Posted by Brad @ 8:31 pm on January 16th 2013

Pining for Pork

I have long criticized “earmark bans” as being nuisance smokescreens – easy pledges (like “ending fraud and waste”) that are not even marginally effective at cutting budgets but in fact may be counter-productive as it gives politicians an easy out in answering spending questions. There is usually an almost directly inverse relationship between how hard grind the pork axe and how unwilling they are to actually propose and try to pass meaningful structural spending measures that would actually make any difference. That was combined with the eye-rolling spectacle of the champion anti-porkers loving to laundry list ridiculous-sounding projects that, upon even minimal scrutiny, nearly always said more about the disinterest of the speaker in getting past the talking point and scrutinizing merit than it did about the actual value of the project. Turns out 1 million dollars to study bear procreation is actually a significant investment in protecting the reproduction of a keystone species in national parks and not, in fact, because some researchers somewhere are just bilking the federal government so they can watch bear-fucking.

In any case, there is actually one element of the pork wars that honestly had not occurred to me. Banning earmarks may actually radically disincentive legislators from passing big legislation.

Not sure that sways me as much as it might liberals (all else being equal, the less big legislation the better, I say), but still, an interesting point to consider.

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