Like an old man shouting at the clouds, Senator McCain is still railing against earmarks in spending bills. No one likes ‘pork,’ unless it’s specifically meant for their district or home state. I’d be interested to know what the most egregious earmarks are that McCain has introduced over the years.
So, McCain recently put up his list of the ‘worst earmarks’ in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill, and identified the biggest offender as being:
#1. $75,000 for the “Totally Teen Zone” in Albany, GA
Yeah, that sounds pretty bad…Until you start actually digging into it. Here’s what one of Albany, GA’s news stations had to say about the program:
A program to give Albany teenagers something positive to do to keep them off the streets is getting federal stimulus money. Last year, the Teen Zone provided activities for more than a thousand students during 16 events..."There's been research and it's been shown that in periods after school and at night when kids don't have anything to do is when crime rates increase and kids join gangs and do stuff that's really not productive and this program is available for them," said Albany Parks and Recreation Director Suzanne Davis.
If you go look into it, you’ll find that the average salary for a police officer in the United States is about $49,000 per year. Since police officers have medical coverage, pensions, require specialized training, and have tons of gear, let’s just assume that the real cost to a city per police officer is about $100,000 per year.
For $75,000, Albany, GA could have spent their money on 75% of a single police officer, or invested in the (poorly named) Totally Teen Zone. If you’re willing to spend five minutes on “The Google,” you can even find out that Albany, GA has 192 police officers (PDF), which has declined from 225 ten years ago due to budgetary issues. To put this into proper perspective, Albany has 2.5 officers per 1000 residents compared to ratios of 3.0:1000 and 3.2:1000 for similar Georgia communities.
What’s going to be more effective at preventing crime and gang violence in a community where 30% of the citizens are below the poverty line? Keeping 1000 kids off the street or increasing the size of the police force by less than one-half-of-one percent? John McCain should be ashamed.