In a sad commentary on the state of America’s priorities, the $1.5+ trillion spending legislation passed by Congress last week barely made headlines. Little attention was paid to the 2,700-page spending bill or the fact that it was released at 2:30 a.m. on the day of the vote, meaning most members of Congress voted on it blindly without even having skimmed the legislation.
In a less dysfunctional country, this would be an outrage. Yet there’s even more scandal lurking beneath the surface-level incompetence of our elected officials.
The latest budget bill features an astounding 4,000 “earmarks,” pet spending items slipped into the fine print that fund projects and handouts to special interests in members’ home districts. The money funneled to earmarks totals a whopping $10 billion. (To put that number in context, it’s roughly one-fifth what the federal government spent on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment development.)
The full list of earmarks is 367 pages long. It’s far too long for most journalists—let alone an average American who doesn’t follow these things for a living—to actually go through in detail. However, a look at a few highlights gives you an idea about the kinds of things our money is spent on through this corrupt process.
Here are 10 of the most absurd earmarks in the latest spending legislation.
- $995,000 for a project on “soil health” at New Mexico State University, requested by Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico.
- $1.5 million for “tree restoration” in Ohio, requested by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
- $1 million for the “Multicultural Innovation Center” at the Rhode Island Black Business Association, requested by Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
- $60 million to “renovate” the research facilities at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, requested by Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.
- $160,000 to study the “sustainability” of astronaut food at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, requested by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
- $109,000 for facility improvements to a local arts center, requested by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
- $200,000 to provide tech support for women and minority-owned businesses via the Vermont Center for Women & Enterprise, requested by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
- $2 million for a pilot program to try an electric-vehicle-based ferry system in Alaska, requested by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
- $600,000 for the YMCA of Southern Arizona, requested by Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona.
- $110,000 for a food truck and refrigerated van for the Spanish American Center in Massachusetts, requested by Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.
As you can see, these are pet projects and crony handouts for special interests, not essential items that require federal funding. Out of all 4,000+ earmarks, few seem like things that need to be funded by taxpayers at all—let alone at the federal level.
Can anyone explain why a Virginia taxpayer like me should have to pay for Alaska’s electric ferry experiment? Or why a Californian should have to pay for Spanish food in Massachusetts or tree restoration in Ohio?
I’d hold my breath waiting for a good answer, but then I’d probably pass out. Basically nobody would support funding these things if they were put to a vote on their own, or even as a part of smaller legislation that could be properly scrutinized. That’s why they aren’t, and why earmarks are so inherently corrupt.
The famed economist Frédéric Bastiat once deemed the government “the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” And though you couldn’t tell from the way Congress behaves, there is no blank check from which the federal government can draw.
When our elected officials funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to their corrupt handouts, that money must, directly or indirectly, come out of our pockets. Americans shouldn’t stand for a political class that wants to live at our expense—or more precisely, since the federal government is more than $30 trillion in debt, living at the expense of future generations.
Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.
Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
To those who have the means, we ask that you please donate. We have options available now, but there is no telling when those options will cancel us. We just launched a new GiveSendGo page. We also have our GivingFuel page. There have been many who have been canceled by PayPal, but for now it’s still an option. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!