03 January 2010


I went to a politician's website about Sen. Chris Dodd and saw that it provided information about "pork" spending by the rival politician (Sen. Dodd) against whom the first politician is running in the next senatorial election. Little relevance there. I notice that when a politician wants to criticize an opponent's spending record they point out the opponent's vote for a bill that contains pork spending in ANOTHER State, in this case a farmers' market in Kentucky (sounds good to me!), with no mention of spending IN the State of the two politicians concerned. There's a reason for that: pork spending is popular within the home State. Seems it is always the OTHER Congressperson's spending that is excessive.

So, I went to the valuable Citizen's Against Government Waste (CAGW) link and navigated to my U.S. Representative's (Rep. Gene Taylor, Mississippi 4th District) "pork" spending record. (I suggest each of you do the same for your Congressional delegation--it is informative; you might want to vote your delegation out of office [or keep them]!). Now I see better why Rep. Taylor has been reelected many times: he brings spending into my District that people of my District must see as beneficial. Out of about two dozen earmarks were funds for the following: a meth-enforcement program, improvements to the regional airport, improvements to one of the big hospitals, a juvenile justice program to provide court teams to abused infants and toddlers, University of Southern Mississippi Dept. of Education (one of my almas mater) professional development, Hurricane Katrina-related watershed restoration, an Army Corps of Engineers' project, a community center women's construction training project, three U.S. Navy and a U.S. Marine Corps project, and one I did not understand from its title. That's it. Sounds good to me. I might vote for Rep. Taylor again, along with the usual 65+% of the voters in the District.

If I taught U.S. government, perhaps I would be more cognizant in these matters, but it seems to me that a major purpose of the earmarking (pork) system is that Congress could not possibly find the time to hold hearings on the thousands of projects that a country SO LARGE as the U.S. requires. Can you imagine it? Nothing would get done. So, the system works by relying on individual representatives. They, after all, are closest to the ground and know the needs of their Districts. The system is cumbersome, sure. Waste? Absolutely, it goes with the territory. Do we not as individuals waste much? The bigger the entity, the more waste there is. I really do not see any way around this, although I'm sure smarter heads are thinking about it. But, for those who holler about "pork" (the derogatory term), as if it is all bad, I do not understand.

If the thunder is more about SIZE of government, I say there has not been a presidential administration--particularly I point out Reagan's and Bush II's--who have made ANY sincere attempt to reduce the overall size of government. Both Reagan and Bush II mightily increased the size of government, with much rhetoric to the contrary, but no real attempt. (Reagan's record is a study in Conservative rhetoric with little to show for it in terms of Conservatism.) The hue and cry against "pork" (and size of government) then, I believe, is another of those issues that politicians latch onto to draw attention to themselves. Behind the thunder, though, as far as I know, is nothing of substance, unless there is wholesale change of the funding system. And, systemic change, we should all know by now, in ANY area of government, is unlikely. Otherwise, it is Ayn Randian Lala-Land, I believe, to pretend there is some Atlas Shrugged, Conservative utopia of (extremely) limited government that we will ever reach. (And, I recognize, neither is there some socialist, or any other, utopia that we can actually construct.) Alas, we shall have to muddle through with something close to what we have.

However, I would like to become more educated about this topic and will ask some of my teacher buddies who teach U.S. government (they are all Conservative, by the way) and see what they say. I am open on the topic to entertain a change of mind.

Still do not understand references to "Obama's earmarks," except they must refer to when he was in the Illinois State House or when he was Senator from Illinois. If this is the case, are you qualified to judge the efficacy of each project funded in Illinois? We have a system--representative government--in which the people from Illinois could have decided (and do decide) the fate of that practice, or at least the particular politician, in their own State.

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