Friday, March 6, 2009

Media Missing in Action: More on Earmarks

Does anybody in the media ever read anything, do anything other than gossip with their counterparts and political operatives?

As I pointed out before, the earmarks in the Omnibus Appropriation Bill for 2009 constitute less than 2% of the total. 2 billion dollars. The effect on the debt or the deficit? Invisible. And we are in a major, major recession by any criteria. Government spending in this environment pretty much can't be bad. And if Representatives and Senators want to direct some of that money to projects of particular interest to them, who cares? (If earmarks were 50% or 75% of the bill, I might argue differently although, again, in this economic climate, I'm pretty much for government spending of any kind.)

Two of the earmarks that have gotten special treatment from John McCain and the media particularly irritate me as examples of "unprincipled" spending: the research on hog smells & manure in Iowa, and on termites in Louisiana. I am neither a farmer, nor a Southerner. But I do read widely. So I know that the effluent from factory hog farms (smells and manure disposal) are both major environmental problems that also have significant economic consequences as well. But nobody on TV (or, unfortunately, on NPR) seems to have read Michael Pollen. As for the termites, I'm not up-to-date on the current situation, but I recall reading that termites in New Orleans are especially destructive, hard (impossible?) to kill, and moving north. That isn't good for anybody who lives in a wood building.

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