Where or where do my tax dollars go?

TRACKSIDE © by John DíAloia Jr.

April 20, 2004

It is appropriate on this Tax Day plus Five to resurrect "Where oh where do my tax dollars go" to note where some of that tax money you were just relieved of is going. It is hard to know exactly where to start, but the transportation bill is always worth a look. It has an infamous record as being the home for Congressional earmarks, otherwise known as bringing home the bacon. The watchdog organization Citizens Against Government Waste dishes up all the examples of pork one can handle in a single setting. In a website article discussing the home-town projects contained in the highway bill, CAGW listed representative examples, including these "transportation" projects: $1.5 million for a pedestrian streetscape in Long Beach, California, $250,000.00 for a museum in a Cleveland, Ohio, highschool, $134,917.00 for the historic preservation of a bus station in Eastman, Texas, and $3 million for a river-edge walkway and park in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Heritage Foundation counted 3,251 earmarks in the highway bill, and reported that in the 1998 highway bill, there were "only" 1,800 earmarks, and a mere 10 in 1982 - greed compounds - and you thought your gas tax money was going to fund projects that would improve the nationís transportation infrastructure. President Bush should veto the entire greasy mess.

Here are a few of the other pork barrel spending projects for the current fiscal year reported by CAGW, spending which it characterizes as "a corruption of the budget process": $200,000 to North Pole, Alaska, to implement recreation improvements for its 1,570 residents, $100,000 to renovate a Coca-Cola building in Macon, Georgia, $50 million for an indoor rainforest in Coralville, Iowa, and $238,000 on the National Wild Turkey Foundation in Edgefield, South Carolina. CAGW noted that the Turkey Foundation boasts 500,000 members and wondered why each member could not kick in a few bucks to come up with the dollars. Heck, why should they when with a bit of lobbying work they can fleece taxpayers. Let that gent over there support me.

Is it not gratifying for residents of rural Kansas to know that they have been so magnanimous in their generosity as to help Coca Cola renovate a building while they themselves are fighting increased taxes at all levels and having to tighten their belts. Government grants are not free money. When you strip away all the rhetoric and self-serving rationales proffered, they are nothing but theft, covered millenniums ago when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with a set of tablets. If you do not like the word "theft", then how about "legalized plunder" - what is going on is no different than the plunder of Caribbean pirates of yore or the pirates plying the South China Sea today. Rather than a broadside, a boarding cutlass, or an AK-47, the federal government uses its power to tax to take by force the resources of citizens and hand the booty to those in favor with people in power and with The Clerks. Government grants are a manifestation of societyís problems - the need for instant gratification, an unwillingness to exert the self discipline and will power to do what is possible and learn to live with what is not possible, and the willingness to turn to Uncle Sam to do the dirty work and satisfy desires, damn the morality or the consequences.

Congressional earmarks are a subcategory of grants, one with a very specific purpose. Earmarks are the use of tax dollars to buy good press and votes - "See what I have done for my home town - keep me in office - I will then have more seniority and I will bring even more money home next term." Every earmark made is the legislator telling you that he lacks a sense of his fiduciary duty and does not feel constrained by his oath of office dealing with the Constitution. He is playing to the greed of constituents and their failure to recognize the part they are playing in Leviathanís growth, their part in forging their own links in their tax-slave chain.

An e-mail pen pal asked me to define "The Clerks" as used in TRACKSIDE. For your edification, here is my definition, a work in-progress: "The Clerks. n. 1. The amorphous blob of unelected faceless bureaucrats who regulate our lives, given the authority to do so by laws that give them broad powers but which lack any form of meaningful oversight or control. 2. The Fourth Branch of government, unrecognized in the Constitution, but one which has amassed unaccountable powers over citizens, enabled by the Executive and Legislative branches and sustained by the subsequent neglect and disinterest of all three recognized branches of government."

See you Trackside.



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