Inappropriations: Your Tax Dollars at Rest

You’re familiar with federal budget earmarks, but have you heard of “reverse earmarks”? Below, some of the items your tax dollars aren’t allowed to pay for this year.

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Last December, Congress got around to finishing the federal budget. In addition to the usual raft of earmarks, tucked into the final 1,400-plus-page spending bill were scores of blind items that specify where its $555 billion can’t go. The reverse earmarks ranged from the aggressively anti-pork (targeting the cdc‘s rec room) to the symbolic (cutting funding for torture) to the downright weird (attempting to block anyone from claiming Montana’s unofficial state motto, inserted by Big Sky Senator Max Baucus). Here are some of the things your tax dollars aren’t supposed to pay for in 2008:

Currency Conversion: “None of the funds appropriated in this Act…may be used to redesign the $1 Federal Reserve note.”

Little Green Men: “…any research, development, or demonstration activities related exclusively to the human exploration of Mars.”

Motto Theft: “…to register, issue, transfer, or enforce any trademark of the phrase ‘Last Best Place.'”

epa Pseudoscience: “…to disseminate scientific information that is deliberately false or misleading.”

Prison Flicks: “…to purchase cable television services, to rent or purchase videocassettes, videocassette recorders, or other audiovisual or electronic equipment used primarily for recreational purposes [in federal prisons].”

People Patents: “…to issue patents on claims directed to or encompassing a human organism.”

Taking the Gloves Off: “…to support or justify the use of torture by any official or contract employee of the United States Government.”

Idle Interns: “…to eliminate guided tours of the United States Capitol which are led by employees and interns of offices of Members of Congress and other offices of the House of Representatives and Senate.”

Giant Junkets: “…to send or otherwise pay for the attendance of more than 50 employees from a Federal department or agency at any single conference occurring outside the United States.”

High Times: “…any activity that promotes the legalization of any drug or other substance included in schedule I of the schedules of controlled substances.”

Chinese Chicken: “…allowing poultry products to be imported into the United States from the People’s Republic of China.”

Ron Paul’s Pet Peeve: “…to make any assessed contribution or voluntary payment of the United States to the United Nations if the United Nations implements or imposes any taxation on any United States persons.”

The Next Armstrong Williams: “…to produce any prepackaged news story intended for broadcast or distribution in the United States [unless there’s a disclaimer].”

An Outbreak of Relaxation: “…to provide additional rotating pastel lights, zero-gravity chairs, or dry-heat saunas for [the Centers for Disease Control] fitness center.”

Old Glory Condom

And in case you were wondering where the money must go, the budget requires all federal condom funds to be used “only for the procurement of condoms manufactured in the United States.”

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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