America's "pork barrel" culture is a vote-buying mechanism on top of an overwhelmingly wasteful federal budget
- Gerardo E. Martínez-Solanas
- Category: Perspectiva económica: Martínez-Solanas
- Hits: 450
It is extremely difficult to conceive a figure of 31,5 billion (in Spanish) or 31.5 trillion (in English) because it exceeds our ability to visualize that amount of money. It is equivalent to 31,5 followed by 11 zeros. If we reduce it to the size of the debt per inhabitant (per capita) it equals US$94,204 per person (men, women, and children) in the United States. Such is the amount of the US national debt!
However, this crushing debt does not seem to worry lawmakers who have not slowed down the unbridled budgetary waste one iota but rather have accelerated it this year 2023, adding to the 2022 huge budgetary deficit which is projected to grow to astronomical amounts if this trend is not corrected before it is too late to avoid the country's economy crashing. In fact, the budgetary waste is notably aggravated by the disastrous "pork barrel" smuggled in behind the scenes by ambitious politicians who intend to buy the vote with their irresponsible largesse.
This year’s budgetary release (a 2,714-page US$1.7 trillion monstrosity) exposes some 7,200 earmarks, an increase of 1,702.8% (!!!) from the 285 in fiscal year (FY) 2020. This pork barrel has a cost of $18.9 billion in 2023.
Earmarks continue to provide the most benefit to those with spots on prime congressional committees. Only 17% of Congress, or the 89 members of the House and Senate appropriations committees, were responsible in FY 2022 for 41.1% of the earmarks and 29.1% of the funds to be spent in 2023.
This is just a sample of the "pork barrel" (earmarks) introduced as addendums to the Federal Budget this year:
- $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers”
- $1.2 million for “support services for DACA recipients” (aka helping illegal aliens with taxpayer funds) at San Diego Community College.
- $477,000 for the Equity Institute in Rhode Island to indoctrinate teachers with “antiracism virtual labs.”
- $1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”
- $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City.
- $3.6 million for a Michelle Obama Trail in Georgia.
- $750,000 for “LGBT and Gender Non-Conforming housing” in Albany, New York.
- $2 million for the “Great Blacks in Wax” museum in Baltimore.
- $856,000 for an “LGBT Center” in New York.
- $750,000 for the “TransLatin@ Coalition” to provide “workforce development programs and supportive services for Transgender and Gender nonconforming and Intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles.”
- $2 million for “MLK Labor” (formerly the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, the central body of labor organizations in King County, Washington), an affiliate of the AFL-CIO that supported “defund the police” in Seattle and expelled police officers from union ranks.
- $956,000 for “The Equity Incubator at the Universities at Shady Grove” in Maryland.
- $791,200 for “equitable energy resilience and EV infrastructure” in Sonoma, California.
- $750,000 funds the creation of a Ukrainian Independence Park in Washington, DC
- $500,000 for horse management at the Nevada Department of Agriculture
This is only a short sample among thousands. The truth is that the earmarks can be used to persuade —bribe?— legislators who benefit from them to support massive bills that do spend ridiculous amounts of money and keep our $31.4 trillion in government debt ballooning. It also serves to buy the votes for legislators obtaining these "gifts" for their constituents.