Have you ever wanted to know how your tax money
is wasted? Well here it is!
Your tax bill has included…
On Capitol Hill, "pork" is more than just the other white meat—it's your
cash, rolled up and smoked.
$15 billion…for Boston's "Big Dig," the most expensive public
works project in American history and a construction boondoggle of great
importance—if you happen to live in eastern Massachusetts.
$6.9 billion…to design the Army's Comanche helicopter. The
project was canceled in 2004 without building a single usable chopper—generating
an additional $2 billion in termination fees.
$400 million…each year to subsidize public broadcasting, like
PBS. Sesame Street alone would be a commercial gold mine…if taxpayers
didn't underwrite it already.
$3.5 million…to refurbish Alabama's Vulcan monument. This
100-year-old Birmingham statue is a depiction of the Roman god of fire and
metalworking, not Spock.
$1.5 billion…to projects at the 2002 Winter Olympics, including
the Olympic tree program ($500,000), adopting an Olympic horse ($70,000), and
"resolving racial tensions" in honky-happy Utah ($55,000).
$835 million…to build a single amphibious assault ship the
Pentagon never asked for. The project was "requested" by Mississippi senator
Trent Lott…who happens to live within view of the shipyard hired to build it.
$9 billion…for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada,
a dumping site for radioactive waste. Unfortunately, the toxic waste dump offers
protection for only 10,000 years, when uranium has a half-life of billions.
$50 million…to The Environmental Project in Iowa, which
features a 4.5-acre indoor jungle, an IMAX-style movie theater, and outdoor
exhibits of indigenous ecosystems (a.k.a. cornfields).
$950,000…to erect a bronze memorial to Dr. Seuss in his
hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts.
$300,000…to keep America rocking. This includes $200,000 for
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland and an extra $100,000 for
the Kids Rock Free Educational Program. Sadly, there are no classes on setting
guitars on fire, trashing motel rooms, or cornholing groupies.
Passing the Buck
Time to pay up! Where your tax dollar evaporates, one misspent penny at a time.
Social Security ($476.6 billion, 21.03%)*
Defense ($456.2 billion, 20.13%)
$1 million for the Young Patriots Program, including "a video that
promotes the significance of National Patriotic Holidays."
$1 million for theater groups to perform Shakespeare in American military
$6.46 billion for Halliburton's troop support effort in Iraq; this
money includes $45 cases of soda, $85,000 "oil filters," and $100 per bag of
laundry. Meanwhile, a new private earns only $13,248 a year—but he gets an extra
$225 a month for taking fire in combat!
$9.1 billion was spent this year alone on missile defense research, a.k.a.
"Star Wars." Since 1983, more than $90 billion has been spent on a program meant
to defend us against the ever-threatening (and currently nonexistent) Soviet
$4.1 million a year to pay off Ahmad Chalabi, the traitorous Iraqi exile
accused of passing U.S. secrets to Iran. Pentagon brass spent $27 million on
Chalabi's political aspirations.
Unemployment/Welfare ($329.5 billion, 14.54%)
Medicare ($250 billion, 11.03%)
$600,000 to sail a Medicare-branded blimp around the country—that's just
part of Medicare's $30 million annual advertising budget: "Can't afford health
care? Medicare is here to help…as long as you don't have cancer!"
Health ($231.7 billion, 10.22%)
$2.9 million for 32 programs that teach kids abstinence rather than sex ed.
$5 million for the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness Center in South
Carolina. (Our calls asking whether this includes day care for illegitimate
mixed-race children went unreturned.)
Interest On The National Debt ($153.2 billion, 6.76%)
Your personal share? $25,062
Education And Social Services ($87.6 billion, 3.87%)
$20 million to bail out Pennsylvania's struggling school districts. Yes,
taxpayers nationwide are footing the bill because Pennsylvania can't solve its
own education crisis.
Transportation ($68.7 billion, 3.03%)
$1.2 billion this year alone to prop up Amtrak—on top of more than $25
billion since 1971. The horribly inefficient, heavily subsidized railroad incurs
two dollars in costs for every dollar sold in tickets.
Veterans Affairs ($59.1 billion, 2.61%)
$231 million for AmeriCorps, the domestic Peace Corps. Rather than investing
in, say, veterans affairs, the U.S. spends $27,000 per "volunteer" for what
amounts to little more than political stump speech fodder.
Administration Of Justice ($39.7 billion, 1.75%)
Natural Resources And Environment ($31.8 billion, 1.4%)
$375,000 for the restoration of the Homestake Opera House in the opera
hotbed of Lead, South Dakota.
