Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Getting your share of federal pork?
A half million dollars for a teapot museum; $1 million for the development of waterless toilets; $600,000 for reminding folks about Abe Lincoln's bicentennial birthday. The 2006 Pig Book is out, and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) says its annual publication underlines a wide range of tax dollar waste.

On a per capita basis, Alaska is once again on top of the pig pile, pulling in $325 million for pet projects, including the sea otter commission. But the CAGW says there is plenty of other pork for grilling.

The International Fund for Ireland, the report says, was given $13 million, some of which went for the World Toilet Summit. Another $1 million went for development of waterless toilets. Missouri got almost $6 million to relieve traffic in a town of only 50,000 people. Oregon welcomed $400,000 for a museum about two Chinese immigrants. Iowa rounded up $250,000 for its cattle congress. Nevada knocked down a cool $100,000 for a boxing club. New York landed $50,000 for a Tito Puente memorial project.

All of these projects have defenders, people who say this is not pork at all, but money well spent to spur local economies, create jobs, and bring taxpayer money back to the taxpaying communities. Still, CAGW and the elected officials who support eliminating pork say the proof is in the spending, and pork is still king in the capitol.

So what about your state: Are you getting pork...or just a well-deserved slice of the taxpayer pie?
Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent: 8:56 PM ET
  43 Comments
Well, personally, I'm a vegetarian.
Posted By Anonymous Emma, Downingtown, PA : 9:07 PM ET
It is insulting and disturbing to hear of this type of waste and misplaced priorities when lawmakers and fellow Americans are debating the fate of a 300-year old city and whether it is "worth" rebuilding.

This is a country of greed and it is quickly losing compassion. Thank God for the selfless people who contributed after Hurricane Katrina and who respect the fact that generations of people have lived in New Orleans and were never told that they should not live there. Natural disasters can happen anywhere--remember that.

Whoever gives a crap about any of these stupid projects needs their conscience and morals examined. These won't do any more for economies than an 8-year old's lemonade stand! Like the great Marvin Gaye sang, MAKES ME WANNA HOLLER!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., New Orleanian in Austin TX : 9:46 PM ET
At this financial point in our "Democracy" (wink wink), any amount of Money that is left over after the Budgets are drafted and passed, should be IMMEDIATLEY placed BACK INTO the Budget Surplus, so the we may use THAT Money for the recovery and rebuilding phases, justin case of a - lets say - CAT. 5 FRICK'IN HURRICANE!

Hello?

Knock Knock?

Anyone home at the U.S. Congress?

Sincerely,

The American People
Posted By Anonymous Chris, San Diego, CA : 10:10 PM ET
At what point do Americans get anngry enough to stop this stuff. We are running a deficit that our great-grandkids will not be able to pay off. Turn off your TVs and wake up and vote these idiots out. Right them ask them why they voted for this?
Posted By Anonymous Ken, New York, New York : 10:17 PM ET
Money for local economies - is that the best pro-pork defenders can come up with? That's what state governments are for. Either we should get that $3 billion back in tax refunds or put it to a good use like, gasp, education.
Posted By Anonymous amber jones, miami FL : 10:40 PM ET
Congress is a Joke!!

Society is breaking down, morales and values gone, family values gone, respect for each other gone, rudeness is the comment of the day now. drivers dont drive, people live in fantasies today.

What will it take to wake America up?

Disasters dont, just for awhile!
War , doesnt!
Soldiers dying doesnt!
Disease doesnt!
Global Warming doesnt!
Low pay and no money doesnt!
No healthcare doesnt!

Take away TV, Internet, Sports, Nascar, Shopping Malls, Wal-mart, Dollar Stores, and Buffets, all hell would break loose!!

The time is coming when the little things will mean everything again!!

America is destroying itself, from the inside out!!

All Americans are to blame, we just it go on and on !!

God have mercy on America!!
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Zephyrhills, FL : 10:47 PM ET
Seems I remember a quote from either Will Rogers or my favorite Baltimorean, H.L Mencken - "We get the government we deserve."

The real question is not one of specific porkbarrel-projects or government drivel - the real question is,"When are we going to start caring enough to begin teaching civics to our kids, and seeing to it that the NEXT generation will be better-educated than the last?"

