The Corrupting Influence of Earmarks

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 and is filed under Blog

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If there is any doubt in your mind that Members of Congress view your money as Monopoly money that they can use as they see fit, doubt no longer. $1M means nothing to them anymore. It is, by the way, endemic to both sides of the aisle. So while we are told there is a vast difference between the current iterations of both major parties in American politics, there really isn’t. The size and scope of government grows everyday. Government spending continues to spiral out of control as our national debt grows (and grows and grows. . . .).

There is a vast difference, however, between us, the American taxpayers, and Members of Congress. My brother Ned has aptly called them the Ruling Class. It is a title that can be used in other arenas as well (education, business, etc.). While our taxes continue to rise, we are told by the Ruling Class that they can trust us to use our tax dollars wisely. Let’s just all agree that sham is over.

Which is why I love the article the Washington Post ran yesterday on Congressional earmarks. Let me give you the lowlights of it.

*A Republican Senator earmarking $100M for renovation near his commercial office building.

*A Congressman from Georgia earmarking $6.3M to replenish the beach near his island vacation cottage (really?).

*33 Members of Congress steering more than $300M in earmarks towards dozens of public projects that are within 2 miles of properties they own.

There is a reason the approval rating for Congress is at an all time low. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to restore any confidence in Congress. Obviously, one of the ways of doing this is increased transparency. The other is a reinvigorated electorate that clearly sends a message to its individual Members of Congress: “We sent you there. We expect you to do certain things and if you don’t, we’ll send someone else.”