Wartime Sacrifice

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House and Senate negotiations over the $80 billion Iraq war bill were delayed yesterday "after leading senators refused to attend, angry that the House will not accept the many pork-barrel and special interest items that the Senate has inserted into its version of the bill."

Speaking of pork, yesterday Citizens Against Government Waste released its 2003 Pig Book, which reports a 12% jump in pork-barrel projects compared to last year. That's 9,362 projects totaling $22.5 billion.

Here are a few appropriations to think about with April 15 around the corner:

* $4 million for the International Fertilizer Development Center

* $250,000 to implement the National Preschool Anger Management Project

* $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

* $750,000 for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The complete searchable Pig Book is available here.

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  1. #sarcasm

    Waste? Pork?

    With GOP control of both houses and the White House?

    Impossible! They’re the party of Fiscal Responsibility!

    Next thing you’ll be telling me that a GOP congressman
    wants to raise the no-bid defense contract limit from
    under $10 million to $200 million.

    Bah! Never happen.

    #end sarcasm

  2. if a government the size ours only wasted 22 billion every year, it would be considered transcendentally successful.

    I am reminded of an anecdote from David Stockman’s The Triumph Of Politics, in which Stockman relates that when Reagan came to Washington, he really thought he could slash the federal budget simply by cutting waste and fraud. Why? Because he actually had done that in California.

    But federal and state governments are different animals: the federal government is largely about transfer programs and defense, and state governments have far more bodies filling offices. There’s very little “waste” in federal transfer programs — by and large, the money gets where it’s supposed to go. The question is whether it should be moved around in the first place.

  3. Good quip from the Pig Book:

    “$5,670,000 for wood utilization research (Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Mich., Minn., Miss., N.C., Ore., and Tenn.). Apparently, the many mysteries of wood still elude federal researchers.”

  4. Wasn’t it Stockman who said all the supply-side economics talk was just a ruse to get a tax cut?

  5. hey whatever, the treasury’ll just print more of those green pieces of paper with those curious RFID^H^H^H^H polymer security threads in them. there’s more where they came from, not to fear! it is teh American Way? 😀

  6. I’m not surprised they don’t have a $3,000,000 Pork-Barrel Spending Hall of Infamy in Washington, DC.

  7. Too late, Steve. (RE: “What-a-freakin’-waste-of-tax-money” ANGER MANAGEMENT programs for the rest of us?)

    You should have thought about that when you gave your money to them last April-15. Be angry BEFORE, not AFTER the fact.

  8. Am I missing something here? Preschool Anger Management? They’re freakin’ PRESCHOOLERS! Of COURSE they don’t know how to share their toys. And isn’t this a parent’s problem? Not a Taxpayer problem?

    And the Baseball and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame? Excuse me, but isn’t everyone in baseball and most rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers a bunch of freakin’ gazillionaires?

    S***! How about some “Holy-S***-what-a-freakin’-waste-of-tax-money” anger management programs for the rest of us?

  9. It’s a stimulus package, and all of those bacon dollars are just there to stimulate the economy. Angry preschoolers are a constant drain on our otherwise sound economic fundamentals.

    Besides, if ordinary citizens held on to those 22 billion dollars, they’d spend it on ordinary non-economically-stimulating things like books and computers and getting their roofs repaired instead of crucial stimulating things like fertilizer research and baseball tourism.

    Don’t you trust our leaders? Do you WANT America to FAIL?
    –G

  10. Warfare tends to justify any and all spending. A look into the rampant government corruption and pork barrelling that went on during the Civil War (North & South) is evidence of this.

  11. yeah, but you really have to wonder about that preschool anger management thing. wonder which consulting firm (staffed by someone’s cousin or brother-in-law i’m sure) dragged down that contract.

    of course, there’s the even greater mystery of what sort of program gets made for preschoolers with anger management issues (which, last time i checked, is almost all of them)

  12. All funnin’ aside, this is just so terribly depressing. Each year when I get the annual Pig Book I feel so angry and sad and DISGUSTED about our Congressional Leaders’ complete disregard for their constituents that I lose all hope for the country. If these people are so inept at money management, how can they possibly have any other mangement skills?