$300,000 for Utah forestry education. "See all these trees, Senator? We call
this a ‘forest.' Senator! Don't make business in your hand!"
International Affairs ($31.7 billion, 1.4%)
General Government ($25 billion, 1.1%)
$3.6 million for team-building exercises to keep those wacky U.S. Postal
Service employees from breaking down and shooting each other. This included
singing, treasure hunts, and dressing in cat costumes. No, we're not joking.
Agriculture ($24.7 billion, 1.09%)
$17 billion for U.S. farm subsidies. Sorry, John Mellencamp, but it ain't
going to your stereotypical starving small farmer. Huge—and hugely
profitable—corporate farms, which make up only seven percent of the two million
farms in America, snort up more than half of that money.
$6.1 million for "wood utilization research." Since 1985, a total of $79
million has been spent investigating the various commercial uses for the miracle
mystery substance known as "lumber."
$3.8 million for shrimp aquaculture research. Since 1985, $61 million has
been spent studying these sea cockroaches.
General Science, Space, And Technology ($23.1 billion, 1.02%)
Community And Regional Development ($16.7 billion, .74%)
Commerce ($14.9 billion, .66%)
$1 million to pay for South Carolina "oyster recovery"—because no shellfish
should be left behind.
$2 million for the First Tee initiative in St. Augustine, Florida, which
teaches honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship through, um, "golf education."
Energy ($548 million, .02%)
$1.2 billion (from several departments) for the FreedomCAR—an initiative
started by President Bush to create cars powered by hydrogen-fuel cells, which
would supposedly one day replace autos that run on "Freedom Juice."
*Dollar bill breakdown based on the 2003 federal budget.
Worst of the Wurst
These politicians take from the many and give to the few—and earn a place in our
tax-dollar-hemorrhaging Hall of Shame.
Ted Stevens (MVP)
Career lowlights: As chair of the Senate Appropriations
Committee, amassed a pork total of $524 million in fiscal year 2004, the most of
any congressman. Since 1995, he's spent $95 million on HAARP, a program that
heats and tests the ionosphere. Once suggested N.Y.C. cops and firemen give up
their overtime pay as a wartime sacrifice.
Career lowlights: When asked why he blew $90,000 to fund fruit
fly research in France, Specter responded, "That sounds frivolous, but the fruit
flies pose a real threat to crops, and they are tested in France because you
don't want to study fruit flies in Pennsylvania, where they might get into our
Career lowlights: Snagged $225,000 to repair a swimming pool in
his hometown of Sparks, Nevada—a pool that Gibbons himself caused to shut down
in the 1950s by filling the drain with tadpoles. When asked about his earmarking
money for his own special interests, Gibbons replied, "Who cares about the
process? The process is irrelevant."
Career lowlights: Received $202,500 for the National Peanut
Festival Agricultural Arena in Dothan, Alabama, which did wonders for Alabama's
native elephant population. Later admitted he was shocked to find out that not
only was his request granted, but the government added an extra $2,500 that he
never asked for.
Robert Byrd (MVP)
State: West Virginia
Career lowlights: Became the first person in history to obtain
more than $1 billion in pork over his career. Since Byrd entered state
government 57 years ago, West Virginia has added about 37,000 miles of federally
funded hillbilly highway. Byrd said, "You might as well slap my wife as take
highway money from West Virginia."
Career lowlights: Gouged taxpayers to the tune of $494 million
worth of pork in 2004 alone, second only to Stevens. Spent $220,000 of federal
money to study an abundance of icky green algae on the beaches of West Maui. He
also burned up $2.3 million on brown tree snake control and $586,000 to
"monitor" pineapple and papaya crops.
Ernest "Fritz" Hollings
State: South Carolina
Career lowlights: Spent $1 million to study fish spawning at
the Charleston Bump, a hot spot for scaly swingers. Spent $16 million on the
aptly named Hollings Marine Laboratory, and $5 million on the Hollings Cancer
Center. Hopes to have his state renamed Hollings' South Carolina have gone
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Career lowlights: Scored $181 million in federal pork in 2004—for a city with a
population of 563,000. As mayor of D.C., Williams is seeking $300 million to
build a new baseball stadium in hopes of luring the Montreal Expos to
Washington, and is boycotting Baltimore Orioles games to protest the lack of a
team in his city.
November 18, 2010 10:48
December 01, 2004 02:27
By John DeVore
Maxim, November 2004