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Commentaries and editorials

Oink! Oink!

by Rob Wherry, George Magazine - February, 1999

D.C. is famous for wasting tax dollars on pork --
cushy government projects that keep constituents and big donors happy.
Last year money drained out of the federal coffers and into some particularly dubious piggy banks.

A Bug's Life
Alaska has been wary of pesky insects since beetles destroyed 30 million trees there last year. When grasshoppers infested the state's Delta Junction, Alaskans won $750,000 to stamp out the problem.

Disaster Dollars
Twenty billion dollars was earmarked for such emergency spendig programs as helping flood-damaged communities. But Congress has a very interesting definition of disaster: Alaska was allotted $28 million for railroad upgrades.

Everyone in America know that houses, furniture, and even paper are made of wood. But Congress needs more proof. It parceled out $5.1 million for wood-utilization research (yes, research on what to do with wood) in eight states.

Full of It
Politicians may be the masters of shoveling it, but Congress would rather pay someone else to get rid of the stuff. A $1.1 million jackpot went to manure and animal-waste management in Mississippi.

On the Dole
Although Bob Dole has left the Senate, he still wields considrable power in Washington, D.C. Witness the $6 million windfall for the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at the University of Kansas.

Newt's Loot
Before announcing his resignation, Newt Gingrich snagged $465 million for seven C-130 cargo planes to be built in his state. This makes 1998 the twenty-second consecutive year that Congress has budgeted for planes that the Pentagon doesn't want.

Wake-Up Call
Congress doesn't want the nation's soldiers falling asleep at the switch, so it came up with a sticky solution. Lawmakers awarded $250,000 to a firm in Illinois to research a caffeinated chewing gum.

Fishy Business
The Northwest seafood industry landed a $20 million catch from Congress for steelhead and salmon recovery in Washington state. Additional pieces of bait included $3.3 million for shrimp aquaculture and $400,000 for shellfish research.

That's a Lotta Cabbage
Lawmakers must really love their lettuce. They gave one California scientist $250,000 to study the genetic makeup of the plant. Other agricultural bonuses: $1 million to improve peanut quality and $200,000 to study tomato-wilt virus.

Related Links:
Gorton's local salmon recovery efforts in the Interior Bill - September 20, 1999

Rob Wherry
Oink! Oink!
George Magazine - February, 1999

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