All Hail Our Dung Beetle Overlords

 

Dung Beetle or Scarab Beetle (Scarabaeidae) rolling dung ball. (Michael Potter11/Shutterstock)

Watching Congress at work, it seems time to drop the bald eagle and start using the dung beetle as the national symbol.   In the now-distant past, Congress was structured to take specific votes on bills about specific issues.  There was even a budget process, an appropriations process, and several committees of original jurisdiction.  When the process started to break down, spending was less about specific measures for specific purposes with particular votes and instead became continuing resolutions and omnibus bills.

In 2012, Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) Chairman of the Budget Committee actually had the audacity to begin budget hearings in accordance with the established rules.  Majority Leader Harry Reed (Pure Evil) ordered the process shut down.  His party had a narrow majority in the Senate but the GOP had a majority in the House.  Therefore it was better to shut down the process to force a continuing resolution rather than have to revisit any existing authorizations or take difficult votes.

Any reduction in federal spending would require specific looks at specific funding choices but if one can make all spending hostage to the excremental elements, that reduction never happens.  The dung beetle protects ongoing massive deficit spending.

The dung beetle approach was in full effect in the 2022 Chips and Science Act which was ostensibly about encouraging more domestic computer chip manufacturing (instead of relying almost entirely on Taiwan) but also tossed out funding and stated goals for anything that might fall under the heading of science.

It looks pretty straightforward in the summary:

But then you see the astonishing, seemingly arbitrary dollar amounts in each subsection, the obligatory DEI goals and express pork items such as multiple regional centers for members who are senior or whose vote needed to be purchased.  In the 40-page summary, there is a laundry list of sciency goals ranging from climate to the search for alien life with huge pots of research money to be handed out.

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money. -Attributed to Senate Minority Leader Ev Dirksen (“Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it.”)

If instead, for example, there were a separate, serious bill on nuclear energy with all the requisite groundwork and hearings, would it pass or be killed by ideologues?  Does the federal government really need an Office of Science to instantly create infighting among all branches of science for funding?  Is “Science” really such a generic thing that one bill should do it?

And the absurd but predictable result of the dung beetle’s handiwork in the CHIPS Act is that the supposed main purpose of the bill (to foster more domestic manufacturing, hiring, training, and research in semiconductors) has been thwarted by the fact that no manufacturer can function under a DEI mandate to hire incompetent workers who qualify solely on the basis of their victim status. See, DEI Killed the CHIPS Act

But in the dung beetle universe, that is how it is supposed to work, all public and private interests rolled into one big ball within which anything constructive, useful, or necessary is held hostage or obviated altogether by the preferences of ideologues and administrative state power brokers.  And no member of Congress ever has to study difficult issues and cast meaningful, possibly controversial votes and tough choices.  Just vote yea on the ball as it rolls by.

The ancient Egyptians admired and ascribed spiritual significance to the dung beetle whose daily task was thought to be analogous to the task of moving the sun across the sky. (I wonder how you say “I Believe in Science” in hieroglyphics.) But even the superstitious Egyptians were never dumb enough to base their fiscal management on the example of the dung beetle.

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  1. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #1
  2. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    This is an insult to dung beetles.

    • #2
  3. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    This is an insult to dung beetles.

    I know/knew a dung beetle researcher who then got tired of them, took a job elsewhere, and made a name for himself doing wacky stuff.

    • #3
  4. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me.  It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    My religion did the same with social media.

    • #5
  6. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    I was thinking that, too.  Maybe the perfection of symmetry of the collected dung and the moral clarity of the collector was what entranced them.

    • #6
  7. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    I was thinking that, too. Maybe the perfection of symmetry of the collected dung and the moral clarity of the collector was what entranced them.

    Except that the dung beetle does make others eat the sh*t it imposes on them.

    • #7
  8. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    I was thinking that, too. Maybe the perfection of symmetry of the collected dung and the moral clarity of the collector was what entranced them.

