Reeking Economic Indicator
By Vin Suprynowicz
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Citizens Against Government Waste, the Washington-based nonprofit
pork-watchers, released their seventh annual "Pig Book" on March 20.
The pink-bound volume compiles 241 congressional spending
projects which the authors say meet one or more of their seven
criteria: requested by only one chamber of Congress; not specifically
authorized; not competitively awarded; not requested by the
president; greatly exceeds the president's budget request or the
previous year's funding; not the subject of congressional hearings,
or serves only a local or special interest.
Items cited in this year's book include $473,000 to develop
low-fat snack foods in Iowa, a $500,000 grant to two universities in
California and New York to study and improve U.S. grape farming
methods, a $4 million grant to the Gambling Impact Study Commission,
and $15 million to keep open a federal facility in Alaska (home state
of Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens) which was formerly
ordered shut down due to budget constraints.
The Alaskan facility will now study ... I'm not making this up
... the Aurora Borealis.
Americans have been killed because some jerk thought they hadn't
paid enough taxes -- remember, the raid on the church at Waco was
conducted by Treasury agents -- and they use the money to study the
CAGW President Tom Schatz stressed that those projects were only
the most "egregious" examples gleaned from a list of nearly 1,600
projects totaling $14.5 billion in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
That marks a 16 percent increase over the previous year ... in an
era when politicians of both parties (or should I say -- both
branches of the incumbent Republicrat Party) routinely run on
platforms promising lower taxes and leaner, less intrusive
The bulk of the spending projects were oiled up and slid into
appropriations bills by members of the powerful Senate and House
Appropriations Committees, often at the last minute, CAGW spokesmen
"I'm shocked ... shocked," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., his
voice dripping sarcasm, as he noted that the 10 states with the most
pork-barrel projects have key members on Congress' appropriations
(The 10 "piggiest" state are Texas, Hawaii, Florida, California,
Oregon, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, New York and Virginia.)
Along with Rep. David Minge, D-Minn., and Ed Royce, R-Calif.,
McCain said he would join a CAGW "pork patrol" to develop a hit list
of items to be presented to President Clinton for removal via his
Noting that the current president is the first president
specifically authorized by Congress to wield such an item-by-item
veto, Sen. McCain said "There's no excuse for Congress to put this
pork in, and now there's no excuse for the president not to veto it
It's particularly interesting that the authors included the $4
million grant to the Gambling Impact Study Commission -- an
unmistakable attempt to put the camel's nose under the tent when it
comes to federal regulation and taxation of gaming -- a matter in
which an amazing run of 104 consecutive previous congresses managed
to forget they were even authorized to meddle.
In her great novel "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand so well understood
the socialist/collectivist mind that she predicted a day when --
Colorado having become the most prosperous state -- the federal
government would enact a specific "Colorado Tax," designed to force
the citizens and industrialists of Colorado to share some of their
wealth (which of course must have been gained by some mere fluke of
luck; energy and diligence never having anything to do with such
matters) with the residents of other states less fortunate.
The result, of course, was to kill the last Golden Goose.
What state in America today, do you suppose, is the least
collectivist, the most laissez-faire, and (oh, these darned
coincidences) the most prosperous and fastest-growing?
Would that be Nevada?
And in what lone state do we find the greatest concentration of
legal gambling (the industry that is finally, single-handedly,
raising the Indian nations from poverty) ... not to mention legal
bordellos, and all kinds of other enterprises which the cold, clammy
hand of Washington just can't wait to smother and shut down?
Would that be Nevada, as well?
Indeed, if Mr. Clinton is the "New Democrat" under which label he
was sold to us, dedicated to pounding the final nails into the coffin
of the "era of big government," I assume the White House must be
stocking up on red pens to start crossing out this kind of nonsense,
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las
Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at
http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the
United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box
4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.