Useless little piggies

I couldn't figure out how to add all this in a comment, so I apologize for having to make this another post. This is in response to Screwy's question about Chuck Taylor's effectiveness in earmarking House appropriations funds.

If you start diving into the House appropriations committee earmark miasma, it's going to make you sick and disgusted. Truly. And you're also going to find that the @$$holes cover their tracks prettty darn well. Though I haven't found a good central database of all earmarks by Congressman, I did find one site that looks promising. It shows that in 2004, North Carolina ranked DEAD LAST among all states in earmarked appropriations. In 2005, NC had moved up to 47th.

I personally think the whole earmark business sucks and that our so-called conservative House members are hypocrites of the highest order for slopping at the public trough and then trying to brag about it. That said, for anyone to claim Chuckie Taylor is especially effective at anything besides embarrassing North Carolina seems to be little more than wishful thinking. It looks like our entire Congressional delegation pretty much sucks at bringing home the bacon.

Take a look at the attachment for a first hand look at the trough.


Here's the rub....

I am about to piss off some folks, but.....we SHOULD run on this.....if you don't want to read the whole thing, look at the graphs at the end....they tell it all. A ten- fold increase in pork related bills during the ten years of having the Repubs in charge. And they were going to change how the system works.....I guess that they did!!

Easy, huh? Slam dunk.....Not really- because we WON'T run on this nationally, because like "ethics/lobbying" reform- Democrats don't really want to change the system either!! At least not Democrats that are a part of it. I do not deny that there is a base in our party for changing this, but unfortunately....there are few Dems in Congress leading this fight with more than lip service....

Maybe I have been watching too much West Wing.......


This is what I suspected. The Great and Powerful Charles Taylor tells his constituents that if he's defeated the government money will dry up. The fact is that he's done a terrible job of leading money to the district. I'd like to see less pork in the federal budget and more infrastructure building. We can get a Road to Nowhere, but we can't get light rail?

Taylor hasn't done a tenth of what he could have done for the district. The myth that he has been the Great and Benevolent Taylor needs to be squashed.

Anglico, thanks for reading and responding. We're a powerful bunch when can work together.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Good or Bad?

I'm not really understanding this. Are you saying "Holy crap! Our government needs to stop earmarking so much money for ridiculous projects"? Or are you saying, "Charles Taylor, bring us more pork!"? I hate Chuckles as much as any of you, but the two aforementioned notions don't really go together. I understand your point that he's ineffective. But he's ineffective at doing something you don't like. It's kind of like saying "George Bush doesn't even know how to cut funds to crucial government programs. Gee, he sucks."

You'll need to ask Chuck.

Because the question this thread addresses is a response to the implicit and sometimes explicit argument that incumbents make about bacon. As chair of an appropriations subcommitte, Taylor's supporters have a strong argument that he's in an excellent position to steer federal dollars to NC. And even if you won't see it printed in Taylor's own promotional material, you can bet the argument is being made—"even if you like Shuler better, you've sure got to hate losing a guy with that kind of seniority."

So you really should be asking Taylor your question: is he against pork, or is he for it when it's handy to get himself reelected? All Screwy is doing is arming himself (and us) to meet the argument when he hears it. "Even if you accept pork as a reason to keep the guy, he's not even doing that well."

A second point

My point above was essentially, Mike, that your question doesn't need answering. It's like if Charles was arguing that he was exceptionally gifted at rolling joints. We could fairly compile evidence that that isn't true without addressing the question of whether it's OK to smoke marijuana; Taylor brought it up.

But a second point occurs to me, and it may be getting lost in this discussion. "Pork" can be defined as localized federal spending that you don't like. I don't know what the word is for localized federal spending that you do like—let's call it "chicken," the original white meat. Taylor's supporters will never say (too loudly) that their man brings home the wasteful federal spending. They'll say that he funded this important thing, or that important program. In other words, they'll say that he's been bringing home the chicken.