    Except that the dung beetle does make others eat the sh*t it imposes on them.

    I suppose the courtesy is that when you dine at Dung Beetle’s you eat what’s rolled before you.  I don’t know who plays Oliver Twist in this.

    • #8
  9. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    I was thinking that, too. Maybe the perfection of symmetry of the collected dung and the moral clarity of the collector was what entranced them.

    Except that the dung beetle does make others eat the sh*t it imposes on them.

    I suppose the courtesy is that when you dine at Dung Beetle’s you eat what’s rolled before you. I don’t know who plays Oliver Twist in this.

    Insects dining reminds me of my favorite Rodney Dangerfield joke: “My wife, let me tell you. She’s such a bad cook … the flies chipped in to fix the hole in the kitchen screen door.”

    • #9
  10. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    I was thinking that, too. Maybe the perfection of symmetry of the collected dung and the moral clarity of the collector was what entranced them.

    Except that the dung beetle does make others eat the sh*t it imposes on them.

    I suppose the courtesy is that when you dine at Dung Beetle’s you eat what’s rolled before you. I don’t know who plays Oliver Twist in this.

    Insects dining reminds me of my favorite Rodney Dangerfield joke: “My wife, let me tell you. She’s such a bad cook … the flies chipped in to fix the hole in the kitchen screen door.”

    The dung beetle gets home after a hard day’s work, sits down to dinner and says to his wife, “What! This crap again?”

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The quality control and near-perfect spheroid shape impresses me. It is also interesting that Egyptians could look at a grubby bug that eats and plays with sh*t and imagine an idealized form, integral to their religion.

    I was thinking that, too. Maybe the perfection of symmetry of the collected dung and the moral clarity of the collector was what entranced them.

    Except that the dung beetle does make others eat the sh*t it imposes on them.

    I suppose the courtesy is that when you dine at Dung Beetle’s you eat what’s rolled before you. I don’t know who plays Oliver Twist in this.

    Insects dining reminds me of my favorite Rodney Dangerfield joke: “My wife, let me tell you. She’s such a bad cook … the flies chipped in to fix the hole in the kitchen screen door.”

    The dung beetle gets home after a hard day’s work, sits down to dinner and says to his wife, “What! This crap again?”

    And, from the “spicier” side of B. Kliban:

     

    • #11
  12. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    I’d rather be governed by 2,000 dung beetles than the entire faculty of Harvard.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):

    I’d rather be governed by 2,000 dung beetles than the entire faculty of Harvard.

    Oh, like anyone could tell the difference.

    • #13
  14. Bill Berg Coolidge
    Bill Berg
    @Bill Berg

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Didn’t know Lewis Black made an appearance on Big Bang. My wife loved that show!

    I love Lewis Black and being from Wisconsin I love this … though I think he underplays the drinking.

    Lewis Black | Drinking in Wisconsin (youtube.com)

    • #14
  15. Macho Grande' Coolidge
    Macho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    The way the funding gets authorized is the opposite of what standard project management principles rely upon.  They’ve literally just thrown money at something, with no definition of the outcomes desired (other than bland, non-scientific or measurable outcomes), specifics about how to get there (meaning what/who/when/where and most specifically how), or containing any sort of accountability or stewardship on the capital they’re giving away to spend.

    I used to work in a fab for IBM in Vermont, decades ago.  The fab was aging out, wafers were getting bigger (more chips per wafer always being the goal), shrinks were getting smaller (chips per wafer), so new fabs were needed.  The plan was to build a new fab right next to the existing fab, because all the people, infrastructure, and knowledge was right there.  The applications were filed, zoning in the town where it was to be sited, etc.

    The new fab was built in mid-state New York.

    Why?

    Because Vermont’s regulatory burden was enormously high, the state would not guarantee energy cost stability or supply (fabs use a lot of electricity), and getting approvals just to build the new fab in a location next to an existing fab, with the requisite environmental impact studies and open-ended appeal process, made the start date of the build impossible to determine.

