Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bringing Home the Bacon

Congress, with its batch of fresh faces from the November election, vowed to address the subject of earmarks in appropriations bills (e.g., bacon for voters to chew on).

Conservatives proposed banning the practice of earmarks altogether. To do so would mean that individual congressmen would no longer be able to attach the approval to spend money on his district's rattlesnake rodeo to unrelated bills addressing the USDA meat inspection practices, for example.

In the scheme of trillion-dollar budgets and even bigger deficits, earmarks don't amount to much. But to ordinary taxpayers, and because of the ideology of big government it represents, they do.

But even some Republicans balked at the notion, on the grounds that 'it is my duty to make sure I secure some federal money for my constituents back home.'

Let's review a few basic principles from Civics 101.

The 'federal money' only exists because the U.S. Government takes it from citizens. It takes money from citizens by taxing us: income tax, business tax, fees, regulations, etc, etc.

So, to 'secure' federal money for constituents is to capitulate to the most inefficient scheme ever: send money to Washington through taxes, then beg for it back after politicians, bureacrats and regulators have extracted salaries and fees and generally wasted a bunch of it.

If congressmen were really concerned about constituents, they would seek to end the practice altogether. If people in your district need money for the rattlesnake rodeo, don't beg for it from Washington: instead, don't send it to Washington in the first place.

The attempt to ban earmarks? Failed.

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