Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tennessee Media FAIL - Bogus Claims in "Pork" Report

It is most likely that Tennesseans will read or hear a report today from their newspapers and TV stations which will claim hundreds of millions of tax dollars being wasted by Tennessee government, but is any of it true or are local news folks just pushing a press release without checking any of the claims it presents? (Hint: the answer is: yes.)

The self-proclaimed "non-partisan think tank", the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, tends to be mostly partisan, and is rather low on the thinking scale too. Still today they are pushing (and news outlets are reprinting) a dubious report called "pork report" which it really is not. Pork-barrel spending is a phrase coined to describe government spending which aims to benefit the residents of specific districts, which it is hoped will encourage re-election.

But no such resident benefit really applies to the TCPR claims. They offer instead what they call government waste - but is it?

One claim in the report is a "waste" of tax funds ($14.5 million) for the Tennessee Solar Institute which will spend the funds on "innovative project grants". Businesses get limited assistance to pay for solar power installations, which saves them money on the costs of powering their business. That will lead to less demand on power companies, and also spurs the spread of solar power - from which Tennessee is particularly primed to receive enormous benefit. How enormous? Since the Hemlock company is investing about $2 billion dollars in Clarksville, TN to build panel components, that's pretty large - it means hundreds of jobs, establishes Tennessee in the alternative energy market, and can you name another single company investing anywhere near $2 billion dollars in the state's manufacturing arena?

Another item berated in the "report" are funds for development of switchgrass into bio-fuel, and the report says: "The government should not be in the business of subsidizing flailing industries like switchgrass-to-ethanol with taxpayers’ money."

Ah yes, save those tax funds for subsidizing .... maybe oil companies?

Much of this "report" rather curiously hammers away at alternative energy development.

Another item cited was for disbursement of Federal funds for a weatherization program for homes for low income residents. The state got $99 million and the "report" cites one contractor who received $3,600 for work which the contractor did not actually do. Was that "wasteful" spending or a contractor engaging in fraud? Are they facing punishment for that? The "report" does not say.

News outlets in Tennessee will spread a poorly written attack on government, the news outlets won't really investigate any of the claims in the report, and viewers will see government as villain.

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