Until that happens, we'll see museums honoring two Chinese immigrants in my home state....
Posted By Anonymous Will (Portland, Oregon) : 11:25 PM ET
Pork,

What about the money that just gets wasted at all levels of government. Whether it is local, state or federal!! ???

As long as we are a spending and greedy society where the only thing that counts is who is getting what and how much, this will never end!!

So go ahead and spend all the money you want Mr Politicians!!

Someday there wont be any to spend!!

If you buy today what you WANT, you wont be able to buy tommorrow what you NEED!!!

I first heard that from an Amish man, they are the smart people in America!!

America Wake UP!!!
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Zephyrhills, FL : 11:35 PM ET
Don't know, don't care,...don't pay taxes...civil disobedience.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Shaw, Charlotte, NC : 11:36 PM ET
Well said Chris. I am angry enough and I am prepared to vote every incumbant out of office. I want control of my country and it's money back. What exactly is the purpose of a waterless toilet anyway? Water-saving I can understand, but waterless. I am from AZ and I don't know what "pork" if any we are receivng. I can tell you what I know my state taxes are paying for; roadways, ESL programs, second rate school systems, overwhelmed social services, border patrol, medical services etc. I would hope we have no "pork" projects here, we have enough problems to deal with down here, like where are we going to get the water to support the incredible amount of people moving to our state and driving our real estate prices through the roof. I have asked Senator McCain some of the very same questions you raised and I am waiting for an answer. Money does not grow in Mints, wait George W thinks it does or he wouldn't be spending it like he is.
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 12:27 AM ET
While there is no doubt that government waste exists, the CAGW seems to have a rather broad definition for what constitutes tax dollar abuse. Most of the grants within my state (California) included in the 2006 Pig Book were for projects including agricultural research, conservation programs, crisis intervention, and anti-gang violence initiatives. Am I supposed to be outraged that $400K was allotted to the Cold Case Unit to develop crime identification technology?
Posted By Anonymous Karen M. Spence, Mill Valley, CA : 12:29 AM ET
I heard that after this pork report a Republican reported they just want to run the "government like a business."

Well,if their idea of a business is awarding all these dollars to such well-deserving programs, and consolidating agencies for improved performance (Homeland Security(FEMA)) outsourcing departments to private industries with outrageous contracts that are supposedly underbid. (Gasp!) And then require additional dollars not to mention the interest payments for failure to pay the funds in a timely manner...

Come on people are we really this stupid? I do not want to pay $5.00 for GAS or $100 in Taxes that goes to the pocket of a Congressman's brother-in-law's trailer sales business for mobile homes stuck in the mud.

