Now normal pork is bad enough. It leads to things like $50 million for a rain forest in Iowa or a $200 million bridge for an airport that serves 500 people a day. Thanks to the way out country is set up the votes of citizens in less populated states are more powerful than those of citizens in places like New York or California, so money flows from the productive coasts in to the underpopulated heartland. The red staters love to whine about big government but the truth is they spend more tax money than they collect while the opposite is true for the liberal blue states. Just a fact of the system.
Now the love of pork has spread to national defense. I'm not just talking about the normal pork as national defense stuff we've had forever, ever since those wonderful days of $500 toilet seats and $1,200 hammers. I'm not talking about military bases expanding in the states that support the party in power and closing in other states, or billions upon billions of dollars sunk into pointless unnecessary hardware designed for wars that will never be fought. That stuff's the reason we have a military budget that makes every other country look like it's watching the Frugal Gourmet while we're shopping with Wolfgang Puck ($10,000 for a pound of truffles this exquisite? Oh it's a BARGAIN dahling, an absolute bargain.) That stuff's the reason that Ronnie Reagan and his intellectual (can you use that word with these people?) descendant Georgie Bush run up the deficit like it's the middle of one of those Visa Magic Moments promotions and if we just spend enough someone will swoop in and make all the debt disappear, then we can all go to Disney World.*
That spend-a-thon's part of American culture right now, and while it's pretty pointless (We need an EXTRA $89 billion or more just to wage a few peace actions.) it's merely wasteful, not fatal.
The same can't be said for homeland security. Thanks to the Bush doctrine of: The way to prevent terrorism is to go overseas and piss people off so much that they'll be like "Oh, I'm so mad at you, I can't bomb you, I can't even stand to LOOK at you! Ohhh I'm just so angry. Talk to your mother I can't speak to you right now, talk to your mother. Oooo!" very little money has been spent on homeland security. If the military budget is a Mack Truck careening down the highway at 70 MPH then the Homeland Security budget is a matchbox car and it just got stopped dead in its tracks by a doggie chew toy.
Of course logic (which no longer has a place in politics) would dictate that with such an essential mission and such a small pie that it would be carefully divided up among those who need it most, or at least fairly divided so that each citizen could receive the same amount of protection. Logic, my friends, is on a lunchbreak. A very, very, very long lunchbreak. In fact the money has been divided up just as you would expect from past behavior by our legislators. Per capita the small states get more and the big states, well, they get told "If you lie back and stay still it won't hurt so much, you might even enjoy it."
This formula is unfair when it comes to things like grain subsidies, but it's crazy when it comes to homeland security. Now maybe New Mexico or Montana would have a legitimate claim that they needed the money to stiffen up controls at the border so that terrorists don't sneak in. Of course this isn't really being done with the homeland security money, but in theory it could be and it could make sense. On the other hand what, exactly, is the logic for giving Wyoming 6 times the money per capita of a place like New York. Is it "Terrorists ain't never gonna attack no New York City, but DANG NAB IT if Jackson Hole ain't a temptin' target. They could blow up the hole, then it'd just be Jackson, and we already got a Jackson. We needs some money to protect it." Not exactly compelling. The actual logic is, of course, that since Wyoming has far more representation per capita than New York does it gets far more money per capita. That's pork barrel logic, and if there's one thing that holds true about all pork barrels it's that they are sure to raise someone's blood pressure.
Of course it's not just the distribution of money that is insane, it's also how it's spent. Alaska is buying a fighter plane. Presumably they will use this to intercept any terrorist who tries to fly in and destroy the $200 million bridge. New Jersey's ex-governor Jim McGreevy apparently appointed a boyfriend to the homeland security agency. Now you may be thinking that since New Jersey's already a fetid wasteland there's not a whole lot to secure over there, but they've got some of the most dangerous chemical plants in the nation located within blowing up distance of 10,000,000 American people, most of whom are in or around New York City. Proving the old adage that when it comes to homeland security New York is like Paris Hilton after a night of partying, always getting screwed.
We clearly need more money spent to secure this country. Only %5 of incoming shipping containers are searched, meaning that if the terrorists sent 20 dirty bombs into the country aboard freighters only 1 of them would be found. That'll be a real comfort to the people who don't get killed by that particular bomb, but for every one of them there'll probably be 19 other folks who would be pissed if they weren't busy decomposing. Immigration is still a complete mess, something that could be dealt with in a variety of ways, including loosening controls (thus allowing Mexicans who want to come here and clean toilets rather than blow up buildings to register. This would free up the border patrol agents to look for people who are actually dangerous.) or building a fence or whatever. We need money for airport scanning devices and personnel with a greater than %50 efficiency in telling a bomb from a banana. I wouldn't even be against some racial profiling in this particular situation, or at least age profiling. There are white terrorists out there, no doubt, but granny ain't hiding a pound of C4 in her prodigious bosoms.
We're not going to get a sane homeland security policy though, not under this administration and not before another 9/11 happens (at least we know the hole is safe out there in Wyoming.) Right now we're too busy blowing up other countries and then repairing them a little before trying to return them to the locals "Better than new!" to bother defending ourselves. The next one is coming, folks, and it'll be pretty darn cataclysmic. Kim Jung Il is a bad hombre but he's not going to be the one to destroy America. It's gonna be the pork.
*That person would be the future American taxpayer, and MAN is he screwed.