May 24, 2006

Pork Dependence

Carroll Andrew Morse

From a Joseph Fitzgerald article in the Woonsocket Call

U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee Monday said the community’s hard work to restore the vintage Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre should not suffer any loss of momentum by the need to install an expensive new fire suppression system as mandated by the state.

While acknowledging the need to comply with state mandates resulting from increased fire safety code regulations, Chafee is hoping the cost for the Stadium Theatre to meet those requirements will be addressed with the help of a $250,000 appropriations request he submitted last month to help pay for the new system.

Senator Chafee has promised to put funding for the Stadium Theatre on a fast-track…
Chafee submitted the funding request to Sen. Christopher Bond, chairman of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee. Funding would come from HUD’s Economic Development Initiative grant program…

"I’ve put a high priority on this request," said Chafee, who was appointed by former governor Lincoln Almond in November 1999 to fill the unexpired Senate term of his late father, Sen. John H. Chafee. "So many people and volunteers worked hard to make this restoration project a reality."
Yes, it is good that the Stadium Theatre will receive the resources it needs to meet the fire code. But wouldn’t it be good if facilities without the right political connections could have the resources to bring their buildings up to code too?

When people are forced to send a large portion of their income to the Federal government, some of it does make it back to them in forms like a $250,000 grant to Woonsocket or a $200,000 grant to the Westerly animal shelter. But a lot more of it is lost to items like a $750,000,000 grant to move a perfectly functional railroad to where casino owners want it, or a $500,000,000 grant to pay for corporate losses already covered by insurance, or a $3,000,000,000 grant to pay for digital-to-analog TV converters.

As long as spending is controlled by a remote Federal government, the allocation of resources will be determined too much by the needs and whims of the remote politicians who control the money, and not enough by the needs of the citizens and communities who have sent their money away. The only way to prevent this is to let local communities keep control of more of their resources by reducing the Federal tax burden.

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You have raised many good points about the illogic of pork during recent months.

As a modest contributor to that debate, here is an earlier posting where I attempted to clarify that the true cost of the pork benefit is always much higher than anyone realizes and getting pork is not necessarily economically advantageous to the entity once the fully loaded costs from across the USA are estimated -

Senator Chafee: Is This How You Define Fiscal Conservatism?


Posted by: Donald B. Hawthorne at May 26, 2006 1:41 AM