Of course, one man's chicken is another man's pork. I was watching an old episode of the West Wing the other night and Congressman Tom Skerritt was holding up some bill or other because he wanted the missile defense facility built in his district that he'd been promised years ago. The argument against that piece of localized federal spending was that the missile system didn't work. Skerritt responded that it would still keep America safer by showing our enemies that we're taking missile defense seriously, yadda yadda. The point is that what Skerritt planned to bring home as chicken was pork to the President's staff.

I had a point; here it is: there are really two distinct questions. First, is Taylor good at bringing federal dollars to NC-11? Second, independent of whether the answer to the first question is yes or no, what's the balance in what he does bring home between chicken and pork? The first question is more interesting for political reasons simply because the second question rarely swings against the incumbent—NC-11 isn't a wealthy district, and citizens might be willing to eat ham hocks and call them drum sticks. But a citizen well-equipped to make a case for voting against an incumbent will be informed on both the quantity and quality questions.

Sorry, Pork Council.

A Point in Support of Screwy!

I worked for the forest service and a bit on NPS fire crews. I can take anyone around who wants to come over to Graham County and show them rundown federaly funded camping areas. Now ,just to stay in the nicer paid areas cost's $10 per night per site. Where does that leave the local population? Without!

A few points

1. Thanks for clarifying everything, all. Yes, I'd like to know how much of the other white meat Taylor brings home in comparison to others on the Appropriations Committee. If that's the pork barrel committee, then Taylor's either (1) lousy at bringing home the bacon and lying about how good he is at it; or (2) claiming "fiscal conservatism" about things like the Flight 93 memorial while touting his hog calling skills for things like the Road to Nowhere.

2. John Armor, in a conversation about the forest selloff plan, pointed out that the Forest Service ought to be fully funded. Taylor is crowing about the Road to Nowhere but has been inept in getting the USFS funded. Our #1 industry is tourism, and Charlie can't be bothered to fund the forests?

3. Lance, you've got an excellent talent for turning a phrase.

4. ASAP, I'll be researching how Taylor's numbers stack up against the other A.C. members. I don't know what it will all end up meaning, but I do know that we can not allow Taylor to slide by with the simple fiction that he is an effective fundraiser for WNC. We need to kick that leg out from under him.

5. BlueNC rocks.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

I searched the database

and could only find CT's name on one thing...$1,000,000 for Western Carolina for a computer engineering program. I don't know if it's a complete database or partial.

I have no problem with $1,000,000 for this program. Maybe, as pork goes, this was pretty benign. I do have a problem with touting this as a big loss if he's not elected. There were Democrats who got more pork than Taylor.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Glad that's all settled.

For the record, I find little to recommend in the practice of Congress people slopping at the federal trough to bring home any kind of meet, red, white or the other white. If you study the chart, it's hard to make sense of this kind of wholesale redistribution of dollars. I understand that some of it may be necessary for reasons of equity and/or security, but at the core, it's fundamentally inefficient . . . the artifact of years and years of inintended consequences.

But my main reason for wading in, as Lance indicated, is to point out the hypocrisy. Virginia Foxx put the sad story on the front pages a month or so ago with this:

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-10th, also pushed for the funding. "I have fought to cut spending, to pay off the deficit, and to offset any new spending with spending cuts," Foxx said in a statement. "However, once the budget is set and the Congress has decided it is going to spend our hard-earned tax dollars on economic development projects, then I am going to fight for economic development projects in Western North Carolina."


OK...I found more

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


Sorry; I'm still thinking about this.

Zone Arguments Analysis

(a lot of gratuitous federal spending)
Incumbent:  "I have been instrumental in
bringing money to my district."
This is a great
place for a Republican challenger to be -- arguing both for limited
government and that the opponent is crooked, corrupt. The challenger's
downside, whatever the party, is that people in district X are a lot
less likely to call a project "pork" when it means money coming into
their district.
Challenger: "The Congressman has been spending federal
dollars left and right on projects that only benefit a few of us."

