Pork and the Wall

Bill Neinast


It’s time for a little perspective.  So lean back and put on your thinking cap.

Now visualize a pile of one trillion dollars of $100.00  bills.  Placed on regular shipping pallets, an area 224 feet wide, by 433.33 feet long, by seven feet high would be required.  Then enlarge that space 3.5 times.

The sum of that multiplication would be the area required to store the 3.5 trillion dollar federal budget in $100.00 bills.  In stacks, they would cover 35,000 regular shipping pallets.  How many regular sized tractor/trailer rigs would be required to move that load?


Only  50 of those 35,000 pallets would carry the five billion dollars our President has requested for an international border barrier.  That is such a relatively small amount, the 50 pallets would hardly be missed.

So what part of the stack would those 50 pallets come from?  Every dollar in those 35,000 stacks is already earmarked for some specific agency or cause.  Which of those can be scratched?

The answer is easy.  It can be found in the

“Congressional Pig Book” published by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). 

This annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget is available on the internet. 

A "pork" project is a line item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures. To qualify as pork, a project must meet one of seven criteria that were developed in 1991 by CAGW and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition.

The federal government’s 2018 budget more than doubles earmarked spending compared to the prior year. This year, taxpayers are on the line for $14.7 billion in pork projects.

How, you wonder, does all this pork get into the federal budget?

The procedure is simple and easy.  Each item is a line item amendment to an appropriation bill once it gets out of committee.  They get added to an appropriation bill by the good old boy network.

That is where Representative Jones tells Representative Smith, “I’ll support your proposal to build the Smith Federal Building in your district if you will support me in refurbishing and renaming the visitors’ center in that national park in my district as the Representative Jones Memorial Visitors Center.”

Smith says, “OK” and turns to Representative Cantu with, “Hey, Joe, I’ll support that project of yours if you will support mine.”

This exchange goes on and on until there is more than enough for the annual Pig Book.

In the current Pig Book, the Department of Defense is one of the largest recipients of pork.  Within DOD, the Army Corps of Engineers appears to be the heaviest pork eater.

Army Corps of Engineers is a misnomer.  The title indicates that it designs and builds structures and infrastructures for the military.  In reality, however, in peacetime, well over 90% of the Corps activity is constructing various things desired by those in the good old boys network.

Lake Somerville, for example, is an Army Corps of Engineers project.  Can you think of any way that artificial body of water is connected to the Army, DOD, or national defense?

So here’s the perspective.

There is probably five billion dollars worth of pork in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget.  Diverting some or all of that to build a barrier along the southern border would be serving a national defense need.

Such a diversion, however, would delay some congressman’s pet project for a year or more.  The resulting howls of protest would be heard all the way to Lake Somerville.

The loudest protests would come from juvenile Nancy Pelosi, because the funds would be going for, in her words, an immoral project.

She would prefer that any diverted funds be used to improve the ports of entry.  Does she really not know the vast difference between the controlled ports of entry and the wide open Rio Grande?

In conclusion, funds are already available to build barriers under a Declaration of Emergency.

Go for it, Mr. President!



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