Puerto Rico is in the Appalachians, or why the USA is broke from pork
By Mencken’s Ghost
Oct. 6, 2012
Did you know that Puerto Rico is in the Appalachians? Well, in 2011, something called the Appalachian Regional Commission distributed $55 million in Pell Grants from the U.S. Department of Education to the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, Inc.
Maybe the money will fund geography lessons for Puerto Ricans.
The $55 million is equal to the average annual income of 1,222 Americans. Or stated differently, the government would have to confiscate every penny of income from 1,222 Americans for an entire year to fund this generous giving of the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Even if all of the 1,222 were bleeding hearts who fret about the education of Puerto Ricans, it is doubtful that any of them would give a year’s income unless they were forced to do so at a point of a gun.
This pork represents only a tiny bacon bit in a slaughterhouse full of pork. The rest of the pork is listed at USASepnding.gov, where it takes thousands of pages to detail all of the grants, contracts and direct payments made by the federal government each year--or more accurately, doled out by Democrat and Republican politicians to buy votes and campaign contributions.
The two parties pretend that they are fundamentally different, but both of them are partners in the pork business and distribute more bacon than Boar’s Head, Armour, and Hormel put together.
Consider these additional examples:
Arizona State University (ASU), which is about five miles from my house and not in Appalachia, got $42 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission. That’s equal to the annual income of 933 Americans.
ASU also got $389,577 from the Department of Education for “Special Programs for Indian Children.” I don’t know if that is for children from India or for Native-American children. In any event, it’s a bargain since only eight Americans would have to work a year to subsidize Indian children at ASU.
You probably didn’t know that the Department of Education is in the child care business. It gave $272,877 to ASU from a program called “Child Care Access Means Parents in School.” It should have been called “The Annual Income of Six Parents Is Confiscated to Pay for Child Care for Other People’s Children.”
These bacon bits are but a fraction of the pork that goes to higher education--pork that is a disincentive for colleges to reduce costs and tuition. Is it possible that all of this pork influences how college faculties and students vote? Nah, since most of them are left-liberals, they vote their social conscience and not their self-interest. Hahaha!
Maybe they would have a guilty conscience if the 933 Americans whose incomes are being confiscated to fund the $42 million that went to ASU from the Appalachian Commission were trucked to the campus each morning, lined up in work details with shackles on their legs, and forced to labor on campus for a year under the watch of armed guards and German shepherds.
It’s a similar story about the pork that goes to national defense. Such spending sends shivers up the legs of conservative flag wavers, because the money goes to such military essentials as aircraft carriers, bombers, and tanks--except when it doesn’t. Consider:
The Department of Defense gave $24 billion to the Pumyang Construction Company, Limited, of South Korea. In other words, South Korea sells cars, electronics and ships to us, and instead of using the proceeds to provide for their own defense (or to at least show some gratitude by using an American construction company), they bill us $24 billion for one of their own construction companies. This is further proof that Asians have high IQ’s. (Note: $24 billion is equal to the annual income of 533,000 Americans.)
Likewise, Japan sells us Toyotas and Hondas, and we turn around and send $5.6 billion to the Obayashi Corporation to build family housing, probably for American troops stationed in Japan to protect Japan.
It’s not surprising that the top five government contractors in terms of pork received are in the defense business: 1) Lockheed Martin, 2) Boeing, 3) General Dynamics, 4) Raytheon, and 5) United Technologies. These five received a total of $82.3 billion in fiscal year 2012, or the annual income of 1.9 million Americans.
It is surprising, however, that the top five recipients of other types of pork are the following: 1) New York State Department of Health, 2) Department of Health Care Services (whatever that is), 3) Texas Health and Human Services Commission, 4) Penn. Department of Public Welfare, and 5) Ohio State Department of Jobs and Family Services. These five received a total of $97.8 billion, or the annual income of 2.1 million Americans.
Then there is the pork from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It gave $179,456 to the Grainger Company of leafy Lake Forest, Illinois, for “Rubbermaid receptacles.” (It would be interesting to know how many Grainger executives are diehard fiscal conservatives who rail against big government.)
The Department of Homeland Security is in the pork business, also. It gave $300,000 to the Regents of the University of Minnesota for food protection and defense. No doubt, the university, like all universities, is an expert at protecting and defending its pork from being cut by mean-spirited, nut-job, right-wing, tea party types.
You probably don’t know about the United States Agency for International Development, but it distributes $13.4 billion in pork. The top five contractors at its pork buffet are: 1) Chemonics International, Inc., 2) John Snow, Inc., 3) Partnership for Supply Chain Management Inc., 4) Development Alternatives, Inc, and 5) Abt Associates, Inc.
Let’s look at Chemonics more closely. It received $620 million to carry out its mission of “Promoting meaningful change around the world.” (Try measuring that.) The organization’s values listed on its website include this gem: “Do the right thing.” Apparently, doing the right thing means taking the annual income of 13,777 Americans and distributing it so that the principals of the organization can be feted, flattered and fawned over for their generosity.
I have to stop now with the examples. I’m getting so nauseous that I might have to use a Rubbermaid receptacle. Besides, there are so many examples that one person can’t grasp them all, including members of Congress and the president.
Woe to the politician who tries to stop the pork. For example, in my home state of Arizona, Jeff Flake, one of the most fiscally conservative Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, is running for the U.S. Senate. A Democratic political action committee is airing ads featuring a somber veteran who says in feigned distress that Flake wants to cut veterans benefits. Flake’s opponent used to be the U.S. surgeon general under George W. Bush and is a big-government central planner.
Another example: Ads against a Republican candidate running for a new congressional seat say that he wants to cut the Department of Education and thus deprive Arizonans of education money, as if paying taxes in the first place to fund the Department of Education doesn’t deprive Arizonans of money.
Because benefits are concentrated among organized special interests and costs are dispersed across the unorganized population, it is nearly impossible to cut the pork for one program or agency or beneficiary at a time. The only chance to cut the pork and save the Republic is across-the-board cuts, in the 20% range given the size of federal deficits and debt. But that would mean that both political parties would lose a major source of power and contributions, which means that it isn’t going to happen.
But what do I know? Heck, I didn't even know that Puerto Rico is in Appalachia.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.