Thank Congress for a New Year of Pork Barrel Spending
In this season of giving, it’s important that the holiday spirit moves us to thank Congress and the many taxpayer-funded federal agencies throughout the country for their support of so many worthy causes. Feelings of good tidings should be especially hearty in these days of $3 trillion annual federal budget deficits and a national debt that now exceeds $27.5 trillion.
For instance, we should all be grateful to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) secured more than $1.9 million in 2019 to pay for the live-streaming of eclipses. Of course, as libertarians, we firmly believe that government has a sacred responsibility to show its citizens live-streamed eclipses, especially when anyone interested could view these events live on a commercial platform such as YouTube.
Another vital federal function is using social media to help persuade mothers to discourage their teenage daughters from using indoor tanning beds. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CO) got the Department of Health and Human Services to appropriate $607,418 for this purpose in 2019. No reports have thus far been issued as to the success of this campaign.
Meanwhile, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), convinced the Institute of Museum and Library Services to award $248,200 to the “Wash and Learn Initiative.” The money will be used to fund such high academic pursuits such as librarians visiting laundromats to “gather feedback and deploy new approaches to story time at laundromats.”
Socialism for the rich is another libertarian priority. Thus, we’re pleased to share news that Rep. Norton also persuaded the Agency for International Development to spend $26,371,448 on the Aga Khan Foundation USA. The funds will be used to support “civil society,” “community health,” and “local development” in Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, and Tajikistan. The foundation needs the money desperately since the current Aga Khan organization’s net worth is only about $800 million. Among other assets, the Aga Khan owns 600 racehorses and a private island in the Bahamas.
Along the same lines, we were pleased to learn that Rep. William Keating (D-MA) helped obtain $1.3 million last year to fund the airport that functionally only services the millionaire enclave of Martha’s Vineyard. Since 2008, American taxpayers have paid $42.9 million for improvements at this airport. But it’s for all for a good cause. After all, the likes of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Dan Aykroyd, Tommy Hilfiger, and Taylor Swift can now arrive at the airport on private jets while enjoying all the benefits of taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
But we don’t want to give the Democratic Party sole credit for these enlightened spending priorities. For instance, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) secured a whopping $32.6 million over the last seven years for the privately-owned Shiloh Treatment Facility. Shiloh provides children’s mental health services. It does such an effective job treating its pediatric patients that the center has been the subject of numerous local, state, and federal child abuse investigations.
And in the spirit of caring about the physical and mental health of our brothers and sisters overseas, we were thrilled to learn that the National Institute of Health spent nearly $1.5 million to determine if young people in the Middle East could be persuaded to stop smoking hookah. And that the US Agency for International Development cares so much about delinquent youth in the Philippines that it spent $37.5 million to help the Filipino government deal with the problem.
We also should thank the Centers for Disease Control. Not for its efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 so that we can go back to “normal,” but for awarding $2.1 million to the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia. The grant will be used to provide sex education to Ethiopian prostitutes, who most certainly need it – although apparently US sex workers apparently do not, as no grant monies were set aside for them. Of course, these numbers are miniscule compared to say, the $27.5 trillion federal debt. And when it comes to truly inspired spending, the Department of Defense emerges as a clear champion.
Our all-time favorite defense-related expenditure is for the Lockheed F-35 combat jet. America’s taxpayers are slated to shell out more than $1.7 trillion over the plane’s anticipated lifespan. And it’s money well spent, of course, apart from a few minor performance and software issues (about 900 in all). For instance, the F-35 can’t fly in a thunderstorm or operate at supersonic speeds without risking structural damage. It also can’t dogfight or eject pilots in an emergency without killing or seriously injuring them. Not to mention the fact that the F-35’s rotary cannon can’t shoot straight.
That’s why we’re so proud of Rep. John Larson (D-CT). By his own proclamation, Larson has “led the fight for continued production of the F-35.” Indeed, he believes the F-35 is such an effective combat weapon that he helped persuade Congress to authorize production of 90 of the fighters in the 2020 defense authorization bill. That’s 12 more than the military had even asked for.
Sadly, there have been a few efforts by killjoys to reduce government spending. For instance, in 2019, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) proposed cutting 2% from the federal budget for the next five years. Thankfully, only 22 senators voted in favor of a motion that would have brought this outrageous proposal to a vote.
And we’re even more pleased that our politicians are proposing enormous spending increases, paid for by more borrowing. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has proposed an initiative she calls a Green New Deal. One estimate for the initiative’s 10-year cost that includes “Medicare for All,” guaranteed federal jobs, and food security comes to $93 trillion.
But why worry? After all, ever since President Nixon abandoned all semblance of the gold standard in 1971, our government can create as much money as it wants out of thin air – no problem. And any government that issues its own currency can always pay its bills with the cash it creates.
Just remember Maximilian Bern.
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