    I say all this because just stating on a piece of congressional paper that X should happen is another shining example of the failures of our government.  Unless the outcome we’re looking for is a talking point for someone seeking re-election.

    If that’s the case, then the gov’t is working just fine.

    • #15
  16. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Macho Grande’ (View Comment):

    The way the funding gets authorized is the opposite of what standard project management principles rely upon. They’ve literally just thrown money at something, with no definition of the outcomes desired (other than bland, non-scientific or measurable outcomes), specifics about how to get there (meaning what/who/when/where and most specifically how), or containing any sort of accountability or stewardship on the capital they’re giving away to spend.

     

    Congressional appropriations is where the Republican want to spend 200 billion dollars, the Democrats want to spend 300 billion dollars, so they get together and compromise by spending 400 billion dollars.

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Macho Grande’ (View Comment):

    The way the funding gets authorized is the opposite of what standard project management principles rely upon. They’ve literally just thrown money at something, with no definition of the outcomes desired (other than bland, non-scientific or measurable outcomes), specifics about how to get there (meaning what/who/when/where and most specifically how), or containing any sort of accountability or stewardship on the capital they’re giving away to spend.

     

    Congressional appropriations is where the Republican want to spend 200 billion dollars, the Democrats want to spend 300 billion dollars, so they get together and compromise by spending 400 billion dollars.

    Because only 100 Billion of the spending overlapped in the first place.

    • #17
  18. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Macho Grande’ (View Comment):

    The way the funding gets authorized is the opposite of what standard project management principles rely upon. They’ve literally just thrown money at something, with no definition of the outcomes desired (other than bland, non-scientific or measurable outcomes), specifics about how to get there (meaning what/who/when/where and most specifically how), or containing any sort of accountability or stewardship on the capital they’re giving away to spend.

     

    Congressional appropriations is where the Republican want to spend 200 billion dollars, the Democrats want to spend 300 billion dollars, so they get together and compromise by spending 400 billion dollars.

    Because only 100 Billion of the spending overlapped in the first place.

    It will have to go back to Conference.  There, the controversial $400 billion will be cut back to $200 billion supplemented by an additional $300 billion in block grants and agricultural subsidies. An additional $250 billion will be allocated in the next three fiscal years to cover expected program expansion.  The $50 billion that had been previously left out of the Senate bill and the $45 billion dropped from the House version for miscellaneous earmarked projects will need to come back into the final conference draft in order to garner enough votes for final passage.  So, the final $845 billion commitment will be declared a savings of $200 billion.

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Macho Grande’ (View Comment):

    The way the funding gets authorized is the opposite of what standard project management principles rely upon. They’ve literally just thrown money at something, with no definition of the outcomes desired (other than bland, non-scientific or measurable outcomes), specifics about how to get there (meaning what/who/when/where and most specifically how), or containing any sort of accountability or stewardship on the capital they’re giving away to spend.

     

    Congressional appropriations is where the Republican want to spend 200 billion dollars, the Democrats want to spend 300 billion dollars, so they get together and compromise by spending 400 billion dollars.

    Because only 100 Billion of the spending overlapped in the first place.

    It will have to go back to Conference. There, the controversial $400 billion will be cut back to $200 billion supplemented by an additional $300 billion in block grants and agricultural subsidies. An additional $250 billion will be allocated in the next three fiscal years to cover expected program expansion. The $50 billion that had been previously left out of the Senate bill and the $45 billion dropped from the House version for miscellaneous earmarked projects will need to come back into the final conference draft in order to garner enough votes for final passage. So, the final $845 billion commitment will be declared a savings of $200 billion.

    Yes, that’s another variation.  Along with, when they want to increase by 30% but end up increasing by “only” 20%, they call that a “cut.”

    • #19
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