in awhile.

    Did Reason magazine make a point of laying off the military industrial complex prior to 9/11? Not having been here that long (I came via a Lessig link to a Walker post about copyright), I don't know, but am curious.

    When walking, talking pork like Guy Montag comes in here on one of the supposed anti-pok threads and makes jokes about pork sandwiches, the irony gets a bit thick.

  • Dave W.||

    Although I found it even thicker when they did that puff post on kwais (Arabic for "sweet").

  • Guy Montag||

    When walking, talking pork like Guy Montag comes in here on one of the supposed anti-pok threads and makes jokes about pork sandwiches, the irony gets a bit thick.

    Ribs, Dave W., I had yummy, juicy pork ribs for lunch and it was not a joke.

  • Dave W.||

    Ribs, sandwich, whatever. To me it is just the AMT I still have to pay (having fled the bulk of my unjust war tribute with a difficult and painful move).

  • ||

    Military industrial complex, meh. Suffice it to say that there is a consensus among all but anarchists that a military is a legitimate function of government.

    Certainly we can look to individual projects - like unwanted destroyers - and see clear pork. That said, you aren't advancing your cause by arguing that that the whole DoD budget is piggy. You have to drill down deeper to argue against which capabilities it is obvious we don't need to pay for.

  • Dave W.||

    which capabilities it is obvious we don't need to pay for.

    I thought I was specific. i specifically identified Guy Montag, kwais (Arabic for sweet) and the Iraq War.

  • Guy Montag||

    Certainly we can look to individual projects - like unwanted destroyers - and see clear pork. That said, you aren't advancing your cause by arguing that that the whole DoD budget is piggy. You have to drill down deeper to argue against which capabilities it is obvious we don't need to pay for.

    At the last Reasonoid gathering, Radley said he heard that the agency that I support "does not have a good record". Which, you can say that based on lofty expectations. From what I have seen here, they are doing quite fine and incrimentally improving the system, as one would expect from a properly run organization. So, I just replied "it depends on what information you have and what part of it you are looking at".

    Oh, this agency seems to be on the general shit-list of the Reason staff if both Ron and Radley's reactions are any indication. Disagreement does not have to be ugly.

  • Dave W.||

    Guy, the agency you support, and its support organizations, could be liquidated tomorrow in their entirety and it would not make an appreciable, meaningful security difference for the US.

  • ||

    JasonL,

    I think that is what Dave W. is complaining about. Reason doesn't "dig down deeper" into military spending to separate pork from necessary programs. Since they deem national defense a legitimate function of government, they don't look into the military budget and consider the items therein on their merits. On the other hand, they don't feel that, say, medical assistance to the needy is a legitimate function of government, so they run into the opposite problem - they simply denounce it all as pork, and don't bother to consider the efficacy and value of any individual projects.

    Or so it seems. I'm sure there are exceptions, but that's the general trend.

  • ||

    Drinking rule #1:

    If you breath, you drink.


    can I get an amen?

  • VM||

    every breath you take
    time to pour a big, strong drink
    that is the first rule

  • Guy Montag||

    Dave W.

    Actually, you can go around picking single programs and agencies to delete and make that statement true. Thing is, it is all laced together and degrading it's overall effectiveness is not a way to provide an adequate defense.

    The same way I can go through your car and pick individual fasteners and say ther removal will not reduce the safety or performance of the vehicle.

    Very cute argument technique. If you are not working at The Nation by now, you should be.

  • ||

    Dave:

    That isn't specific. A destroyer that nobody asked for is specific.

    You aren't convincing when you argue that the Iraq war is pork. It is a policy decision that is right or wrong for other reasons. It is materially different from a bridge to nowhere.

    If you disagree with the Iraq war for other reasons, this is obviously spending we shouldn't be engaging in. Attacking the war as a way to feed the military industrial complex is just not a compelling way to argue.

