Here's a sample of how money that could have been used for ammunition and armor has been spent. If you're an American, some of this is your money.
Research on grapes and wine. Americans spent $27,800,000,000 on wine in 2006. It's hard to understand why tax dollars have to be spent on research. "Big Wine" influence in Washington???
- As the son of an Irishman, and resident of a largely German region of Minnesota, I am personally appalled that a paltry $460,752 was spent on hops research. Wine may be a popular beverage, but beer is a grand drink.
- Government waste is one thing: but frittering away ten times as much on wine, as on beer?! That's an insult!
Research into how wood can be used: including "refinement of processing technology for laminated veneer lumber for furniture, flooring, and other specialty industries."
- Eventually, they may develop plywood.
The First Tee, intended "To impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf."
- I think golf courses represent some of the finest landscape design in America, and that golfing without a cart is a great form of exercise. But: 'better character through golf?' Can't golf clubs pass the hat for this one?
Research on the olive fruit fly: including $211,509 for research in Paris, France
- Remember those gags about congressmen going to France to study the Paris fish hatcheries?
The Rocky Flats Cold War Museum. Intended to show how Rocky Flats figured into manufacturing nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Now, the place has environmental contamination connected with nuclear weapons.
- Okay, this one might be legit. If nuclear weapons production gave Rocky Flats a glow-in-the-dark landfill, maybe this museum is a reasonable payoff.
The City of Chicago GreenStreets Tree Planting Program sounds like a nice idea. It "focuses on improving the quality of urban life through tree planting and care, recycling and open space revitalization. This fifteen year old initiative serves as a successful model of how an investment in urban natural resources conservation can restore deteriorated neighborhoods and enhance public open space."
- Translation: Change mean streets to green streets by planting trees. Maybe a little shade will help cool tempers in the summer.
- I've no problem with the project, but why isn't Chicago paying for it?
I picked these examples from the Citizens Against Government Waste "2008 CONGRESSIONAL PIG BOOK® SUMMARY" for their weirdness and gag value.
Some of the projects may even fall under the heading of national defense. "The olive fruit fly has infested thousands of California olive groves and is the single largest threat to the U.S. olive and olive oil industries," California Representative Mike Thompson, explained. (Maybe people protesting the fruit fly research should chant "No Labs for Oil!")
Even that golf program has a national defense connection. The First Tee is "for children on U.S. military bases." "It's a character building program, that seems to be working well for low income kids and that's why we do it throughout the United States of America. I just feel that children living on military installations ought to have this program as well," South Carolina's Representative Jim Clyburn explained.
Just the same: if these are worthy programs, let's fund them openly: not through earmarks on another bill. And, please: get a grip, Congress! There's a war on, and even America can't afford to blow money of Figge Foundations and wine research.
More at Citizens Against Government Waste and " 'Pig Book' names congressional porkers" CNN (April 2, 2008).