The Real Price of Pork Barrel Spending

People are calling it the "Bridge to Nowhere," because it links to an island where there is an airport but not much else. The island has no roads and is home mostly to trees.

Is a $200 million bridge to an isolated island really a necessity that deserves our tax dollars?

Alaska's hardly alone in wanting to spend your money on frivolous pork. Alabama got $200,000 for a peanut festival.

Rep. Terry Everett, R-Ala., brought that money home to his constituents and they were happy to take it. "I think it's a waste of money," one man said. "But if they're going to waste money, I guess it's better to waste it here than anywhere else," he added.

Louisiana has wasted plenty of money, too. It spent $300,000 to house Breaux's papers in a college.

I asked him about the money he squandered on pork and handouts, like subsidies that went to the sugar industry and shipbuilders in his state.

He was irritated by my question. "I object to you using words like 'squandering pork.' These projects all have to meet a benefit/cost ratio study. What is pork in one part of the country is an essential project in another part," he said.

Please. Spending money on critical infrastructure -- like levees that could have withstood storm surges in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and protected New Orleans -- is an essential project. Spending money on halls of fame, bridges to nowhere and industry subsidies is pork. The founders argued that we should have limited government. They were on to something. If the government didn't try to do so many things, it wouldn't do so many things badly. Our money should be spent to keep us safe.

Give Me a Break.

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