Today is the NYC Tea Party and a few of my republican friends are going. The tag line for it is that we have to curb wasteful spending. I'm cool with that, but, as I wrote on my Twitter last night, I wanted to know what spending is bad (I asked for line numbers). As of this writing I had not gotten a response. The reason why there was so much opposition to the clean energy bill that was passed last week is the 600 page porkbarrell spending amendment. No one I personally know read the bill. That's fine, but don't go on attacking something with which you haven't familiarized yourself.
The reason for porkbarrell spending is (wait for it) to get re-elected. Legislators know that if they do not help their constituents, they won't be re-elected (shocking, huh).
The Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2008 included multimillion dollar spending (I forget the real number, but it was in the $100 million range) for the Army Corps of Engineers to drudge the Jones Inlet in New York. Who sponsored this legislation? Peter King (R-NY). The Jones Inlet is the collection of towns across the channel from Jones Beach, NY which consists of Lido Beach and Point Lookout. The total year-round residents total up to about 3000 (the summertime is double that) -the figures were estimated from the 2000 census. These two towns are beach communities.
Why do I give this example? Because I live in this area in the summer. In 2006, after 10 days of straight rain and a high tide, my basement was flooded (as well as just about everyone else's in the area). If it wasn't for the high tide and the ever growing coastal erosion, the septic systems would have brought the water down to the beach. It does not take a structural engineer to know that this flooding could have increased the possibility of mold growing as well as hurt the structural integrity of the houses. How was this solved? We got more sand on the beach.
If someone from, say Idaho, read the provision in the 2008 Budget and saw that millions of tax dollars are going to small beach communities, they would likely get rather angry.
Legislators know that 'bringing home the pork' will remind their constituents that the person that legislator got their friend employed at the new post office; their brother got his Social Security check; they protected the structural integrity of his house.
Is there wasteful spending? Yes. But not all spending is bad. Some actually helps the locals of that district. Unless you are from that area and understand the way of life there, you cannot be so critical of porkbarrell spending.
I will leave you with a quote from my NYC Politics professor from last night:
"Health Care reform will cost $1 Trillion over 10 years, but, in 6 months, we have given $1 Trillion to the banks."