Nearly every bill that gets voted on in Congress has ear-marks. These are little amendments that are attached to bills for pet projects back in the congressman’s home district. Since they may be attached to major bills, oftentimes they go unnoticed until the entire bill is published. Ear marks by themselves aren’t really bad things and sometimes they address studies or constructions or whatever that are needed. Of course when a lay person who has no context for the earmark sees these things, then it’s open season for humor and stuff.
Some of the earmarks of 2009 really needed explanation or subtitles at least. But to make it to primetime it has to sound really silly. For example a half a million dollar earmark for the Sparta Teapot Museum, or something like “fruit fly research” which for the uninformed sounds like a waste of money. Fruit flies, by the way laid the foundation for genetic research. But that would require reading up on the subject. (sounds like I am defending an ear mark I wrote) But to really sound silly you have to add the words “something called…” and then add the ear mark. That phrase brings out the tea baggers and really gets under their skin. I don’t know why pols have to attach these things, worthy or unworthy, to bills but I guess that is how the jobs is done.
But I digress… One ear mark jumped out at me from 2009 and that is the request for $1.8 million in swine odor and manure management research in Ames Iowa (I wonder why are these earmarks so predominately in the mid-west or south?) Well this sounds very silly doesn’t it so I did some research on the earmark and found the Scientific American website that helped explain it. You can indulge yourself for a moment and take a gander, then decide. I found it enlightening.