  13. I hate to be sobering, but this 22 bil or so is a drop in the bucket. Why are we talking about this piddly crap? As libertarians, surely we must acknowledge that there are more tragic and exponentially larger examples of government waste. Sure, this crap will make the headlines for sheer ridiculousness, but if a government the size ours only wasted 22 billion every year, it would be considered transcendentally successful.

  14. “but if a government the size ours only wasted 22 billion every year, it would be considered transcendentally successful”

    Sounds like an endorsement for even bigger government…

  15. hey people, relax, watch some tv, go shopping and ask yourselves not what your country can do for you… oh wait! WHAT AM I THINKING? how to i get in on the pig book, it’s the american way 😀

  16. 22 Billion here, 22 Billion there and pretty soon, we’re talkin’ REAL money.

    Or is that Monet?

  17. thanks for playing! bubeye 😀

  18. Let me give you my perspective, and then all you guys can get back to regurgitating the party line. I’ll tell you who I am – I am a research assistant at a public university, and I vote Democrat; this is an actual liberal and not some strawman letting you know what he thinks.

    I think this sort of list is stupid. When they’re having a big expensive war, when they’re planning to set up an enormously expensive secret police program to make sure none of us are terrorists, do we really care about little things like this? No, this is a distraction. And it usually ends up picking on honest scientific research which benefits us all – and that’s a shame.

    $33 million for the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.

    God forbid the government fund research into animal diseases. Anthrax started as an animal disease. So did the flu. Not to mention all the people who make a living raising animals would like their animals not to die.

    $21 million for the Magdelana Ridge Observatory in New Mexico.

    How awful! The government funding basic research! Anybody remember how the Japanese ate our lunch in the 80s? Anybody remember WHY? Basic research is important.

    $7.7 million for the Alaska Wide Mobile Radio Program

    Horrible! Why should we pay to put in a public utility allowing rural people to communicate even in areas where phone lines and cell towers are hardly to be found? That’s as silly as FDR’s evil Rural Electrification Project, or the mega-evil interstate highway system.

    $6.2 million for wood utilization research.

    What a waste of time for the government to fund research in how to use wood. It’s not like they’re a major seller of wood from the national forests – oh wait, they are.

    $700,000 for the Medical College of Wisconsin
    $750,000 for University of Rhode Island Student Transportation Services

    Education! Ha! Why should the government waste our money educating people who can’t pay for all of it! And what do we need medical schools for anyway, when there’s such a surplus of doctors and medical care is so cheap. And what a waste for a school to buy a school bus – let the students walk 40 miles through the snow uphill both ways like you all did when you were young, it builds character.

    I can go on and on, but you get the idea. It’s not just that the money is nothing compared to what the government spends on war and such – it’s that a lot of these expenses are actually useful public goods and are a reasonable thing to ask people to pay for.

    My money is where my mouth is here – I’m basically a contractor who hasn’t been withheld enough from and get to mail a $1000 check for taxes in a few days. And I don’t mind it being spent on this stuff.

  19. Don’t I at least get a case of Turtle Wax, Wink?

  20. On the subject of public goods, here is an article written by David Friedman on Ronald Coase, who revolutionized the theory of externalities.

  21. education is the yokel of the masses! free you’re mind 😀

  22. Blarney,

    I believe you’re not a strawman, and you honestly believe what you say. But a lot of your arguments are “strawmannish”. What I am – and most other libertarians are, I think – saying is not that these things are bad in se. Education is good! Research is good! No one with any sense is against these things themselves.

    What we are against is government funding of these things. Your logic seems to be, “It’s good, therefore the government should fund it.” Let’s try another example. Babies need diapers, and their diapers have to be changed. Does that mean that there should be a Federal Office of Diaper-Changing? If you’re against the creation FODC, does that mean you don’t think babies’ diapers should be changed? That appears to be what you think of us.

    Secondly, the Federal government is supposed to exist for the benefit of all citizens: many of these programs benefit only a very small minority. To take one of your examples, “$750,000 for University of Rhode Island Student Transportation Services”: who does this benefit, exactly? URI students who need but don’t have their own transportation. That’s nice, but I fail to see why I, not a URI student or even a Rhode Island resident, should be asked to pay for it. If your answer is “because it’s a good thing, and it benefits the nation as a whole, even if only to a very small degree”, then I refer you to the FODC example above and have to ask where does it end? What shouldn’t the Feds fund?

