I love pork.
Ribs, shoulder, loin, bacon, ham, rinds … num num num.
This, of course, is pork from four-legged pigs. The kind that comes from two-legged politicians is distasteful.
“Earmarks,” as pork is official labeled, are the special budgetary morsels forked in legislation to get special servings on the plates of porcine politicians. Usually, political pork is buried deep within a bill or package of bills to avoid scrutiny and all too often, the secreted item has nothing to do with the primary intention of the legislation.
A bridge in Wisconsin will be included in a defense authorization bill. Money for a butterfly museum in Upper West Chestnut might be found in the transportation budget. Manufacturers of wooden arrows got a tax break under the economic bailout bill.
In 2008, Congress spent over $17 billion on earmarks and almost $20 billion in 2009.
In addition to inflating the government’s budget unnecessarily, pork contaminates politicians (even more) and has been known – on many occasions – to be a dietary supplement for kickbacks, extortion, fraud, tax evasion, campaign violations and wedgies. Conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate tried last month to temporarily ban earmarks on spending bills, but the effort was defeated by a 68-29 vote.
Voters like, but don’t like earmarks. It depends on whether or not their district is in the buffet line. Nonetheless, it seems to me that all pork should be more openly registered, not covered in the gravy of some obscure legislation. So, here’s the deal; the body of any legislation should be restricted to those aspects, topics, subjects, condicils and general stuff that directly relates only to the intended matter. If the bill concerns highways in Wisconsin, that’s where the funding for the bridge goes. If it’s about art and education in Upper West Chestnut, you get your butterfly museum.
As for the other bits of menu items, in each budgetary cycle there should be one specific piece of legislation – call it …. “The Constituent Services Funding Bill” – in which all of the usual items of pork are listed – with the name of the sponsor. That way, those who care to can scan the various nutritional elements of government spending and more easily identify the relevant fat content. Further, politicians can point their constituents to the meat they’ve provided the folks back home.
Pork is not just “the other white meat,” it’s the roast of the republic, the loin of liberty – the fricassee of freedom!
Without it, our country would have a considerably different waistline and, surely, constitutional coronaries would be seriously reduced.
I’m hungry. Pass the ribs.