  • ||

    Dave W,

    I wish this site could make up its mind about who it's shilling for, antiwar Democrats or the military-industrial complex. It's sooooooo confusing.

    joe,

    a strategy related to getting people to vote for or against the underlying military-funding bill by loading it up with tasty/repellent pork.

    Right. And when my parish priest "porked" his secretary, it was probably to teach her a lesson about the dangers of extramarital affairs.

  • ||

    joe:

    I get your point. Note that Dave is calling the whole deployment pork, which leaves me scratching my head around what kind of drilling down he is trying to get to.

    In general, I agree though. Cato has defense policy guys that are up on this stuff in a way that Reason isn't. It is worth noting how much we are spending on F-22 development vs. what the gains are expected to be.

    To me, a pork claim would be something like "Okay, we need an interdiction aircraft. The F15 still rules the sky. Everyone else's next gen fighters got scrapped or scaled back to unrecognizability. Why do we need something this expensive?"

    That is using the term pork in the same way we mean it for other programs. A waste of money that is notable primarily for it being a waste of money. A war is just too big to be thought of that way.

  • ||

    joe,

    It's sort of like when you're looking at your annual budget, trying to find a way to save money. If you see a budget item for "Christmas decorations" for $1000, and another for "Food" worth $7500, you're more likely to just cut the decorations rather than hunting through your food budget to figure out how to spend less on that necessity.

  • Dave W.||

    I think that is what Dave W. is complaining about. Reason doesn't "dig down deeper" into military spending to separate pork from necessary programs. Since they deem national defense a legitimate function of government, they don't look into the military budget and consider the items therein on their merits. On the other hand, they don't feel that, say, medical assistance to the needy is a legitimate function of government, so they run into the opposite problem - they simply denounce it all as pork, and don't bother to consider the efficacy and value of any individual projects.

    That is definitely what I think about the failure of the approach here on military related spending. I think the US needs to have a military, but only a military strong enough to discourage potential foreign invaders.

    I never thought about their approach on social spending quite that way, but I wish I had. It sounds like a pretty apt criticism.

    My main beef with HnR style libertarianism is that I think they complain about regulation too much, relative to how much they complain about spending. I understand that regulation is reflected in all kinds of hidden costs related to doing business in the private sector, but I see taxing and spending as a much bigger imfringement on the average person's freedom than the regulatory costs that HnR tends to get so worked up over.

    Which is not to say that I like government regulation, but when the regulation impairs a freedom excercised primarily by the wealthy (eg, freedom to consolidate business, freedom to lobby, freedom in running limited liability corporations), I tend to have a lot more sympathy for the aims and efficacy of the regulation, and proceed to wish that HnR would get relatively more militant about cutting portions of the government where we actually count the costs in real dollars, the real kind of dollars used to buy yummy pork ribs or Rallye Chargers.

  • ||

    Another thought occurrs to me. It would be hard to argue that Reason is soft on the war. The claim Dave is making is that they are soft on the war AS PORK, which is like being soft on tobacco companies for consuming little bits of paper.

  • ||

    JasonL,

    Let's compare the Iraq War to the Big Dig. Seriously, I don't have a point to make, let's just run with this and see where it goes.

    Is the overthrow of a foreign tyrant and the installation of a friendly democracy in its place a legitimate function of government? Is improving transportation facilities in a manner that improves the urban landscape a legitimate function of government? If you claim that one or both of these is illegitimate, is every dollar spent on them pork? Is the definition of pork really that subjective?

    How about the sleazy contractors, and the combination of inattention and corruption on the part of government officials who don't supervise them closely enough? Can there be pork in the way the pursuit of a legitimate government function is undertaken?

    Your thoughts?

  • ||

    Crimethink,

    If, in your scenario, my deficit was $1700, I'd look at both.

    Reason doesn't.

  • ||

    crimethink,

    Food budget =$7500. OK. Wouldn't someone making an honest effort to look at their budget break this down into grocery bills, dining out, and catering parties?

    I don't see how "Hey, you've got to eat, you don't have to decorate your house" makes your Christmas tree count as pork, while the money you spend on your formal dinner parties is sacrosanct.

