I am taking full credit. “For what?”, you may or may not ask. Let me fill you in. Yesterday I ranted on the fluffiness of H. Res. 45, the resolution that declared (and didn’t do much else) that March is now National Criminal Justice Month. Today President Obama and Attorney General Holder have heeded my screeching e-complaint and decided to do something. And that something is something that all Americans love: they’re giving away money! The unfortunate catch is that unless you’ve got some sort of shiny badge or drive around with flashing lights on top of your car, you’re not seeing a dime. I’m pretty sure Dog the Bounty Hunter doesn’t get any even though he has a badge. AND some super sweet hair.
The program is titled “JAG”; but before you start getting all frothy thinking about Catherine Bell, its full title is the “Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant”. It drops a $2 billy bomb onto the states and municipalities to maintain and retool (if needed) their criminal justice entities. Here is the cool graphic that www.recovery.gov stapled onto their web page. I’m just kidding; they didn’t staple it on there. It’s glued.
In addition to being one of the most rudimentary math-themed Powerpoint slides ever, the government whizkids decided to make the pie chart super wide. So when I resized it to fit this blog, the font came out all jacked up. Needless to say, I’m not fired up enough about it to correct the jaggies in photoshop. Or to make my own super-sweet Pacman-Eating-Blue-Pizza. The original post can be found here.
The truly interesting angle on the announcement and promised transparency is this: we actually see how the money gets divided up! By following the link at the bottom of the page, you get taken to the DoJ page with a nice clickable map of the United States (plus all our extra little bits. Like the Mariana Islands. Which I totally knew we owned. No I didn’t.). If, like Britney Spears and Sarah Palin, you suffer from an acute case of “Don’t-know-where-sh*t-is-on-a-map-itis” or, like me, “Don’t-remember-the-stupid-state-abbreviations-to-save-my-life-enza”, there are text links at the bottom. As an aside, if you click on Guam on the map, it goes nowhere. Sort of like if you were on a plane going to Guam. Perfect! Thank you, Department of Justice!
While musing over this new cyber paper trail, it came to me that this is only the tip of the proverbial accountability iceberg. The scenario is akin to the President driving around (in a very large armored car) to each state capital and dropping off a huge bag of cash. And as you have learned from the illuminating graphic, the state keeps 60% and doles out the other 40% to the counties. It is up to us to make sure our local and state politicians are making the most effective use of our cash. And by “effective use” I don’t mean this. As of this post, only 17 states had set up recovery websites. Unsurprisingly, California, Texas and Florida have yet to get theirs up and running yet…
The questions that arise are these: Why do we own the Mariana Islands and why are we giving them $1.6 million? Why does Guam get $5 millie and Hawaii only $10.5 mildreds? The population density and crime frequency is vastly different between the two. Vaster than 550 billion pennies. I’ve watched Dog: Hawaii is dangerous. But I guess it’s less dangerous than being strategically located out in the middle of nowhere. There could be armies of sharks with frickin’ laser beams. Or at least lots of ill-tempered mutant sea bass. Why did the government disperse this information in Excel spreadsheets? Anybody heard of a PDF? I guess after the last adminstration and its high Luddite quotient, they didn’t want to modernize too quickly. Don’t they realize that sending out all these alterable spreadsheets is a recipe for disaster? I mean, look what I did in about 3 seconds of work:
And just to round out this financial nonsensery, I have a strangely quasi-appropriate quote from the bio-pic “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”:
Dr. Evil: Gentlemen, I have a plan. It’s called blackmail. The Royal Family of Britain are the wealthiest landowners in the world. Either the Royal Family pays us an exorbitant amount of money, or we make it seen that Prince Charles has had an affair outside of marriage and therefore would have to divorce!
Number Two: Prince Charles *did* have an affair. He admitted it, and they are now divorced.
Dr. Evil: Right, people you have to tell me these things, okay? I’ve been frozen for thirty years, okay? Throw me a frickin’ bone here! I’m the boss! Need the info.
Dr. Evil: Okay no problem. Here’s my second plan. Back in the 60’s, I had a weather changing machine that was, in essence, a sophisticated heat beam which we called a “laser.” Using these “lasers,” we punch a hole in the protective layer around the Earth, which we scientists call the “Ozone Layer.” Slowly but surely, ultraviolet rays would pour in, increasing the risk of skin cancer. That is unless the world pays us a hefty ransom.
Number Two: [pause] That also already has happened.
Dr. Evil: Shit. Oh hell, let’s just do what we always do. Hijack some nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage. Yeah? Good! Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a breakaway Russian Republic called Kreplachistan will be transferring a nuclear warhead to the United Nations in a few days. Here’s the plan. We get the warhead and we hold the world ransom for… ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
Number Two: Don’t you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn’t exactly a lot of money these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!
Dr. Evil: Really? That’s a lot of money.
Dr. Evil: Okay then, we hold the world ransom for…
Dr. Evil: One… Hundred… BILLION DOLLARS
To me it seems like the perfect template for a Madlibs episode. Anybody care to alter the facts? Make it happen.