Stossel's "Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior"

Young used to complain when the Democrats wasted your money. But now that his party is in power, he's pretty good at spending it too.

"Don Young has turned into a tax-and-spend Republican. He wants you and me to pay for his bridges to nowhere," said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense. His group even gave Young its Golden Fleece Award for wasteful spending.

Young says the bridge is worth it because it would create jobs here. But that's just politicians' folly. Political spending doesn't create jobs. It just robs Peter to pay Paul -- takes jobs that would have been created by taxpayers if their money hadn't been taken from them -- and moves that money to where the politically connected live. In any case, a study paid for by Alaska found that once the construction jobs are gone, the bridge would create only 40 permanent jobs.

"It would be cheaper just to write each person a check for $100,000 a year than to build this bridge to nowhere," Ashdown said.

Young wouldn't talk to me about this. Maybe he's too busy bringing home even more money for Alaskans. His state is one of the least populated in America, but he has helped get it more pork dollars than 49 other states, including pork like the Ketchikan bridge that even some of the locals don't want.

No. 5 -- NASTY BEHAVIOR -- Welfare for Farmers

President Bush gave away $83 billion of your money to farmers when he signed the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, and Congress applauded him for it. Americans like the idea of supporting family farms, but you'd be surprised to learn where that money goes.

Hundreds of those farmers who benefited from our generosity live in New York City. Some of those farmers who are collecting farm subsidies are pretty well-off. Mike Sonnenfeldt, for example, lives in a building where Steven Spielberg and Steve Martin have apartments.

Sonnenfeldt gets a cotton subsidy from the government. "I bought a piece of property, that got traded for a piece of property ... And I'm not sure exactly even why I get it," he said.

Most of the money goes to real farms big agribusiness, actually. But politicians talk about family farms.

Some subsidies do go to family farms, like one run by Fred and Larry Starrh. But does that entitle them to $3.5 million of your money? That's what they've received over seven years.

I called them welfare queens -- and they objected. "Change it to king," Larry Starrh joked, "Welfare kings. Because 'queens' is bad in California, believe me."

The Starrhs grow mostly cotton on their 12,000-acre spread in California. It's hard to think of them as needy with all that land, but costs have increased faster than prices. Subsidies, they say, are just a small part of their income, but they and their 100 employees depend on them. Without them, they say, they can't make a profit.

Now most businesses that can't make a profit go out of business. Woolworth closed. So did TWA. So do 20,000 restaurants every year. It's that freedom to fail that's helped make America as prosperous as she is, because it frees people to do more productive things.

But subsidized farms get different treatment. When Fred and Larry can't make a profit, taxpayers give them a handout.

"I don't look at it as a handout whatsoever. I absolutely refuse to accept that," Fred Starrh said.

But it is. It's welfare.

Fred Starrh said he looks at it as "a way to maintain a viable agriculture in this country."

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