  • ||

    This is the sort of stuff I'm talking about when I suggest libertarians can shack up with Democrats in the short term.

    What Mr. Weigel didn't realize, or didn't care to share, was that the Dems' interest in libertarians was more one-night-stand than shack-up material. The Democrat harem is full of much sexier women than us (NEA, labor unions, trial lawyers, Brady Campaign, etc), and all of them hate our guts for one reason or another. This relationship really had no staying power from the getgo.

  • Guy Montag||

    I tend to have a lot more sympathy for the aims and efficacy of the regulation, and proceed to wish that HnR would get relatively more militant about cutting portions of the government where we actually count the costs in real dollars, the real kind of dollars used to buy yummy pork ribs or Rallye Chargers.

    The government bought neither of them. I did.

    See, here is how it works. The government decides to do a program (even one you agree with) and, if they do not have the talent contained in theit SES/GS/Uniformed/Other workforces, they contact industry to help them with it.

    In this industry, we hire people with certain areas of knowledge to help figure out these problems. The problem solution is what they paid for and, if the problem is not solved right they can even withold funds, or even demand new helpers from industry.

    I know, I am a suspect source, since I actually know something about this industry and I don't wear sandals at rallys, but anyway, the federal government paid the firm I work for, which some portion of that money went to overhead, some went to the stockholders, some went to me, but the feds and Virginia hijacked a bunch of that money before I got it.

    A few weeks ago this firm provided services to the NFL for Super Bowl security. We did not charge them, we were testing a system. We even had federal revenuers in the truck helping them do their job with our gear. I still got paid out of overhead.

    See? The feds did not pay for my ribs and hybrids, nor did the NFL, I did.

    I will say, the chain of funds that you describe is a quite common myth with many of the Active Army officers I have served with. Goes to prove that even Socialists can vote Republican.

  • ||

    Dave W.,

    "I think the US needs to have a military, but only a military strong enough to discourage potential foreign invaders."

    I disagree. Many people, to one extent or another, believe that it is a legitimate function of government to have a military that can project our power overseas.

    My question to you is, do you consider every dollar spent on the second objective to be pork? Or would you distinguish between the efficient, effective use of tax dollars spent for purposes you disagree with vs. ineffective, inefficient spending on those same objectives?

  • Guy Montag||

    The Democrat harem is full of much sexier women than us

    None of them are as sexy as Katherine!

  • Russ 2000||

    Blood for peanut oil.

  • Dave W.||

    The government decides to do a program (even one you agree with) and, if they do not have the talent contained in theit SES/GS/Uniformed/Other workforces, they contact industry to help them with it.

    This is a distinction without a difference.

    You are the government, and you are a part of the government that should be cut. The NFL can pay for its own security in my libertarian world.

    I am glad that the air defenses managed to shoot down flight 93, but really, the overall performance was suspiciously bad, same as it was for the first WTC bombing and Oklahoma City. No accountability and no tangible benefit from the massive spending. Better to just give up the ghost on that stuff and give the taxpayers their money back so they can better afford life insurance policies.

  • ||

    None of them are as sexy as Katherine!

    Ms. Mangu-Ward may
    Have nice eyes but lawmakers
    Much prefer money to looks

  • ||

    "Can there be pork in the way the pursuit of a legitimate government function is undertaken?

    Your thoughts?"

    Eh, I guess I think of 'waste' or 'inefficiency' as different from 'pork'. The latter term implies to me a sense of fundalmentally unnecessary whereas the former terms imply sloppy execution of something that may be necessary.

    I would say off the top of my head:

    Bridge to nowhere - clear pork.

    Destroyer unrequested by the military - clear pork.

    Big Dig - not so much pork as phenomenal waste and possible corruption.

    Iraq war - an overarching policy decision not in itself describable in this way.

    No Bid to Halliburton - waste and possible corruption if a competitive bid by an alternate provider was plausible. Again, not so much pork.

