Cal  Thomas

Most Americans may not be fluent in the language of economics, but thanks to our Puritan heritage ("waste not, want not") we understand waste quite well.

The annual ritual of rendering unto Caesar on April 15 brings with it the always-useful "Congressional Pig Book." Compiled by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), the "Pig Book" lists some of the more outrageous spending indulged in by our "public servants" in pursuit of the only bipartisan activities still practiced in Washington: spending and re-election.

There are 9,129 pork barrel projects listed in the "2010 Congressional Pig Book." They represent a 10.2 percent decline from the 10,160 projects identified last year. "The reforms that were adopted when Democrats took over Congress in 2006 can be attributed to many years of work exposing earmarks," writes CAGW. Some of the more ridiculous pork projects in recent years have included $50 million for an indoor rainforest in Iowa and $500,000 for a teapot museum in North Carolina.

Even with a small reduction in pork, the CAGW found there is plenty left to outrage taxpayers whose money is being "spread around" to highly questionable projects. Such as:

Sean Hannity FREE

-- "$2,908,000 for shrimp aquaculture research in seven states requested by two senators and five representatives. Since 1985, $74.5 million has been appropriated for this research."

-- "$2,573,000 for potato research in four states requested by five senators and four representatives."

-- "$775,000 for the Institute for Food Science and Engineering (IFSE) requested by Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee member Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.)." According to CAGW, "One of IFSE's research areas is called 'Pickle Science and Technology,' which the institute's Web site boasts, 'is dedicated to increasing product value by improving production and quality of pickled vegetables.' The program, which enjoys significant industry support, includes the annual national evaluation of pickled vegetable products."

In the movie "State Fair," volunteer judges tasted pickles and gave awards for the best. Why has this become a federal responsibility?

In the defense category, there are earmarks "totaling $6,056,565,000 for 35 anonymous projects. This accounts for only 2 percent of the 1,752 earmarks, but 59 percent of the $10.3 billion cost of the bill, which is more than last year's 57 percent."

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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