By The Numbers
By Peronet Despeignes

(FORTUNE Magazine) – With Congress committing at least $62 billion to cover the damage from Hurricane Katrina--and continuing to fund the war in Iraq--the pressure to spend responsibly has rarely been greater. But the latest analysis by watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste shows that the trend is headed toward the opposite extreme. Spending on "pork"--special projects lawmakers push for their home districts--has been rising steadily over the past decade and is at an all-time high, according to CAGW. One man's pork, of course, is another's bare necessity. Still, the nonprofit identifies more than $50 billion in outlays in the past two years alone for questionable projects, ranging from $223 million for a bridge connecting Ketchikan, Alaska (pop. 8,900), to Gravina Island (pop. 50) to $25,000 for the study of mariachi music in Nevada. Maybe the budget strain of Katrina will finally cause taxpayers to squeal about it. -- Peronet Despeignes