Friday Rant: The 2009 Budget — This is Not Spend Management

Earlier this week, I sat down to look at the most recent congressional spending package (don't just blame Obama, blame your representatives in Congress). And man, it smells like a pig. Literally. According to an article in the Washington Post the package includes: "$1.7 million for pig odor research in Iowa; $6.6 million for termite research in New Orleans; $2.1 million for the 'Center for Grape Genetics' in New York; $1.7 million for a honeybee factory in Weslaco, Tex.; $333,000 for a school sidewalk in Franklin, Tex.; $207,000 for a tattoo removal program in Los Angeles; $143,000 for an online encyclopedia in Nevada; and $951,500 for a 'sustainable Las Vegas'." Now, I'm a big believer in sustainability, but what is a sustainable Las Vegas? Vegas is a city built on-top of a desert where no one who believes in sustainability would ever consider stepping foot (the city's dwindling water supply alone is a source of endless investment and green controversy). About the only sustainable constant in Vegas is the fact that the house will eventually win.

But I suppose there are some things in the spending bill that some might construe as actually sustainable -- or maybe even a good use of tax dollars. Like "$1 million for cricket control in Utah" or "$1,427,250 for the study of genetic improvements of switchgrass". Now that last one sounds green, I tell you. Still, one wonders if Congress will mandate these spending line items that require supplier participation go to the lowest bidder-- or the most politically connected, green, diverse, or small business ones (who just happen to loyally contribute each election cycle). Who knows. But I'll tell you one thing. Pork is pork, even if it's been genetically modified to smell like a rose -- at taxpayer expense. Perhaps there's a silver lining inside the trough, though. At least Obama is getting serious about ending no-bid contracts. But more on that after we get those crickets to quiet down in Utah. They're making such a racket those tattoo guys in LA are having trouble keeping a steady hand while getting paid to remove their past handiwork with your tax dollars.

Jason Busch

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