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In passing the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014", the politicians of both parties are said, once again, not to have bothered reading the immensely interesting (π)* 1522-page bill.
*—π, as in "pie" in the face, so a symbol of 100% sarcasm.
Therefore, it may come as a bit of news to the people who affirmed their love of spending $1.1 trillion in the best interests of the USA (π), to point a few of the interesting tidbits I grabbed by a quick review of the particulars.
First off, just in case anybody is interested, Chrome pdf reader counted 2,894 occurrences of the "$" symbol. That's a lot of money being tossed this way and that, huh?
So, let's see, most of the money in the $1.1 trillion Republican-approved spending bill, went to "defense", which often ends up being rather offensive or just plain stupid.
For example, here's a recurring charge on your Congressional bill, that you might want to consider:
"For the 'Afghanistan Security Forces Fund': $4,726,720,000."That's $4.7 billion for Afghan security forces, one of the most beloved foreign aid projects Americans have ever supported (with zillions of dollars and 20,000 American casualties contributed so far). And don’t worry, every single penny will make Afghanistan a place the Taliban won’t soon reconquer (depending on what the meaning of "soon" is).
Meanwhile, over in Israel, the always progressive forces of eternal occupation of Palestine are making out great in DC too:
FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING PROGRAM
“…not less than $3,100,000,000 shall be available for grants ONLY FOR ISRAEL…”That's a cool $3 billion for the Israeli military, huh? And if you don't like giving all that money every year to a nation that is the biggest, dumbest, pain in the world's butt, well too bad. Because nobody in the USA pol-land is going to tell the Israelis (and the homegrown Jews) "no".
But, hey, you say, the Israelis are being threatened by bad people—or other bad people, and how will they defend themselves, if the USA doesn't chip in?
Well, not to worry:
"Of the amounts appropriated in this Act under the headings "Procurement, Defense-Wide" and 'Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide', $504,091,000 shall be for the Israeli Cooperative Program...of this amount, $235,309,000 shall be for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats."Isn't that nice?
In fairness, the US government is partners with Israel on this little rocket program, so pretty soon we can start putting up Iron Domes—with the Star of David on them—all over the USA. Those won't be targets for anything, huh?
And just so you don't think poor Egypt is being left in the lurch, you will be paying a hefty fee to keep that resurgent military dictatorship going:
"Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading 'Foreign Military Financing Program'…up to $1,300,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2015, may be made available for assistance for Egypt."
In addition, just so you don't think it all about military financing:
"$35,000,000 should be made available for higher education programs including not less than $10,000,000 for scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for Egyptian students with high financial need."
We have a LOT of people in the USA with high financial need, but you know, they're not living in a resurgent military dictatorship—no, the one in America is well established and quite stable—so poor people in the USA will just have to go without a scholarship.
And then there are the usual, extremely dubious allotments for extremely dubious activities:
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION: $2 billion
BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives): $1.2 billion
When was the last time you rolled a joint or mixed a drink made out of booze, smokes, gunpowder and nitro? Well, the BATFE would appreciate you keeping them informed when you do it, so they can keep justifying their budget.
FEDERAL PRISON SYSTEM: $6,769,000,000
With 216,338 federal inmates (a little less than 10% of national total of incarcerated persons), that works out to about $31,000 per federal prisoner. Since most of the inmates are doing time for drug offenses, maybe we could give the non-violent offenders $31,000, a bag of weed, and a bus ticket to Denver (with a federal pass in case some drug-sniffing dog intercepts them on the road). Couldn't be worse than what we're doing now.
In addition to locking up federal prisoners, the budget of the prison system is also applied to some curious, non-domestic operations:
"For necessary expenses of the Federal Prison System...and for the provision of technical assistance and advice on corrections related issues to foreign governments."
Winning hearts and minds by helping foreign governments build kinder, gentler solitary confinements?
Next, we have something called "Democracy Programs", offered in foreign aid:
"Of the funds appropriated by this Act, not less than $2,849,555,000 should be made available for democracy programs."
Democracy program is defined:
"For purposes of funds appropriated by this Act, the term 'democracy programs' means programs that support good governance, credible and competitive elections, freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion, human rights, labor rights, independent media, and the rule of law."Yep, you read that right. You're spending almost $3 billion to help the US government promote RELIGION (among other things) in foreign lands. What the hell does religion have to do with democracy? Doesn't say. But then, once again, who reads things like 1500-page budgets anyway?
Lastly, just so you know your fellow citizens in government have their priorities straight (or according to their orientations), several times in the omnibus spending bill, we are warned that agencies and bureaus of the US federal government have to obey the following directive:
"None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to maintain or establish a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and exchanging of pornography."
Presumably, this directive seeks to remedy some problem that had cropped up in government-established computer networks—other than the fact they often just don't work worth a damn.
Anyway, you can probably imagine how these few gems just give you a tiny taste of how well your money is being spent by those always wise and discerning folks you intentionally sent to Congress to make crap like this happen to you (and everybody else).