Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week: $550,000 for the Glass Museum in Wash.

Tacoma, Wash., may be more than 3,000 miles away from Rhode Island’s east coast, but that didn’t stop Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.) from dipping into his constituents’ pockets and sending the money Tacoma’s way.

Of course, Chafee doesn’t deserve all of the blame. He had plenty of help from his insatiable colleagues, particularly Washington’s own Sen. Patty Murray (D.-Wash.), who slipped the generous $550,000 earmark into the 2006 Transportation Bill for Tacoma’s Museum of Glass.

According to its website, the Museum of Glass “provides a dynamic environment for visitors to experience and appreciate the medium of glass and the creative interaction between artists and art forms in contemporary art. Through exhibitions from around the world, engaging glass blowing demonstrations and thought-provoking programs, the Museum welcomes, inspires and educates a diverse global audience.”

For an admission price of $10 per adult, visitors of Tacoma’s museum can enjoy a number of creative exhibits. These include artist Karen LaMonte’s collection of six life-sized glass dresses, Warren Langley’s Breathe, and Buster Simpson’s Incidence, described as “a sculpture about the perception of a material, glass.” As a special treat, visitors can also “witness art coming alive as the Museum’s resident team of artists demonstrates the fascinating process of creating works of art from molten glass.”

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass may be a very nice museum, but Rhode Island taxpayers should not be paying for it. The scary thing is that pork-barrel spending isn’t getting any better. In fact, it’s getting worse. Wasteful spending started with a hundred pork projects twenty years ago, and now they’ve ballooned to over nine thousand. What will it be in five years, and ten years? America cannot afford to be reckless with its finances, and our hardworking taxpayers cannot afford representatives who don’t seem to care.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee voted in favor of spending tax dollars on Washington’s Museum of Glass (Senate Roll Call Vote #264) on Oct. 20, 2005.