According to a new report from Citizens Against Government Waste.
WASHINGTON (AP) – A Washington-based taxpayer watchdog group says North Dakota and South Dakota rank high when it comes to pork-barrel spending.
North Dakota ranked third and South Dakota ranked seventh in Citizens Against Government Waste’s annual rankings of federal money directed to the 50 states.
Neither Senators Kent “Budget Hawk” Conrad or Byron Dorgan are apologetic about nabbing so much government pork for North Dakota. Probably because, for them, pork is defined as “Federal money we use to keep our liberal selves elected in a red state.”
Dakotas congressional members have typically made few apologies for federal projects. North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan and South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, both Democrats, sit on the Senate committee that doles out federal spending.
That’s our congressional delegation, selling North Dakota sovereignty down the drain a dollar at a time.
Over at Area Voices Grand Forks Herald city beat reporter Tu-Uyen Tran argues that some of the pork North Dakota gets is actually beneficial. I’d tend to agree in principle, though his lumping of bike paths into the “necessary pork” category seems like a pretty big stretch to me.
A lot of the time pork money goes for things like roads. Bridges. Sewage infrastructure. Anti-flooding measures. These appropriations of federal dollars make sense because the entire nation is served by a strong infrastructure. Meaning it is beneficial for people in Florida to have North Dakota farmers able to bring their crops to market. And so on and so forth. Plus, when we consider that in terms of government spending problems pork spending is several orders of magnitude less important than entitlement spending you begin to wonder why so many groups spend so much time hammering on pork.
The thing is that we have moved so far beyond funding these infrastructure projects from the federal level that it isn’t even funny. Not only does a great deal of pork get wasted on useless building projects (bridge to nowhere, public buildings to be named after politicians) and questionable contracts with businesses that usually have some sort of connection to a member of Congress, it also has a terribly corrupting influence on Congress. Given the largely non-transparent manner in which earmarks are requested and appropriated, not to mention the woefully confusing federal appropriation process in general, the potential for quid pro quo arrangements and corruption is enormous with federal earmarks.
And then there is also the question of state sovereignty as I mentioned above. Federal dollars aren’t typically doled out from Congress on the basis of good will alone. Every single federal dollar that comes into a state has a string attached to it, and the folks in Washington DC use those strings to make the states do their bidding. Everything from health and human services funding to highway funding comes with certain conditions about laws in this state which must be met before we get the cash. The more our state is dependent on that money, the more control the federal government has over our state.
We need to ask ourselves: Do we want decisions made locally or in Washington DC? Because while people like Senators Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan are more than happy to keep the federal money floodgates open for North Dakota, all that money means more federal control over our state.