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« Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 846 -- Only Four Of Twelve Federal Reserve Districts Have Had Job Growth Since January 2001. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 848 -- Transportation. »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 847 -- Our Broken Federal Fund Dispersal System.

Pork, Stimulus, Recession-

Here's yet another good example of what I don't like about the establishment press.

The Houston Chronicle somehow manages to get it wrong even when they're on the brink of getting it right:

Small states earning big federal dollars: Seniority for senators can mean money disparity per resident

WASHINGTON — North Dakota received about $127 million in federal money in 2010 for projects to benefit its population of nearly 650,000.

Oklahoma, a state with nearly six times as many residents, received only $88 million. The difference is striking, and it's because North Dakota has something Oklahoma does not: a senator who is a powerful and senior committee chairman.

Of the eight senators who represent the nation's four largest states — Texas, California, New York and Florida - only one, California Democrat Barbara Boxer, holds a chairmanship of a standing committee with substantive legislative authority.

Great. This is an interesting story that illustrates how broken our system is, but here's what irks me. On the sidebar of the story, there is this graphic:


This is really just a failure on so many levels. Where is the link to the source? Citizens Against Government Waste puts out a lot of great reports, so this vague citation from the Chronicle is not helpful at all. Why only list a few states? This "I have the information, and I choose which parts to tell you" model of reporting is old style journalism, and it is dying out for a reason.

More importantly, in the entire story, never does the word "earmark" appear, and the word "pork" only appears once, right at the end, in a quote.

This entire story is based on pork barrel spending, not total spending. Pork is defined pretty specifically, too. Pork has to meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
• Not specifically authorized;
• Not competitively awarded;
• Not requested by the President;
• Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the
previous year’s funding;
• Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
• Serves only a local or special interest.

This doesn't sound like the spending referenced in the article. The article calls North Dakota's pork haul, simply, "projects to benefit its population."

Yeah. There's a fundamental difference there.

Citizens Against Government Waste's Pig Book details the information referenced by the Houston Chronicle:


What is so hard about that?

The future of journalism is not this antiquated top-down offering of patchy bits of information. The future of journalism is data. For example, the most viewed page on the online-only Texas Tribune website is a data app detailing what public employees earn.

Not-so-incidentally, looking at stimulus spending, certain states are also created more equal than others:


So, Texas, a donor state, ranks 41st in pork received, next-to-last in stimulus received, and yet we're dominating it in America's "Great Recession."

This speaks volumes about the effectiveness of government spending.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Unbalanced Recession.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 August 2010 10:06 AM