It’s not about the money
There is a bunch of noise on the web about the Porkulus 2 bill (Porkulus 3? Porkulus 4? Who can keep track anymore?) Obama just signed which contained 9,000 earmarks. Fiscal conservatives are jumping up and down about the waste. Fiscal profligates, looking like they got caught in the closet by their mother doing something reputed to make them go blind, go “Nu-uh. It’s only one percent of the total. And could you close the door, please.” They’re both wrong.
It’s not about the money. It is after all just one percent of a whole bunch of waste. If the fiscal conservatives wants to earn their marks, go after the bottomless pit of entitlements. Earmarks are about the corruption – the abuse of power.
A little mythbusting. Money is not corruption. And before I get the “Money is the root of all evil.” response, the actual quotation is “The love of money is the root of all evil.” It is the obsession with money that is evil.
Corruption comes from the abuse of power. Money is corrupting when it is converted to power and that is what earmarks do. Look at the “carbon cycle” of earmarks. Politicians drops in earmarks for their “favorite cause”. Favorite causes pay politicians. Usually campaign contributions. But sometimes favors. Relatives get unsolicited contracts or cushy jobs. Politicians get projects named for themselves which amounts to campaign advertising that doesn’t have to be declared. Almost without exception, the long term beneficiary of the earmark is not the causes, but the political whores who put them in.
And what do you end up with? A government of political patronage. If you want to see a perfect example of patronage government, go to Saudi Arabia, where no venture can be carried out without a prince’s name on it and a peice of the pie going to the prince. One of the things that made America great was the fact that the capital city was a not too big or imposing town in a swamp on the Potomac. Now it is the Most Important Place In The Country with anyone who wants to do something having to go there and pay their tithe to the new Church of Government.
Enterprise? Why bother. Raising money to invest in buildings and machines and employees is hard and risky. Far easier to invest in your local political patron and have a bunch of taxpayer money dropped in your lap.
Democracy? Forget it. If earmarks are nothing else, they are incumbent preservation bills. Money stolen from taxpayers to perserve politicians in their place of privilege. Politicians gaming the systems to ensure their hold on power and that, dear reader (all dozen or so of you), is the real corruption.