I want to pay taxes to have a government help me live and play in a clean, safe, healthy country where I can utilize my share of resources and services to better my health, career and family. Can't we get back to the basics and do it right this time?
Posted By Anonymous Sue, Austin TX : 1:12 AM ET
As I watched the protests in Paris about jobs recently, I wondered... where are our college students these days? There's no Vietnam but there is Iraq, government corruption, global warming, the aforementioned pork, Katrina, illegal immigration, port security, more people in prison than any other country, skyrocketing healthcare costs, the end of Social Security as we know it- what will make them wake up? Oh well, I guess they're too busy talking on their cellphones.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin Quail- Schaumburg, IL : 2:16 AM ET
Term limits would make a big difference as far as pork goes. As it stands, the best thing to do during the next few Congressional elections is vote out whoever the incumbent in your state or district is. Republican, Democrat- makes no difference- get rid of them. Let's get together as a nation and impose our own term limits on these pigs.
Posted By Anonymous Kevin Quail- Schaumburg, IL : 2:20 AM ET
As upset as some may be about this information, I feel that the most upsetting aspect is that THEY continue to do this year after year. It as if they sit around and do pretty much what they want, laugh, joke have another drink and chat about what other cool things they can spend my money on. It is a total lack of respect to all of the hard working tax paying americans and if I knew a way to stop this I would. My honest feels are if an individual is bold enough to follow though on one of these pork ideas they should be identified and fired. That is what happen in a business world whay should they be able to do anything they wish year after year after year...I never respond to these things, this is my first time and it may not be a very good response but it is the best I can do when I am upset like this.
I will finish with...these people are a big part of what is killing our great country and greed will be our downfall. I hope they are all very proud of these accomplishments and walk tall knowing they got approved.
Posted By Anonymous John, Foxboro, Ma. : 7:31 AM ET
This is an absolute insult to our democratic process. Between actions line this, the giving away of foreign aid, ant the war in Iraq, our great grandchildren will be paying for all of this. There is no way that a future administration can balance a budget. It is a given that the present one does not know how to do anything but spend.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Foley, AL : 7:39 AM ET
Pork? Most of us peons are struggling to survive on the festering scraps life throws our way. However, we're proud to even have those, for at least it's something. But sometimes, we can't help wondering: Where's the beef?
Posted By Anonymous Jacqui Odell, Daleville, AL : 8:10 AM ET
The traffic flow project I can see, but that comes from personal interest as the town I live is only about 45,000 people and is in the middle of a multi-million dollar project to create an overpass for a major street over several busy sets of railroad tracks that cause numerous traffic problems every day. I also benefit from the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays me not to raise crops on some farm land I own, but instead to keep native grasses and good habitat for wildlife. Both are pork to some, but I see tangible results from both (other than the money I receive). I guess that is the defining difference between pork and pie; the results. I guess I haven't seen any waterless toilets and the closest thing to a cattle stampede I've ever seen in Nevada was the rush to the slot machines in Las Vegas, which probably bring plenty of tax revenue in for that state. Of course the traffic project in my town is being funded mostly through tax bond initiatives, so maybe we aren't taking as much pork as some. Oh well. I gripe about it, as do many I know. But I admit that if I were suddenly eligible for a federal program that would give me lots of cash with no investment, work or risk of my own, I would probably sign up pretty quickly. That in itself is the big problem.
Posted By Anonymous Jabe Jacquart, Salina, Kansas : 8:13 AM ET
Whenever your senator campaigns as a person who brings jobs home to (your state), you know that they have been taking home the pork. I can at least say that I didn't vote for my state's porker.
Posted By Anonymous Lilnda, Wentzville, Missouri : 8:17 AM ET
We're so passive about this issue. It's just 'business as usual' in Congress to most folks and they feel like nothing they do will change it.

Voting will change it. Writing or phoning your elected officials will change it. Publicly shaming those who do it and condone will change it.

Keep at it until they have to listen; like, um, on Election Day?
Posted By Anonymous Abby, Gainesville, Florida : 8:46 AM ET
Obviously the examples cited in the blog are huge wastes of money. BUT - some of these pork projects or earmarks actually benefit local communities. These projects include funding for local school districts to replace lead pipes in their schools, funding for local governments for at-risk youth programs, and money for hospitals to upgrade their facilities among many other worthwhile projects.

Before everyone freaks out about pork a distinction needs to be made between good pork (helping people who need it) and bad pork (bridges to nowhere).

Just a thought.
Posted By Anonymous Jean, Washington, DC : 8:58 AM ET
Remember, it's easy to look at all this pork, get mad, and demand that our irresponsible Congress stops. But then the second our own Congress-person drops a little bacon into Home Sweet Home it's acceptable. All politics is local. The only way for our nation to lose weight is for we ourselves to trim ourselves down.
Posted By Anonymous Tim Maher, Atlanta/Athens, GA : 9:24 AM ET
Sometimes people get the government they voted for - - unfortunately the rest of us have to life with it. As long as the American public is willing to put it with this, it will keep rolling on. So make friends with your local congressman and get your share!
Posted By Anonymous Barbara, Tyler, Texas : 9:24 AM ET
It is one thing to assist in the funding of memorial sites and museums that people would actually go to, but when our nation is in the crises that we are now there is no excuse for frivilous spending to tea cup museums and the such.