    Thirdly, there’s no justification in the Constitution for spending on most of things. Congress has certain specific powers for certain specific ends. For better or worse, transportation for state college students, animal disease research, forestry, and astronomy are not among them. If it’s OK for us and Congress to ignore Congress’ enumerated powers, why isn’t it OK for them and us to ignore (say) the Fourth Amendment? (Even if you think the “general welfare” clause permits most of these things, how do you define transportation for URI students as “the general welfare”?)

    Frankly, the more I write, the more strawmannish your arguments seem…true, these things are not the majority of the budget, but there’s this thing called “principle” – I don’t have the right to pick your pocket just because, hey, it’s only one dollar, and I’m going to spend it on something worthwhile.

  23. Just to add to JDs comments, your sarcasm also sucked, Blarney. No offense.

  24. Ten million dollars for miscellaneous equipment for the Air Force Reserve. Ooh, scary. Now that’s a waste.

    CAGW is not a good government budget watcher, as it claims. It is an ideological organization devoted to cutting the public sector and reducing taxes, but it doesn’t have the balls to say so, because it’s more interested in manipulating opinion than honest debate. The Pig Book is great propaganda, because it feeds the illusion that drastically cutting government is a just a matter of getting rid of stupid programs that nobody will miss.

    In fact, even many of the absurb examples it highlights only seem stupid if you don’t know a damn thing about the issue being addressed (which is what the authors count on). Construction debris, largely wood, is the number one category of waste being deposited, at taxpayer expense, in taxpayer funded landfills. Reducing the amount that gets dumped by recycling it into new building materials would save tax dollars, as well as reducing demand for virgin lumber. It is the government’s business, and research into the processes is worth pursuing – not just for society at large (though I don’t think it’s wrong for the govenment to help society at large), but also for us taxpayers who are footing the bill to get rid of the stuff.

    But hey, why think when you can make a smart ass remark?

  25. “$20,500,000. Endangered Species Act–Pacicif Salmon Recovery.”

    Is salmon an endangered species? If so, why am I buying salmon by the pound at the supermarket?

    something’s missing here.

  26. Blarney is stunned. He’s sitting here with his mouth wide open, knowing that free-market logic is hard to refute.

    Oops! Time to go change my baby’s diapers. See ya! Bye!

  27. Tuning Fork, your fork needs tuning, you dolt!

    Don’t you realize that “Pacicif Salmon” is P.Salmon, a guy in the Northwest, head of a group of freeloaders with their left hand on the ballot button, and their right hand stretched out holding the hat?

  28. Alright, people, it’s time for me to explain the difference between a public good and a private good, and why the government should fund one and not the other. This is liberalism in a nutshell, folks, listen and learn.

    A private good is one which benefits a limited set of people who can exclude others from enjoying these benefits. A candy bar is a private good, because if I eat it you can’t eat it too. The government has no business funding private goods – they should not tax the many to feed the few.

    A public good is one which benefits a set of people who cannot exclude others from enjoying the benefits. People can come in and get a free ride on the public good. Scientific research published in a journal of record is a public good, because I can use the ideas and so can you. As nobody gets exclusive access to the results, the lack of profit motive causes a suboptimal amount of this good to be produced. Therefore, it is quite reasonable for the government to pay for some of it.

    Examples. The government SHOULD spend money researching diseases that do or could potentially infect it’s population. The government SHOULD NOT spend money to create a secret recipe for a tastier hamburger – McDonalds can and should fund that.

    The government should NOT build cars. The goverment SHOULD build roads. The government should not build modems. The government should regulate the telephone lines and see that they are kept in working order and people have access to them across the country. The government should not buy guns to give to people for self-protection. The government should, however, maintain a professional and effective police force.

    The government should not fund authors to create copyrighted novels or artworks. The government should, however, make sure that its citizens know how to read.

    And so on. Public goods belong in the public sphere. Private goods can be paid for out of our own pockets, and will be produced for a profit motive, but public goods will not be produced for profit alone.

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