  • Guy Montag||

    Dave W.,

    You already have Cindy Sheehan, Jane Fonda, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich and, on even numbered days, Hillary Clinton on your side. Convince a few more million people and you might get someplace.

  • Guy Montag||

    The NFL can pay for its own security in my libertarian world.

    Would a corporation offering those services free in order to have a real-world test of a system would be prohibited? See, that is what I described.

    Then again, if you can't tell the difference between ribs and a sandwitch . . .

  • VM||

    Big Dig is not pork
    No bid to Halliburton
    Bridge to nowhere -- pork!

  • Dave W.||

    I disagree. Many people, to one extent or another, believe that it is a legitimate function of government to have a military that can project our power overseas.

    My question to you is, do you consider every dollar spent on the second objective to be pork? Or would you distinguish between the efficient, effective use of tax dollars spent for purposes you disagree with vs. ineffective, inefficient spending on those same objectives?


    How refreshing it is to get some perceptive questions that call for a nuanced answer. I am going to answer a slightly different question than the one you posed, but I think this is the information you are seeking.

    It is not so much that I am against a powerful military that projects power per se, but I have a couple caveats that really puts me at odds with how the US achieves its objective of having a power projecting military.

    The first is that I don't think the US should be extra careful not to enter unjust wars. I see unjust war as sinful, unethical, wrong. I think The Iraq War was an unjust war. So was the Spanish American War. Maybe even Viet Nam, although that one is kind of on the borderline to me. This first caveat is easy: every dollar spent prosecuting an unjust war is pork. That is why it is so easy for me to say that the current Iraq War (but not The Gulf War or Afghanistan War) is entirely pork.

    The next caveat is that I think different economic classes of citizen benefit from the military in different ways. I think all economic classes benefit from the fact that foreign invaders can't invade. To the extent that the military is only large enough to prevent this outcome, I think that all citizens should help bear the costs of this portion of the military. As you may have guessed, I think this portion of the military is a quarter or less of the US military spending we actually have.

    Which means that I think upwards of three quarters of the military is for power projecting. I think this military function, while valid, disproportionately benefits wealthy citizens and that these benefits trickle down very little. I will get back to how this caveat about different benefits to different classes caveat impacts my concept of military pork after one more caveat.

    My third and last caveat is that different economic classes make different types of in-kind payments for the military. What I mean by this is that if there is a serious enough war to require conscription, then poor men die (probabilistically) whether they want to or not, but wealthy men tend to die (probabilistically again) only if they choose to. Of course this doesn't apply to wars where only tiny numbers of US troops die, but it is a cost of war that is hard to translate directly into dollars, but remains real and important to me as far as what is just for each economic class to pay. Before moving on to the pork question, it is also noted that large numbers of men are likelier to die in a war where there is genuine invasion concern, rather than one where the US is strategically projecting power.

    So what do I think is military pork and what is not?

    Well, if we changed the tax structure so that only wealthy people paid for the military, then I wouldn't think any of it was pork. If the military could pull dollars only from capital gains and inheritance taxes and salaries over a million a year, then, so far as I am concerned, those wealthy people can make the military as big and power projecting-y as they want. It is for their benefit, it is their money, and I have every confidence that, as an economic class, they are well represented in the part of the gov't that determines the budgets. I still don't think there is license for unjust war, but any other spending in the context of a paid-for-by-the-capitalists military is a-okay w/ me.

    HOWEVER, I don't see the tax structure changing in this direction anytime soon. So, when I talk about military pork, I assume the tax structure that we are stuck with, where non-wealthy people pay for the military, at least in part, maybe even large part. Under this simplifying assumption, I say that the portion used to defend the borders is neccessary, and the rest is pork, the power projecting part becomes pork because it is paid for largely by poor people, largely to benefit wealthier people. That is a wasteful wealth transfer, to my mind, that overwhelms the power projection benefits. Now, I can't separate the (good) border defending part from the (porky) power projecting part dollar for dollar or private for private or private contractor for private contractor, but I can say that upwards of three quarters of current military spending is pork to my way of thinking. Even if you cut out the unjust Iraq War in its entirety, there would still be tons of pork, way outweighing the peanut and fish subsidies.

