Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 3, 2005

Andrew Roth of the Club for Growth's blog has looked at the most recent U.S. highway appropriations bill and has found some 6371 pork-barrel spending projects inserted by individual U.S. Congressmen contained within it (roughly 12 such projects for each of 434 Representatives and 100 Senators, as only Arizona Representative Jeff Flake declined to participate in the political feeding frenzy.) What makes Andrew's number interesting is that he provides historical data that demonstrates the dramatic increase in the number of pork-barrel spending projects over time.

Political Calculations looked at the increase in the number of pork-barrel projects contained within legislation funding highways in the U.S. since the first such bill in 1956, and recognized that the growth rate in the number of these projects is exponential. Using the Andrew's data, Political Calculations created the following chart that shows the overall trend, and provides a formula that may be used for estimating the number of such projects in any given year since 1956, as well as into the future:

Highway Pork Barrel Spending Projects - Historical and Projected
Click for larger image.

Armed with the formula, all that we need is a tool to do the math. Political Calculations offers the following tool which may be used to estimate the number of pork-barrel projects that may be found in either past or future highway legislation produced by the U.S. Congress:

Year Data
Input Data Values
Calendar Year


Highway Bill Pork-Barrel Projects
Calculated Results Values
Estimated Number of Pork-Barrel Projects

Sadly, Political Calculations must note that its approximation of the number of pork-barrel projects that may be contained in either past, current and future highway bills represents a *very* low end estimate, as the number of pork-barrel projects has already grossly outstripped the growth rate predicted by the formula, as may be seen in the chart above. When you consider that the minimum cost of a pork-barrel project in the most recent bill is $200,000, you begin to get a small sense for what the impact of pork-barrel spending will be upon the typical U.S. taxpayer's pocketbook for the foreseeable future. It may go against conventional wisdom, but in this case, Congress could use a few hundred more Flakes!

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