Subject Areas


Does Congress really represent us?

It isn't our representatives; its the system

Federal grants just another form of earmarked pork

I recently read that a local State University had received a grant to assist the enrollment of Hispanic students. The university is an excellent school and we are lucky to have it in our community. But this grant - as with many grants - came with conditions that restrict its benefits to only certain social groups or political activities. 

This particular grant was provided by a commercial source that has every right to distribute its profits as it sees fit. Grants from the federal government, on the other hand, are paid for with taxes levied on our workers and come with attached strings that many workers would find objectionable. 

Organizations that take advantage of the "free government money" should not be faulted, because the funds will be spent regardless. But as we shall see, grant money is free only to the people who receive it; not for the taxpayers who unknowingly contribute it. 

Federal grants are a kind of reverse Robin Hood: They rob from Peter to award Paul for doing what Big Brother wants done. Congress uses taxes to create grant programs that satisfy the current political ideology. The federal bureaucracy expends part of the money maintaining itself, and makes decisions about who will be "granted" the funds that once belonged to the public. All grants involve a high degree of political selectivity, and the only outcomes funded are those desired by the Congress-directed bureaucracy. In many cases, only certain ethnic, language or cultural groups can qualify for awards. In all cases, the award decisions are made by faceless bureaucrats who have no responsibility to taxpayers. 

There probably are some grants that most of us would agree are worthwhile; but not many. Once established, are grant programs ever eliminated? I doubt it, but how would we ever know? To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the "Mayor's Institute on City Design," the National Endowment for the Humanities provides a "limited number of grants, ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, to showcase and celebrate the institute's goals."

There are 43 different federal agencies with grant programs, and 106 new grant programs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act alone. The current healthcare "reform" bill will create 118 new federal agencies to distribute funds to favored groups. There are 27 grants for cultural affairs; the Department Education has 31 programs; and the National Endowment for the Arts has 16 categories of art grants, some of which have paid for trash and filth. 

Many of these programs appear to be arbitrary or duplications. There are four Fair Housing Initiatives Program programs, four Indian housing programs, and an uncountable number of other federal housing programs. Recently, grants were given for the study of the relationships of alcohol on the sexual habits of Chinese prostitutes and South American gays. Other grants go to "community organizations" that include questionable groups like ACORN.

There are Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan, American Jazz Masters Fellowships for "contribution to the jazz art form in the African-American tradition," Doctoral Dissertation Research Grants to help "complete research and dissertations on housing or urban development issues" and Challenge Grants in United States History and Culture "so as to advance our understanding of how - since the nation's founding - these events have shaped and been shaped by American identity and culture." 

The current Race to the Top education program is a perfect example coercion by grant. With $4.3 billion in "competitive" grants for states that meet the nebulous goals of the program, does anyone think that there will be any competition other than for political favor? 

None of the federal grants are essential for the well being of the nation. They are simply another form of earmarks to benefit selected groups. They serve to enforce politically correct thinking, to assert control over public and private activities and to purchase political loyalty. The federal government should be forbidden to use grants to pick winners and losers among our citizens. 


by Rod Paramoure; Guest Columnists
Marietta Daily Journal, March 17, 2010