The House defense bill passed out of subcommittee last week, and there are 1,776 earmarks contained therein. 1776? That Congress is so patriotic.
When we hear the term “earmarks,” the first thing that might pop into our heads is “pork project.” Since this particular bill is for defense, and there’s nothing more important than making sure America’s finest have everything they need to do their jobs, we must not simply assume that these earmarks are wastes of money.
It’s important to keep in mind that earmarks are supposed to be items that were left out – either on purpose or accidentally – from the original budget, but a member of Congress has deemed them a necessity due to either requests from a branch of the military, or because an election is coming up and a few more jobs in his or her district couldn’t hurt.
So when we see some of these rather large earmarks that are basic safety items for our troops, such as helmet inserts, it should make us wonder: 1) Why they weren’t in the original defense budget, and/or 2) Is it an unnecessary redundancy being provided just to get a fat-cat congressman some pork votes?
Looking at defense earmarks through the years, one thing is certain: Even the most vehemently anti-war person ever to walk through the doors of Congress won’t balk at having a huge tank or missile factory in his or her district. Conviction is checked at the door even before the hats and coats.
A dead giveaway of deception for the purposes of huge expense justification is over-complex terminology for basic items – expositional Rube Goldberg machines.
For example, a perusal of the defense bill uncovers an earmark for “Expendable Airdrop Delivery Systems.” A member of the military told me that these are probably pallets that can be left behind. If the military in fact needs them, they should have them, but what’s the difference between “Expendable Airdrop Delivery Systems” and pallets? Probably several million taxpayer dollars.
Below are some actual earmarks in the defense bill along with my best shot at deciphering what they actually mean:
Cold Weather Layering System = Jackets
Extended Cold Weather Clothing Hand Protection System = gloves
Remote Environmental Monitoring and Diagnostics in the Perishables Supply Chain = portable refrigerators
Nano-Crystalline Cement for High Strength, Rapid Curing Concrete with Improved Blast Resistance = A congressman is about to get a new driveway.
C-130 Active Noise Cancellation = mufflers and soundproof aircraft walls
Mission Hospital Computer Physician Order Entry Initiative = centralized medical database
Contextual Arabic Blog and Slang Analysis Program = how to tell if someone’s saying they’re going to kill you in Farsi
Dual-Stage Ultra-Reliable Water Filtration Technology Development = Brita-awarded government contract thanks to huge campaign donation
Assessment of Alternative Energy for Aircraft Ground Equipment = hybrid gas trucks
Inertia Reel Restraint System Retrofit = new seat belts
Unmanned Threat Emitter Modernization = updated automatic warning systems
Ballistic Missile Range Safety Technology = signs that say “Do not enter: Ballistic missile testing range”
Vibration Management Enhancement Program = new shock absorbers
Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle = suped-up, fortified Prius (As test piloted by Al Gore III, the Chuck Yeager of the environmental movement)
Spherical Airship R&D = This could have something to do with making cool frisbees for kids at the next congressional picnic, though I’m not 100 percent sure.
Active Combustion Control System for Military Aircraft = in-flight fire extinguishers
Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Structures for Improved Survivability and Performance = fortified chassis
Advanced Photovoltaic Material Integration Development = solar panels
Green Product Evaluation and Implementation Program = war zone carbon credits
Full Spectrum Active Protection Close-In Layered Shield for Thin-Skinned Vehicles = kevlar vehicle cozy
Space Situational Awareness = spy satellite
Kinetic Hydropower System Turbine = water wheel
Urban Warfare Analysis Center = new government office in the country near a golf course
Fully Integrated Solar Powered Interior Lighting Technology = sun roof
Wow, that was a lot of bureaucrat-speak to decipher. I could really use a “Bottomed Cylindrical De-Apertured Dihydrogen Monoxide Repository” (glass of water). I’m parched.
One final thing – I noticed that Jerry Lewis has 38 earmarks, and I’m surprised one of these wasn’t “Circular media containment alloy with rectangular electronic audio/visual data presentation device for deployment to European theater of operations.” This would be translated as “shipping Jerry Lewis DVD’s to France.”
I know it’s not that Jerry Lewis, but sometimes with Congress it’s hard to tell the difference.