    Probably a longer answer than you wanted, but it is kind of a "complex" (ha ha) issue.

  • Dave W.||

    "The first is that I don't think the US should be extra careful not to enter unjust wars."

    uhhhh:

    --The first is that the US needs to be more careful to avoid unjust wars.--

  • ||

    As others have stated National Defense is a legitimate role of national government. Money for peanut storage not so much.

    Furthermore, if you look at this article by Robert Samuelson The Stubborn Welfare State you will find a pie chart that compares federal spending in 1956 to federal spending in 2006.

    In 1956 we spent 60 percent of the budget on defense and 22 percent on entitlements. In 2006 those figures had flipped and we spent 60 percent of the budget on entitlements and 20 percent on defense.

    If entitlement spending had not exploded the budget would be in good shape today. Furthermore, when the baby boomer demographic bomb goes off the budget is going to be in terrible shape.

    If I understand correctly, when the demographic bomb goes off even if we spent on nothing but defense and entitlements the growth in entitlements would still bankrupt the government.

  • Dave W.||

    Another thing I hate is when half the country says that runaway military spending is okay because the social spending is worse, and the other half of the contry says that runaway social spending is okay because runaway military spending is worse.

  • ||

    Dave W.

    Your complaint about the size of the US military and its ability to project power betrays an interesting ignorance of history.

    There was a nation called the Soviet Union that existed for many years. How much do you think they would have been willing to project their power if the US military had not been able to project their power in opposition?

    You may want to consult the citizens of Aghanistan, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary before you answer that question.

  • Dave W.||

    You may want to consult the citizens of Aghanistan, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary before you answer that question.

    Why? I don't consult Africans about whether they would prefer clean water. I prefer my tax monies to benefit the US and Canada. If I want to give to other countries, then I prefer to do that with non-tax giving.

  • Dave W.||

    To answer your question more directly:

    I grew up believing that the Soviet Union was a true threat to the US.

    The post-9-11 experience has caused my to challenge that belief, to the point where I am not so sure. I used to think Viet Nam was (of course) a just war. Now it seems borderline-unjust to me.

  • ||

    Dave W.

    One other aspect you miss about the size of the US military is that it is one giant subsidy for European cradle to grave welfare state.

    How big of a welfare state (including universal health coverage) do you think Europe could have supported if they had to fund a military large enough to defend themselves? They did not have to fund that military because they could live under the US security envelope.

    Furthermore, heavy US military spending has acted as a massive peace subsidy. The history of a heavily armed Europe is a very nasty one. There were substantial periods in the 20th century where Europe was a slaughterhouse.

    Not having heavily armed European nations is a substantial reason that Europe did not become a slaughterhouse again after world war 2.

    You can throw Japan into that equation also.

  • Dave W.||

    Not having heavily armed European nations is a substantial reason that Europe did not become a slaughterhouse again after world war 2.

    When I go to pay my taxes, I don't care if Europe and Japan are giant slaughterhouses or not. I don't agree with you that they would be absent the US military, but ultimately, it is none of my business. If I cared about saving lives, then I would save African lives because they are cheap to save, but, like I said above, that should be a matter for my private charitable giving, not my tax bill and Guy Montag's "overhead" budget.

    If we really cared about Japan not being a giant slaughterhouse, then we would have accepted the terms of surrender they offerred before we had US bombs make the island into a giant slaughterhouse. Irony getting thick again.

  • ||

    Dave W.

    I said You may want to consult the citizens of Aghanistan, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary before you answer that question.

    You said

    Why? I don't consult Africans about whether they would prefer clean water. I prefer my tax monies to benefit the US and Canada. If I want to give to other countries, then I prefer to do that with non-tax giving.



