Defense Earmarks--An Anecdote:

A while back, I met someone at a party, an engineer, who told me he worked for a defense contractor that thrives on earmarks. As he described it, so far none of the products he'd worked on was actually being used, and many of them didn't even work. He told me that two things happen after an earmarked project gets underway: either no one pays attention, in which case the company never bothers to finish a working prototype, but gets paid anyway once the paperwork gets filled out, or someone actually monitors the project, in which case a (barely) working, but useless, prototype is built that sits on a shelf somewhere because the Pentagon didn't want it to begin with. Not suprisingly, this engineer wasn't enjoying his job and was actively seeking employment elsewhere.

The big caveat is that this was just "cocktail party" conversation, I can't vouch for the accuracy of the anecdote, and I don't even remember the guy's name, or exactly where I met him. But as criticism earmarks continues to resonate, I can't help thinking about the possibility that we're spending who-knows-how-much money a year on defense earmarks for completely useless products, and that whole companies are thriving on this basis.