Talk of the federal stimulus package highlights the difference between pork-barrel spending and bringing home the bacon.
Pork is Washington waste, other people's congressional delegations spending our tax money on things that from here seem perfectly useless.
Bringing home the bacon, however, is when our representatives secure funding for much-needed local projects. It is the difference between us and them.
Nearly a third of the $86.2 million the Department of the Interior has budgeted for Colorado will come to our part of the state. And it does look like it will be well spent.
The huge outpouring of funds that is the $787 billion stimulus package is intended to get money flowing through the economy and thereby jump-start a recovery from the current recession.
Whether it will work remains to be seen, but that is the idea.
Strictly as an economic stimulus, it probably makes little difference how the money is spent. But it only makes sense to get good value and to spend the funds on things of lasting worth.
There also is an urgency to getting the economy moving again that argues for focusing on projects that are ready to go now, or are "shovel-ready." And as it happens, there are a number of those in Southwest Colorado.
Mesa Verde National Park is getting $14.6 million. With that, it will install eight solar photovoltaic panels to power the park's headquarters.
It also will replace water lines serving Chapin Mesa and Morefield Village and Campground, as well as electric lines at the Navajo Loop of Morefield Campground. And, the Spruce Tree House trail will be upgraded to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Animas-La Plata Project gets another $12.1 million. That includes about $4 million to build the operations center in Durango and $720,000 for a fence around Lake Nighthorse.
Also in there is $7 million for the Navajo Nation pipeline the Bureau of Reclamation is building as part of A-LP.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is planning to spend $2.2 million on work-force training and repairs to roads and bridges. Colorado's only two Indian reservations are in Southwest Colorado.
The Bureau of Land Management will spend another $20.2 million. That is for projects statewide, but with all the BLM land around here, this area is bound to get its share.
And that is just the money flowing through the Interior Department. Colorado taxpayers also can expect to see an estimated $3 billion in federal tax breaks that came as part of the stimulus bill.
Money from the overall stimulus package should be coming to Colorado's school districts and state and local governments from other directions, as well.
It is estimated that could total $2.9 billion over the next two years.
Economists vary, mostly along political lines, as to whether all that stimulus spending will in fact end the recession. Some assessments consider it all a waste that will serve only to burden future generations. Others have said it could be too little and/or too late.
But the list of projects being funded around here clearly does not deserve to be dismissed as pork. Mesa Verde, reservation roads and bridges, schools and tax breaks, the finishing touches to A-LP - none of this lends itself to talk-show mockery.
All that pork must be in some other state.