Onion pungency. Ornamental fish. Cranberry breeding. How to de-bone salmon.Â Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against food. I just don’t think the nation’s taxpayers should be spending millions of dollars on onion pungency studies and anti-salmon-bone technology.
Our career congressmen no doubt disagree. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, over the past year our congressmen have splurged more than $1.7 billion on federal grants for just such academic projects, earmarked for the home districts of powerful legislators. In other words: pork. Something to serve up to a particular interest group in your district to help flavor the reelection bid.
Academic pork is, in fact, 60 percent fatter than it was just a year earlier. Can we be sure it’s pork? Well, let’s think about this. Nine of ten states that got the most grant money happen to have legislators heading up the relevant congressional committees. Meanwhile, nine of ten states at the bottom of the grant heap have no committee heads in their congressional delegations. This is the kind of pattern you expect to see when career politicians are putting personal careers ahead of the common good.
For example, New Hampshire wasn’t doing very well in the academic pork area until Congressman Judd Gregg became top dog of a subcommittee overseeing the Commerce and Justice Departments. Now Dartmouth is getting an $18 million earmark to study cybercrime and the University of New Hampshire is getting $14 million for a marine lab and a pier. Sounds fishy to me.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.