Thursday, December 20, 2007
Is 600,000 dollars a lot of money?
--Drew Griffin


I hope you will watch my report tonight. It's another example of how politicians waste our money.

In this case the politician is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the waste is the 600-thousand dollars she handed over to further fund one of her political pals' dreams, something called the International Museum of Women which says its purpose is to "amplify the voices of women worldwide through history, the arts and cultural programs that educate, create dialogue, build community, and inspire action."

For some of you, the name alone is enough to make you roll your eyes. But for the rest of you who think this is a worthy enterprise, let me remind you of a few things.

Not one dime of the 600-thousand dollar earmark to the IMOW will take a homeless San Franciscan off the streets, not a dime will immunize an uninsured child, not one dime will help a working single mom pay for daycare.

When we asked Speaker Pelosi why she felt it important to spend your money on the IMOW her response was that this really isn't a lot of money.

Since she didn't earn it, I guess it's not. But to the American worker who had the money withheld from his or her paycheck, I think 600-thousand is actually a huge amount of money.

I think you will see the absurdity behind this kind of government spending. Watch and let me know what you think.
Posted By CNN: 12:09 PM ET
  17 Comments
Drew,
If Pelosi thinks that $600,000.00 isn't alot of money then maybe she ought to forgo her checks that we pay her until it adds up to that and then see what she thinks! I bet she'd change her tune then!!

It is a shame what is being done with our hard earned tax money!! Giving it to junk like this instead of using it to actually better someone's life is ridiculous in my book! We need to put a stop to all of this frivolous spending! It is costing us WAY too much and we are getting nothing out of it!

Looking forward to your report tonight!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 12:34 PM ET
i think she must know about the otjher people necesities and maybe she can fell something about this people poor that would use this money better.
Posted By Blogger jorge : 12:48 PM ET
Drew - while I admire your reporting, you weaken your argument with this: "Not one dime of the 600-thousand dollar earmark to the IMOW will take a homeless San Franciscan off the streets, not a dime will immunize an uninsured child, not one dime will help a working single mom pay for daycare."

This is similar to the argument some people made after the Hurricanes when other people expressed concern about the homeless animals - 'hey, there are humans still in dire need and you're worrying about animals?'

The simple fact is that if the 600K were not spent in this way, not a single more child would be immunized, or any more moms suddenly receive stipends to help them pay for daycare. That money would simply vanish without a trace into our burgeoning national debt.

I remember people in the sixties and seventies saying we should stop 'wasting' money on the space program and use that money to 'end poverty'. Does anyone honestly believe that if the space program were cancelled, there would have been ANY progress made against poverty as a result?

You can argue about national priorities all you want, but the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the budget continues to be the enormous debt we are running up to finance our feckless adventure in Iraq. Stack 600K against that figure and you wouldn't even be able to see it.

I'd love to see you take on the challenge of figuring out where all THAT money went, by the way. Another Emmy for sure!
Posted By Blogger Arachnae : 12:51 PM ET
Hi Drew,
600,000 is a lot of money whether it's yours or not! To even say such a thing goes to show how disconnected Congress is from American life.
I've no words! Perhaps Santa will bring Ms. Pelosi and all the others a new pair of eyeglasses...Minus the rose color and in a prescription that corrects far sightedness..One can hope.

Lorie Ann
Buellton, Calif.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 1:08 PM ET
Since she doesn't think 600K is a lot of money, maybe I can get her to send 600K my way. I could quit my job to stay home and take care of my ailing grandmother for the next 9-10 years.
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 1:10 PM ET
Drew - I am sick and tired of people in Washington (and their families) not knowing the value of a dollar. "Not a lot of money"? Speaker Pelosi obviously has no idea how many people in this country live in poverty or are working poor. $600,000 IS a lot of money. So is the $130,000 Rep. Regula earmarked for the First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio. If his daughter wants that money for a library, she and her society friends can donate it out of their own Chanel purses.

We've been saying this for years, but our politicians need to get their priorities straight. The welfare of the American people should come first. The change we were promised at the last election hasn't happened. What happened to those promises? Unfortunately,we're back to business as usual.

Congratulations on your Emmy, Drew! Keep up the good work!

Barbara - Las Vegas, NV
Posted By Blogger Barbara : 1:27 PM ET
Ah, and here I was, just about to rail on you, Mr. Griffin, about how insensitive were the first two paragraphs of this blog...well, since I'm a woman. But then you actually made a good point and I have to agree.

$600,000 is a lot of money. $50,000, and $1,000, and even $50is a lot of money for those who need it. I'm sure that for a homeless person, to have $50 allowance from the government weekly would be a lot of money, since now it is none.