(a lot of needed federal spending)
Incumbent:  "I have been instrumental in
bringing money to my district, and look at what good we've done with
that money!"
incumbent.  She has been effective at directing federal
dollars back home, and has done a lot of good in the district. Why not
vote for her again? This is the zone that every incumbent will argue
that she belongs in.  Only a "limit government no matter what"
challenger should even be talking about federal spending in the
district in this zone.
Challenger: (there's not much the challenger can say in
this zone besides calling for limits on government spending.)

(pork, and not much of it)
Incumbent: "I don't believe in wasteful government
This is
challenger heaven: the Congressman sucks at bringing home federal
dollars, and when he does, they only benefit ridiculous pet projects.
Challenger: "...unless it goes to one or two porky pet
projects? Our district has needs that the Congressman has failed to
address, choosing instead to line the pockets of his friends."

(a small amount of needed federal spending)
Incumbent: "I don't believe in wasteful government
The challenger
argues that the incumbent is doing the right thing but not doing enough
of it, and that she could do better. The challenger should stay
specific about particular local needs so as to limit the incumbent's
ability to level the charge that she supports increasing the size of
government (especially if the challenger is a liberal).
Challenger: "Our district has needs that the
Congressman has failed to address; he is ineffective at bringing home
the bacon."

It seems clear that Taylor is on the low end of the quantity scale—weak for an appropriations subcommittee chair—and if you add in the proposed road to nowhere (and why wouldn't you?) he's more in zone "c" than "d." I know we've already established this, but I wanted to write it down as a general proposition before getting back to work on me paper (argh).

You are too much.

This is bordering on brilliant, and would be absolutely brilliant if you'd added super clever names to the four quadrants. Oh nevermind, it's brilliant as it is. Now get back to studying.


That is amazing. Perhaps, you can add pictures of different members of the NC delegation onto the chart, including Taylor, obviously.

That would be a great project

The quality axis is really subjective, but I'll bet we could establish some criteria for judgment calls. Or we could put together a panel of distinguished guests and give them program descriptions with information that would identify the representative stripped out and have them assign scores 0-10 that could then be weighted according the the number of $$ spent on the program over our timeframe.

The quantity is easier. I think average per-capita dollars per year over our timeframe would work nicely.



You're outdoing yourself. This is the kind of porkographical analysis is a wonderful idea.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

For anyone who cares.....

Michael Grunwald has a article in todays WAPO about I mean "earmarks" Here's the link

i did a little bit of number crunching...

okay - i pulled up the north carolina pork list from the database on the citizens against government waste site, highlighted as many of the earmarks that were directly related to the 11th district (the spreadsheet can be found here - if anyone finds any errors, please feel free to let me know. oh, and you'll need microsoft excel to view it)


- of the $226,845,700 earmarked for the state of NC, only 5.07997% ($11,523,700) of that went directly to the 11th district.

- as of the 2000 census, the total population of the 11th district is 593,720, representing 7.37603% of a total statewide population of 8,049,313.

if you look at it proportionately, wouldn't it stand to reason that 7.4% of the population would get 7.4% of the appropriations? i know that's a little hard to quantify, and that these results can be spun either way, but from a simple mathematic standpoint it doesn't look like taylor is as effective as he's trying to snowball the media and his constituents into thinking.

It can be argued that the 11th should get more than 1/13th

For one thing, it's a huge district with a largely decentralized population. You can think of any number of projects that cost less to provide to dense population groups than to spread out groups. (I'm thinking anything that involves infrastructure or offices.)

But also, this is a Republican-controlled congress, and Taylor's on appropriations, for god's sake.

syntax, I don't know how much time this work took up--is it something you can reproduce for the other districts? Specifically, it would be nice to know which Democrats did a better job than Taylor. That would be a nice list to read off at a press conference.

