A $105 Million Here, a $105 Billion There, …

“… And pretty soon it adds up to real money!”

The original quotation, uttered in wry commentary at his fellow Senators’ earmarking habits, was “A billion here, a billion there!  And pretty soon it adds up to real money!” –  Attributed to many US Senators, including Estes Kafauver.  In the 1950s when the total federal budget was under a hundred billion, a billion was a lot of money.

*”New $105M Va. prison remains empty” is the Jan 2011 headline about a Virginia state prison.
http://hamptonroads.com/2011/01/new-105m-va-prison-remains-empty

But four months after the Grayson County prison was completed at a cost of $105 million, it sits empty — the consequence of a declining number of inmates statewide, and a reduction in state dollars to lock them up.

Having a new prison without prisoners is a striking turnabout for Virginia. The state’s inmate population of about 38,000 has nearly doubled since 1994, when the General Assembly voted to abolish parole and to embark on a prison-building boom.

In the past two fiscal years, however, the number of inmates has declined for the first time in recent history, dropping by 2.8 percent.

* “What if they built a school and nobody got to go?”

May 31, 2011. When it’s completed this fall, Riverside’s $105-million Hillcrest High will be a high-tech academic hub. But thanks to state budget cuts, it will be missing its justification for existence: students.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-empty-school-20110531,0,1584339.story

*The U.S. military is on track to spend $113 billion on its operations in Afghanistan this fiscal year, and it is seeking $107 billion for the next. May 30, 2011.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cost-of-war-in-afghanistan-will-be-major-factor-in-troop-reduction-talks/2011/05/27/AGR8z2EH_story.html

[If we trim that to $105 billion, the Aghan war financial cost will be equivalent to budgeting one thousand prisons or high schools built per year …]

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