clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


WASHINGTON - A Washington author and editor who is said to have credentials as an expert has written a book that gathers together many of those infuriating stories about federal pork-barrel spending.

Brian Kelly, in "Adventures in Porkland," has strung together tales of congressional palsmanship and power that bundle up federal money for spending, much of it out in the strange boondocks of rural America.Kelly tells once more of money for catfish farms and little-used highways, of agencies transferred to favored areas, of relentless demands for farm subsidies and academic grants, of largess spread by powerful lawmakers and the staggering cost of all of it.

He writes at great length about an attempt to get $500,000 for a museum on a North Dakota farm that was band leader Lawrence Welk's childhood home.

And while he tells much in the 271 pages of his book, Kelly does an expert's tap dance around what are some of the most revealing areas of "How Washington Wastes Your Money and Why They Won't Stop."

Despite favorable reviews and a coast-to-coast promotional tour, Kelly's work is less an expose of national scandal than it is another myopic Washington establishment view.

Simplified, it's the establishment's firm conviction that pork-barrel spending represents federal money appropriated for projects and programs in all the states and funny little towns outside the Washington area.

Inside the establishment it goes without saying that federal money lavished in and around Washington is necessary to the well-being of the nation's capital and the nation itself. It is never, ever "pork barrel."

One durable example that speaks volumes for the establishment myopia is the Metro Washington subway and surface rail system, a $10 billion pork-barrel project financed almost entirely by the nation's taxpayers.

As a measure of Kelly's expose, "Adventures in Porkland," it can be noted that the volume's index carries 15 separate references to Welk and Kelly's shock at the attempt in Congress to spend $500,000 for a museum in North Dakota.

There is not one index reference to Washington's Metro system and - from my reading - there are only two vague mentions of it.

A vague suggestion of Washington as pork-barrel beneficiary is contained in one passage. There Kelly makes a brief mention of a "billion-dollar boondoggle" in downtown Washington.

In the promotional material sent out with advance copies of the book, there's a handy list of 15 questions for radio and TV interviewers.

There ought to be one other question for the author: What about pork-barrel spending for Washington?