There is all this talk about earmarks lately. Personally, I think earmarks are completely wrong and at best a form of socialism where money is taken away from the people and given to others who otherwise would not be able to survive on their own.
Here is how I see earmarks. What is my share of that earmark? I mean, how much would I get if the earmark was divided equally between all 300 million Americans. (Lets just use that number. Sure the population keeps growing, but so do the amount of earmarks.) Take these two Congressmen, one bill and their earmarks in it:
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations defense panel, has secured the most earmarked dollars in the 2008 military spending bill, followed closely by the panel's ranking member Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.). Even though Young secured 52 earmarks, worth $117.2 million - and co-sponsored at least $27 million worth of others - Murtha's 48 earmarks amount to a total of $150.5 million, according to a database compiled by the watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). - Newsbusters
Murth's earmarks in this bill cost each American 50 cents. Since I am the only wage-earner of a family of four, this one Congressman's allotment of pork in this bill cost me $2.
50 cents is nothing to complain about right? Well that is how they get away with it. The amounts don't really amount to anything by themselves, but rob 300 million people and it will add up. Even taking a penny adds up to $3 million if you take one from each of us. Sure, the amounts are small. That is their defense.
Now let's take a look at Young's earmarks in this bill. They cost each American 39 cents. His earmarks cost me $1.56. Between the two of them, I got shafted $3.56. Of course there is more pork in this bill. The Newsbuster's post lists another $202 million in earmarks. That is another 67 cents per American and another $2.69 bringing my total to $6.26.
Keep in mind that the $6.26 is what this bill cost me in earmarks alone. (It is a $459 billion bill. $1,532 for each of us. $6,128 would be my family's share. But for that amount, I pay for two wars. But this is what taxes are for. Not for pet projects.)
Congress's Pork projects in the 2008 Defense Appropriations bill cost me at least $6.26. However, there is good news. It seems that the pork in last year's bill was twice as much. So there is another $12.50 from my pocket to theirs. The bad news is that this is one of many bills that gets stuffed with pork.
Let's take the bridge to nowhere. Actually, there were two bridges to nowhere.
One of the Alaska bridges, dubbed the "Bridge to Nowhere" by its critics, would connect one small town to a tiny island. It received $223 million in the highway bill that Congress passed this summer. The second bridge, named "Don Young's Way" in honor of its patron, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), received about $230 million -- but that is just a down payment on a cost that could hit $1.5 billion. - Washington Post
$443 million for two bridges in Alaska. Now keep in mind, Alaska has no state income tax. If they really wanted those two bridges so bad, they could have taken it out of State Revenues. They can do this as there is a state revenue surplus and each State resident get a share in it. But, there is no need to use State funds as long as they can get the money from the rest of us.
$443 million. $1.48 each. $5.90 for a family of four. If they manage to get the full $1.5 billion for Don Young's Way, each person in the US will sport $5 for a bridge they will never see. $20 out of my pocket.
The Club for Growth is one of a number of groups investigating earmarks. They recently came out with their RePORK Card. The card lists close to $104 million in earmarks where amendments were submitted to cut funding for. There were 50 amendments and only one, to cut funding for a 'Perfect Christmas Tree' project passed. ($129,000 not wasted.) The RePORK Card documents who voted to take 35 cents from each American and give it to their friends. That's another $1.39 out of my pocket.
So what to do? Despite pressuring Congress to make changes, they are just too addicted to pork to stop. It doesn't help to have shameless porkers like Congressman Murtha in the House for other Congressmen to hide their earmarks behind. Well these clowns are not the only guilty parties here. Let's not forget the recipients of this money. Sure some of the money is going to states and local governments and there is no way to shame them, but there are the businesses who also get pork and they might be sensitive to negative press.
Take Sherwin-Williams Co. They are getting $2 million for development of a 'paint shield'. Surely, they did not expect their name to get dragged through the press for being associated with a pork project. Surely, when this is all over, they will have lost over $2 million in goodwill. If this project was worth it, they would have spent $2 million of their own money to develop it. Instead, this is a fishing expedition. If something good comes out of it, great. If not, they lose nothing and can always go back and ask for more funding to keep the additional revenue alive. Now if they really want to score points with the American people, then they would come out and publicly refuse to take the earmark. Until then, Sherwin-Williams will not get any of my business. Not a cent. They can enjoy their pork instead.
Targeting the corporations should not be too difficult. Take the issue of candidate donations made by Rupurt Murdoch and News Corp/Fox executives to Democrats. That money has become toxic to their reelection campaigns.
There is no reason why earmarks can't be seen as equally poisonous for business. This will not stop earmarks in support of big government, like the $39 million going to the 'National Drug Intelligence Center' which survives solely due to Murtha's yearly earmark. (Sidenote: Empoyees rate the NDIC as a poor place to work) Even some of the businesses and 'foundations' will not care, like the 'Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service' ($2 million earmark) which in itself is a reason to question their very existence. But other businesses will. I bet Shermin-Williams does.
This is not a solution, but it would be a step in the right direction.
Note: Original Photo found here - "Murtha put war at top of agenda in House"