    Uh, Dave W, Aghanistan, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary were all countries that were either invaded by the Soviets or had Democratic revolutions crushed by Soviet action.

    Where do you think the Soviets would have stopped if the US military did not act as a counterbalance to their power?

    Believe it or not history did not start on 9/11, you would not look so ignorant if you remembered that.

  • Khalid Say What Now?||

    You may want to consult the citizens of Aghanistan . . .

    In 1986 he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. He travelled to Afghanistan to fight with the mujaheddin against the Soviets; three of his brothers are thought to have died in the conflict.

  • ||

    Dave W.

    Truly you are the gift that keeps on giving.

    First you provide a marvelous example of the moral high ground

    When I go to pay my taxes, I don't care if Europe and Japan are giant slaughterhouses or not.



    The problem with that statement is the slaughterhouses (giant or otherwise) you don't care about did not stay localized. Ask the Chinese and Koreans how having a heavliy armed Japan worked out for them.

    In case you forgot it did not work out very well for them. Might want to google Rape of Nanking and Comfort Girls to get a quick review of the history you seem to be so good at forgetting.

  • ||

    porking only good

    in one man one woman world

    ask pat robertson

  • jf||

    I, for one, didn't expect the Democrats to eliminate pork, just to reduce it. Don Young's Bridge to Nowhere is a $500 million project. The unwanted destroyer Trent Lott inserted, to be build at a shipyard in Mississippi, was over $1 billion.

    $16 million for peanut farmers is certainly undesireable, but try to pull any muscles straining to find equivalency.


    Sorry for the delay in responding, joe. I was merely pointing out that Mr. Weigel's cautious optimism regarding the Democrats and their new-found spending restraint was not only completely unwarranted, but didn't even last but barely 2 months into the new Democratic Congress. I agree that the two examples you gave are far more egregious than the peanut subsidy, but I don't recall whether or not they were tacked onto military appropriations bills, either, but I don't think that was the case.

  • jf||

    BTW, the mentioned agro subsidies, all 3 of them, add up to $199 million. A few more hundred million (like the bailout of SCHIP, and you are talking about some real money, none of which benefits the vast majority of Americans, and yet we have to pay for it.

  • jf||

    What Mr. Weigel didn't realize, or didn't care to share, was that the Dems' interest in libertarians was more one-night-stand than shack-up material. The Democrat harem is full of much sexier women than us (NEA, labor unions, trial lawyers, Brady Campaign, etc), and all of them hate our guts for one reason or another. This relationship really had no staying power from the getgo.

    Most people who know enough history would have known that before the election, crimethink. Thinking anything long-term could possibly come from a Dem-libertarian alliance is extremely naive. At best an issue-by-issue alliance can be beneficial, but that doesn't win elections.

  • ||

    jf,

    A libertarian who disdains partial victories?

    Well knock me over with a feather! I remember reading Weigel's pieces during the election, and none of them - including the one your quoted - suggested that the Democrats would eliminate pork, just that they would be better. And if this is the worst example you can bring up after two months - and you're obviously highly motivated to find them - then I'd say that Weigel's take is holding up pretty well.

  • ||

    joe,

    Please stop trying to paint me as something I'm not. There's only one person in this conversation who's an unabashed partisan, so I would appreciate if you stopped projecting.

  • ||

    If I was arguing your position, I'd try to change the subject, too. I'd probably even try to turn it into a discussion of my opponent's credibility.

    Just to refresh your memory, the subject was Weigel's predictions about how the new Democratic majority would handle pork. You asserted that he predicted the Democrats would eliminate it. I replied that you mischaracterized him, when he had actually stated they would be better, not absolutely pure.

    That's when you called me a partisan, in an attempt to change the subject.

  • ||

    joe,

    I just re-read to be sure, which is something you should try. I never stated anywhere that Weigel said the Dems would eliminate pork.

    And fine, you're not being partisan, just an obtuse imbecile.

  • ||

    I guess I've either found how far you look at dead threads, or else you realized that I never said the words you put in my mouth, joe.

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