I always firmly believed that members of congress should have equal annual salaries of an average middle class worker: certainly not more than $100,000/year. Also, to lock em up and not let them out until they make crucial changes in our country. :)
Posted By Anonymous Olya/20/NYC : 1:44 PM ET
Our speaker has never been broke, can't comprehend what's wrong with blowing our money on something wasteful. We need a president who will put an end to ALL foolish spending, get us back in the black. Change streams down from the top.
Posted By Anonymous BevMaxima1941 : 2:34 PM ET
It doesn't matter which party you represent; if you're elected to a Washington office, you can be assured of job security because Americans just don't get out to vote, so these career politicians stay in.
Posted By Anonymous Anne - Detroit, MI : 2:53 PM ET
Drew,
Thanks for bringing up the International Museum of Women. I found them on the web in a matter of seconds, since they are an online interactive global site.

May I recommend you check out IMOW's "Imaging Ourselves, a Global Generation of Women". The site has received 43,144,013 hits so far, with 1,799,460 total stories viewed, and 223 countries represented by authors and members involved with "Imaging Ourselves".

I just read one of the stories "Cold Wind on My Face" by Mary Kimani of Kenya. Her story and poetry were quite intriguing. I intend to go back and read more of the stories posted on their site.

I realize the concept of a museum without any walls might not appeal to some, and a $600,000 earmark does seem like a lot of money, but honestly, when was the last time the federal government ever took a homeless person off the streets, or helped a single mom pay for daycare? In various communities, there are free clinics that will immunize an uninsured child, but I believe those are state sponsored, not federally sponsored clinics.

IMOW might not be the best project needing funds, but it doesn't appear to be the worst either.
Posted By Blogger Jan from Wood Dale, IL : 3:01 PM ET
What bothers me most about this irresponsible spending is something you've already mentioned in your article. How can we justify wasting money on things like this when their are homeless people in America, people without health insurance, people without enough food to eat, and this list could go on for some time.

When Nancy Pelosi became the Speaker of the House promising reform, I really thought we might start getting somewhere. But Nancy Pelosi is like all the other Democrats and Republicans in Washington, making promises before elections and doing what they want after the elections.

But this is our fault as voters too. We should hold politicians to their promises and if their promises are broken, we should vote them out in the next election. After a few election cycles, the politicians will see the American voters mean business and they would clean up their acts and keep their pre-election promises knowing that if they didn't, they would be out in the next election.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:03 PM ET
It's always easy to spend "other people's money" [in this case, yours and mine] on pet projects that don't really further solutions to real problems or social ills. I'm not sure these kinds of pet projects further the value of humanity - as a career woman and a mother, I don't need a museum in a city I may never visit to validate my efforts or 'amplify my voice' in any way.

I don't know about these Congress members. Their priorities need serious re-alignment.
Posted By Blogger IMGINGER : 3:23 PM ET
Drew/AC360:
Whoa! I just looked at the IMOW website. The museum was established in 1985 and has been supporting women throughout the world. Again, what is wrong with this expenditure?

I am the first person to cry about money going to frivolous funding, but this organization seems descent. Have you read their goals and principles?

I will be watching tonight to see what the whole story is about.
Posted By Blogger Sharon from Indy : 3:26 PM ET
Mr. Griffin,
Sounds like a great story. Glad someone is out there keeping an eye on things like this. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

-Jeremy
Harrisburg, PA
Posted By Blogger drpermis : 3:46 PM ET
How ironic that Madame Speaker is wasting the very tax dollars she chided the Republicans for wanting to spend to help our soldiers and their families survive and engaging in the very same practices she and her Democratic colleagues berated the Republican party for when they took office? I guess what comes around really does go around. It's just a shame that the first female speaker of the House has become such a joke for the history books and such a disgrace to the honest, hard-working women who thought she might represent our gender with dignity and honor, not mudslinging and good ol' boy politics. We do have another shot at it when her term is up, though.
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, Berwick, LA : 4:40 PM ET
600,000 is a lot of money but I don't see this as pork; as several of the other commenter's have pointed out this museum is very impressive and supportive of women everywhere. I doubt that if this wasn't funded that a single homeless person, or mother needed immunizations with their children would see the dollars.

Sponsoring the arts and the accomplishments of a group of people really are as important as the other budget items. What a dreary world we would live in if there was no art, literature, or music in this world.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 10:30 PM ET
I'm really disappointed in this report. It is insulting that a museum recognizing women's contributions to the world is treated as such a trivial expenditure. And on top of that, to use single working mothers to support the argument! It is infuriating. Can't Drew see the connection between the undervaluing of women and the fact that single working mothers get little public support or that women and children make up a significant amount of the homeless population? It's not a coincidence. Nor is it a coincidence that it took until 2006 to get a woman speaker of the House.

Maybe Drew should actually look at the museum's exhibition and the voices of women who have been empowered by it. How about the article by Andrea Huber, a single mother who pulled herself out of depression because of her participation in the exhibition. Or one of the thousands of other stories contributed by remarkable women around the world (http://imaginingourselves.imow.org/pb/Story.aspx?id=1539&lang=1&g=0).

For far too long women have been ridiculed when they display their accomplishments. I encourage everyone, women and men, to judge for yourself the value of the International Museum of Women (http://www.imow.org/) and question the words of someone who does not value women or their contributions.
Posted By Blogger RenĂ©e Gasch : 1:43 PM ET
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