Syntax..another thing

to keep in mind is whether the projects were controversial in nature. That might indicate something that needed experience to bring to the table. I looked at those yesterday and nothing stood out as controversial. Another thing is to look at how many Democrats are credited with bringing in the same or more pork. I hate to do it that way, but if a Democrat can bring home as much bacon in a Republican controlled House, that doesn't say much for CT's effectiveness either.

I'd like to think that the pork for education or transportation issues would be easier to get and less controversial...they aren't "pet projects" like the road to nowhere.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

well, there's the teapot museum...

looking at the list of nc appropriations for fy06, the one thing that really stands out as controversial was the $250k earmarked for the sparta teapot museum.

that's a pretty big chunk of useless pork that can be chalked up to rep. prunejuice over in the 5th.

I collect NC pottery

I'm all for the museum :) better that than a lot of other useless hall of fame, baseball hall of fame, rock and roll hall of fame, NASCAR hall of fame.....the list is endless.

I realize that one was controversial, but it was also a really small slice of the pie comparatively.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

i like museums, too!

and $250k really isn't that big a piece, but someone really needs to justify appropriations funding for this. nea funding would make more sense to me, but that's just me.

i'm betting that the really controversial stuff happens during the odd-numbered fiscal years, the ones that start after the two-year election cycles.

i'll look @ fy05 (starting w/ the 11th, of course...)

Excellent Idea!

Now you know I'm not saying this expenditure was necessarily appropriate in today's climate....I'm just saying....I like museums and teapots have some history here in

I think you're right...take a look at '05 and '03. If he didn't bring anything home in those years then he's just blowing smoke and he has some reporters playing stenographer.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.


This project is expanding. Perhaps instead of doing all of this research, you could break it up into 30-60 minute chunks and put up a blog post describing:

--the scope of each chunk

--the resources and methods you used

--the information that sould be compiled at the completion of each assignment.

We can sign up for chunks in the comments. Just a thought.


as sure as eggs is eggs, finals week is the wrong week for a big political research project, at least for me. splitting this project up would probably be the most efficient thing to do.

what i did for the 11th district spreadsheet that i posted:

- i copied the tabular data from the c.a.g.w. website for north carolina appropriations, fiscal year '06, and copied it into a spreadsheet.

- i consulted wikipedia for a map of the 11th, and looked up the populations of each individual county and did an autosum.

- i went through the list, item by item, and identified which earmarks actually specified areas within the 11th district using towns, cities and counties as keywords (i highlighted them in green)

- calculated the percentage of ( total 11th appropriations / total state appropriations )

- compared population of 11th vs. total appropriation

now, the 7.4% population figure i arrived at is not correct, but close.

we should probably also do fy05 as well. i'll go ahead and do nc-11 and nc-5, but i probably won't be able to present any findings until later this evening (i need to do some work, seeing as how i'm at work and everything, heh heh...)

surely there's a better way...

can anyone recommend a website that can display population data for each congressional district as of 2000? i was going county-by-county, but seeing how screwed up the gerrymandering is for districts 1, 3, and 12, i know that this isn't going to be a reliable metric.

I use the census bureau.

here's the census bureau for the 11th -- 619,177. You can pick the other districts or go by county.

12 is Mel Watt

I doubt he has too much pork to his name. I'm thinking the big one in Charlotte for light rail came from Robin Hayes and Sue Myrick...

I'll try to help, but it's Monday and I have to get my scouts stuff together for my juniors and cadets.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Heads Up

I like this project, and I think it's worth discussing in private. I just set up a new group, "Piggy Project" where we can continue our discussion on the project without revealing our plans for world domination to the world.

Click on "groups" over on the left of your screen, then click "Piggy Project" in the list that appears. If you're already a member of the group (I added a few people manually), you'll see a new "Piggy Project" menu on the top left of your screen that will let you add to the discussion, and you'll also see my first entry for the group.

If you're not a member, you'll see a "request subscription" (or something like that) in the top left of your screen. Click that and it will let me know to add you.

See you there!