Sunday, March 01, 2009

There’s Nothing Wrong With Pork

Many rail against ‘pork’ and ‘earmarks’ in government spending, but there’s just nothing wrong with either one. They say pork is wasteful spending and earmarks hide spending. Not true. The problem is in the definitions.

‘Pork’ is nothing more than Federal spending on local projects, or more to the point, spending on projects that have a location. There aren’t many projects that don’t have a location. All spending on bridges and roads, military bases, hospitals, etc. have a location. Even spending for the IRS has a location; they’ve got to put their personnel in an office, after all.

An ‘earmark’ is a directive, instructing a state how to spend congressionally appropriated money. Congress can’t get a bridge repaired unless it tells a state to use money for the project.

What is wrong with pork is when congressmen use undue influence or cave to lobbyist pressure in allocating money for projects. Complaints about earmarks surfaced when congressmen began inserting earmarks into comprehensive spending bills at the last moment, hiding the spending until it’s too late.

Even lobbyists are valuable and necessary when kept in their place. No congressman can actually be an expert on every issue before Congress. Lobbyists inform and educate. How could any person, on his own, understand the complexity of providing our world with energy while protecting it from energy? The problem is when congressmen stop listening to both sides of an issue. But when excessive campaign contributions push a congressman to take direction from a lobbyist or even allow the lobbyist to write legislation, lobbying must be curbed.

Now let’s stop flying off the handle over misused terms. Pork is necessary; earmarks are necessary; and even lobbyists are necessary. We should call congressmen on their misuse of legislative tools, not their necessary use.

Posted on CNN today: Earmarks: Myth and reality

Rational discussion of earmarks from President Obama: Obama calls for overhaul of earmarks


Daniel (Srebrenica Genocide Editor) said...

Spending on local projects should be positive. You're correct - nothing wrong with it.

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Joan Stepsen
Computer geek