People say that these projects give the tax dollars back to the American people. Well, I'm an American, and if this is where my tax dollars are going I don't want them back.
Posted By Anonymous Cathy, Oklahoma City, OK : 9:39 AM ET
I miss the days when Robert Byrd was chided for being the "King of Pork." At least he brought viable infrastructure and facilities to a state in dire need of funding. His intent was noble. It seems that the current intentions behind this spending are to funnel as much money as possible to home states in order to simply secure re-election of the incumbant or keep the same party in office. What has happened to the spirit of public service for the common good of ALL citizens? That intent must remain at the forefront of all actions of public servants. What has happened to my country? Now, it's all an election game but THE PEOPLE are getting wise to it. We, the people, have to live within budgets and spend the money we have wisely. Since they are in a position of trust, I would think they would hold themselves to a higher standard. Let's see some of those guys live on my budget and have to decide whether they can take their kid to buy shoes this month or if it will have to wait until next month.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa B, New Martinsville, WV : 9:48 AM ET
Until we can conquer the thirst for power and money in humanity, nothing will change. Unfortunatly our politicians seem to fine tune these traits the longer they are in office.
Posted By Anonymous R Scoville, Entiat Wa : 10:26 AM ET
"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people." The framers are turning in their graves right now. Federal thievery of taxpayer money used to propagate the agenda of politicians at the local level. I'd like to lump welfare into the "pork barrel" as well. Since when do we take from those who work and give to those who won't. Pork is the result of massive government with unbounded spending habits and it smacks of unconstitutionality. What we need to do is fire every corrupt politican at the ballot box and let it be known that Americans are tired of the illegal and unconstitutional workings of the government. Heck, if I managed my checkbook the way the US government manages our taxes, I'd be in debt so deep that I'd never see the light of day.
Posted By Anonymous JJ, Las Cruces, NM : 10:30 AM ET
Like I mentioned earlier, when are Americans going to join together and elect representatives that will do their job with integrity? We need to oust these grubby bureaucrats who just love to spend our money.
How about we just elect celebrities to office! I mean, if Reagan, Arnold, and "The Body" can do this job better than politicians, well by-golly I'm sure Jessica Simpson would make a great public servent!
Posted By Anonymous JP, Las Cruces, New Mexico : 10:32 AM ET
Heck, this is peanuts compared to what is being thrown down the toilet in Iraq. Let the boys on the Hill have a little fun with some light hearted spending. It's only money.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, San Jose, CA : 10:48 AM ET
Crooked politicians, negative media reporting. It seems to me that anyone who has a real influence on the american people has a hidden agenda. They know who they are.
Posted By Anonymous Keith, Tallahassee, Fl : 11:26 AM ET
This nauseates me beyond belief! Too bad I don't have a waterless toilet to throw UP in!

What happens to these idiots once they get in office?!

I live in an area where salaries are declining, jobs are disappearing, and taxes are INCREASING.

Thanks to all of you whose votes overrode MY votes in the last election. I hope you're happy with your decisions.
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Rochester, NY : 11:32 AM ET
We voters are in large part to blame for this. A big part of the problem is that one district's pork spending is another's necessary infrastructure/business and economic development spending.

Isn't it funny how this is always the other politician's fault? Has anyone ever told their own representatives to give the money back?
Posted By Anonymous liz, Montgomery, AL : 12:14 PM ET
Pork Barrel spending has been going on since our government was founded, and the likelihood of it stopping is slim to none. No, I'm not saying its right, but its reality. Each of us elects or representatives to serve our interests and fight for the things our district wants. If a district wants a million dollars for whatever pet project, we expect our representatives to fight for it. When it doesnt happen, we get mad at them, when it does, it becomes pork barrel spending (unless its our district, of course...then its necessary). Until we as voters start looking at what is truly important and stop pushing our elected representatives to fight for pet projects that serve no real good, pork barrel spending will not stop. As a voter, its very simple, if you dont like it, make that known to your representatives, and dont vote for those people who support pork barrel spending.
Posted By Anonymous Tara, Columbia, Missouri : 12:37 PM ET
Start paying attention America and vote for people who will not waste our money. It's time for a really big change in our representatives. Pay attention to who you are voting for instead of just voting the same people in. How about the line item veto and the president paying attention to what he is signing.
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Wallingford, CT : 12:39 PM ET
As a lifelong resident of North Carolina, let me say that the teapot museum is news to me. If someone thinks it's that friggin important, then it should be privately funded, like the brand-new basketball arena. Oh wait- we paid for that too!
I can think of at least a hundred other things that warrant the spending of half a million dollars. I am supremely ashamed of the leaders and representatives of my state and country.
Posted By Anonymous Anne, Charlotte NC : 1:44 PM ET
Let us look at these numbers in perspective. According to the CAGW, Congress spent 28 Billion in pork projects last year. Compared to the entire budget of 2.8 Trillion, it is a mere 1%. It is the equivalent of a family making 50000 per year spending $500 on something.
Also, according to the CAGW, there were some 9900 projects that contributed to the wasted 28 billion. Percentage wise, that averages to One-Tenth of One percent per project. (Or, to our family making 50000, thats a nickel). While the waste is great in terms of whole dollars, the more amazing thing to me is that our government spends 5,600 times the net worth of the richest man on earth in one year.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Philadelphia PA : 2:34 PM ET
The $3.4 billion in "pork" identified by CAGW is absolutely trivial compared to the $2.7 trillion Federal budget--about one-eighth of one percent of it. No amount of fat-trimming on this microscopic scale is going to do the slightest bit of good in controlling the disastrous US budgetary deficit or the even more disastrous national debt.

