Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $3 Million for Discovery Center in Hawaii

Ranking number three for pork barrel dollars received hasn’t shamed Hawaii’s Congressional members one bit. On the contrary, Senator Daniel Inouye (D.-Hawaii) appears to be bursting at the seams with pride when it comes to touting his talent for bringing home the bacon. In a November 2005 press release, he boasted about the $3 million he secured for the Mauna Kea Discovery Center in Hilo, Hawaii from the 2006 Science, State, Justice, and Commerce (SSJC) Appropriations Act (H.R. 2862). It is no coincidence that Senator Inouye is a member of the Senate SSJC Appropriations Subcommittee.

According to Senator Inouye’s press release, the $3 million in federal funds will help to establish the Mauna Kea Discovery Center “that will educate visitors about the seafaring explorations that were done by Native Hawaiians in the past and the explorations of the skies done now by astronomers atop Mauna Kea.”

The Mauna Kea Discovery Center is an interpretive center that seeks to educate its visitors “about the world’s finest and largest collection of operational astronomical observatories whose telescopes are located atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island.” It does this through a number of interactive exhibits, planetarium shows, special shows, and special events that “allow visitors to immerse themselves in Hawaii’s native culture through bicultural exhibits bridging sea voyage navigation by Hawaiians and the astronomy studies of modern astronomers.”

The brazenness with which Congressmen siphon American taxpayers in order to feed their own political careers is as astounding as it is detrimental. This country simply cannot afford to be a cash register for every Congressional whim and desire.

What we need down in Washington are not more special interest puppets—we have enough of those to form our own puppet theatre—but leaders who have the courage and sense of mind to stand up to the special interests and put the best interests of the American taxpayers ahead of their personal self-interests.

Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Discovery Center (Senate Roll Call Vote #329) on November 16, 2005.