pigbook2010Most of us have no clue what the federal government does with our money. The group, Citizens Against Government Waste try to keep track. They issue annual Pig Books, as they call them. They list pork barrel expenses approved by Congress and the Senate. We will name some of them in this and other Bureaucrat Beats. It seems that with a national debt of more than $13 trillion, our leaders might stop the spending. The debt goes up by a reported $4 billion per day.

The 2010 Congressional Pig Book from Citizens Against Government Waste says that some reforms did take place over earmark expenditures – projects tacked onto bills that go through unnoticed. Even so, the spending goes on and on. According to the Pig Book, the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act contained “35 anonymous projects worth $6 billion.”

The Citizens group says that in their 20-year expose of pork-barrel spending includes nearly $4.5 million for “wood utilization research, $300,000 for Carnegie Hall and $200,000 for the Washington national Opera. The legislators in the areas of gifting would probably say, hey, we needed to give them this money. Again, against the backdrop of the national debt, we question it.

Examples: Since 1985, $74.5 million appropriated for shrimp aquaculture research. $2.5 million this year for potato research. $693,000 for beef improvement research, $2.5 million for the Dairy Forage Research Center, $2.7 million for polymer research. $349,000 for swine waste management research. More later.

Meanwhile, back in California, news reports say that cities across the state have ignored laws that required the building of affordable homes. Redevelopment agencies have spent hundreds of millions and not built a single unit. We must congratulate Mammoth Lakes Housing for actually building affordable housing units, a number of them.

On to the weather. Though we know it’s tough to predict, scientists have begun to talk openly about La Nina and the potential for a dry year. Take note.

On to a fanciful topic. Good news for “Lord of the Rings” fans. News reports say that after many years of delays, the next chapter of “Lord of the Rings” films may actually happen. Yes, it’s called “The Hobbit.” Production, insiders say, could start in mid-January with air dates in 2012. At last, Middle Earth.

We in the Bureaucrat Beat Newsroom just read New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s latest. He sees a third


New York Times columnist/ author, Thomas Friedman

political party rising. He calls it the “radical center”. The highly intelligent, observant Friedman, author of “The World is Flat, says, “We have to rip open this two-party duopoly and have it challenged by a serious third party that will talk about education reform, without worrying about offending unions; financial reform, without worrying about losing donations from Wall Street; corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left; energy and climate reform, without worrying about offending the far right and coal-state Democrats; and proper health care reform, without worrying about offending insurers and drug companies.” Okay. You’ve got us.

Friedman concludes his column with this:

“We need a third party on the stage of the next presidential debate to look Americans in the eye and say: ‘These two parties are lying to you. They can’t tell you the truth because they are each trapped in decades of special interests. I am not going to tell you what you want to hear. I am going to tell you what you need to hear if we want to be the world’s leaders….”

We like it. We feel weary with the news of government rip offs, off Bell CA leaders who cut police pay while they built up their own. We’re tired of pork barrel spending just because they can. We’re up to here with big money buying votes. Like the song says, “It’s a new day, baby.”

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.

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