No, the killer portion of the budget consists of the entitlement programs: Medicare and the like. According to the New York Times, Congressionally mandated entitlements soak up 80% of that $2.7 trillion--about $2.2 trillion.

An "entitlement" is a way of giving people a lifestyle that they cannot, on their own, afford--free-market society does not value their contributions to the level necessary to support that lifestyle. The contributions of entitlement recipients to the national economy are thus less than the cost to the economy of supporting them--the cost of that support must then be borne by everyone else.

But "everyone else," to a large extent, doesn't necessarily think it fair that they have to work harder or longer or pay more taxes just to support those who refuse to take responsibility for their own lives. Politicians know this--and that's why Washington will never voluntarily stop spending money it doesn't have. The politicians are going to keep on buying their reelections with print-on-demand money, hoping that the ultimate accounting for their profligacy doesn't happen until their ultimate successor's term in office.

And that accounting will, sooner or later, occur. And I'm going to predict that it will make the so-called "Great Depression" look like a minor historical footnote.
Posted By Anonymous Henrik Moller, Apex, NC : 4:36 PM ET
Think about the two times you interface with the federal government in a given year. The first week of November, and the second week of April. Can you think of two points in the year farther part in either direction? Interesting coincidence.

To that end, and because of my strong environmental beliefs, I propose legislation entitled "The Albert Gore Paperwork Reduction Act of 2006", wherein voting day would be moved to April 15th, and you would flip your 1040 over and vote on the other side. Make them charge you for all this pork the day you vote for them, and see what would happen.
Posted By Anonymous Jay, Pittsboro, NC : 6:26 PM ET
Definition of Pork - Rebuilding a city that is below sea level, incompetently governed, and most certainly will be destroyed again by natural conditions.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Castro Valley CA : 6:54 PM ET
Becareful about critizing the government. Soon, that will classify you as a enemy combatant. And you will be sent to a forgien government for toture.. i mean questioning
Posted By Anonymous Warren San Diego, Ca : 6:59 PM ET
We used to have waterless toilets in America. They were called "outhouses". Some yachts have waterless toilets, they are called "incinerators". What are they doing, re-inventing the "2-holer"?
Posted By Anonymous Frank W, Houston, Texas : 7:06 PM ET
Local projects should be handled by local officials.Keep congress out of it.they are buying elections with our hard earned tax dollars. make them pay social security,maybe they will care to fix it. who cares what party, they seem to all be for themselves. We need the Founding Fathers back, they were smarter than any politician we ahev seen in years,both parties.
Posted By Anonymous gregg sarasota florida : 7:19 PM ET
maybe if this porking around would stop, we would have that money to educate our children properly we wouldn't be fighting against a group of people like illegal immigrants and have room for some of them in our hearts anbd country. We blame them when we should really be blaming our pathetic government who work quicker for pork than they do securing our country's borders and fixing broken policies and federal departments!
Posted By Anonymous Andrea Nassau, NY : 3:40 PM ET
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