Pork Barrel Politics

We understand that the war was expensive, but do you know where else your tax dollars are going from this year's budget?

You're paying $202,000 to the National Cherry Festival in Michigan, and $5 million to fund McGruff the Crime Dog — paying for things like "crack down on drugs" coloring books.

And almost $1 million of your tax dollars are being spent to restore a luxury hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., Another $700,000 will benefit the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.

Thousands more go to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Can't these famous people pay for their own monuments?

I guess the idea is why pay for it yourself, if you can get some politician to give you taxpayers' money?

We wanted to talk to the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, about the spending, but he declined.

Too bad — I would have asked him about the programs approved for Alaska, which gets more than twice as much money per capita for pork projects as any other state, according to Citizens Against Government Waste.

Alaska got millions to "promote and develop fishery products," and more money to maintain the trail used by the Iditarod dog-sled race and $2 million for buses at an airport, which just happens to be named after Stevens.

I don't get it. Why ship everyone's money to Washington, D.C., only to have it shipped back, minus handling costs, to the Please Touch Museum or the Cherry Festival or Ted Stevens' airport?

Maybe it's so politicians can use your money to do favors for those who might vote for them. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., got some of his constituents $160,000 to study composting poultry poop in West Virginia.

Recently, Byrd berated Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for not giving him enough specifics about spending in Iraq. Byrd said, "The American people have a right to believe that their money is being spent most prudently."

But Byrd wouldn't agree to an interview so we could ask him why so much of our money goes to his state or why we have to pay to wall off an ornate corridor of Congress from the public, so Byrd can get a new office himself.

I just want you to know when politicians say they need more of your money, this is how they spend some of it.

Give Me a Break!