Bureaucrat Beat: The 2008 Pig Book, Pudgy Population and a Letter

How do they spend our money in Washington? It’s a dark, curvaceous mystery to most. One thing we do know, they treat a million dollars like it’s a nickel. The group, Citizens Against Government Waste recently published their 2008 Pig Book. The summary reveals dozens of pork barrel expenditures. Here are a few:

$7.5 million for grape and wine research. Where do we sign up?

$4.8 million for “wood utilization research. Laminated veneer? Oh, yea, we need to know a lot more about that.

$3.1 million for “shrimp aquaculture research.” Clearly a mandate for national well-being. That’s not the only fishy funding faux pas. $56.3 million goes to Mississippi. This includes research to ” meet America’s demand for warm water marine seafood.”

The Defense Budget includes $173. 2 million for Hawaii which pays for health care, space surveillance, ocean science research, the Maui High Performance Computing Center, and $2 million of that goes for “Brown Tree Snakes.” Okee-dokee!

$121 million goes to Pennsylvania, much of which is spent on the National Drug Intelligence Center, deemed “duplicative by the Department of Justice”, i.e. totally unnecessary.

$4.8 million goes to New York for what’s called the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway national Recreation Area, described as a “wealth of history, nature and recreation.”

$92 million to Louisiana for 25 projects under the Energy and Water Budget, one of which supports the “removal of aquatic growth.”

You get the picture. We’ll have more from the Pig Book later. The information reveals not so much accountable, necessary government operations as ways for legislators to amass a power base with our money.

Meanwhile, back in California, where Governor Schwarzenegger demanded minimum pay for many state workers until the Legislature signs a budget. Trouble is, according to the State Controller, the government’s computers are so antiquated that it would take 6 months to tally up the new payroll. Seems California and many other governments do not maintain and upgrade computer systems to make them effective. Nice job.

A review of news headlines caused us to trip and cough over this one – “All U.S. adults could be overweight in 40 years”. Wow. That’s heavy, literally. The article reports that the headline is no stretch since right now two-thirds of the population already tips the scales at too, too much weight.

Now, we do our share of over-eating here in the newsroom. So we’re not necessarily pointing fingers, but we found another article that makes all of that pudginess downright unhealthy! The scientific evidence definitely ties obesity with occurrences of certain types of cancer. That’s serious stuff.

On to the irony section of Bureaucrat Beat. Wait a minute, we never confine irony to a section, but anyway, Russ Monroe found the following worth repeating. He writes:

On Thursday, August 7th, I went to our Post Office Box in Lone Pine. In side was a present from the Federal Court in Fresno, signed by a Federal Judge. The good news, to my surprise, was that the letter was postmarked August 5th. Wow, only two days from Fresno to Lone Pine! I am still trying to figure out how it is – that the mail you don’t want gets to you in no time, but the mail you are waiting for or need, takes forever. Regardless, I opened the envelope. Yes, a jury summons. Specifically a jury summons signed by the judge on July 8th demanding the appearance of my, by then 86 year old mother, in Fresno, under threat of fine or imprisonment, on the 14th of August. This is documented proof of the accumulated failures of our governing process – that a judge has the power to criminalize anyone any time by demanding the appearance of an individual hundreds of miles from that person’s home, that a court clerk can sit on a judge’s order for a month before bothering to put it in the mail. That is inhumane and should be a crime.

That these demands can be made of an 86 year old in an area with almost no public transportation makes no sense at all. The crowning blow to the concept of a civilized society though, is the fact that this is the third time that my mother has been summoned…. in the two and a half years since her death! Yes, when the first summons arrived I both called the court and sent her death certificate. I can’t really say from here whether this is the result of judicial blind arrogance, bureaucratic incompetence or just subhuman disregard for “we the people”; but it should bring home to all of us the fact that we must have change, and for our own safety and that of our children and their children it needs to happen NOW! Please remember this letter when you go to the polls in November.

Russ Monroe

This is more like the “if it’s broke, we better fix it” department.

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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