My last Blog, Earmark Reform 101, got some interesting responses. One objection was that some good came from earmarks. An example was a school program benefiting kids, which was funded by money from an earmark.
Let’s take a little closer look at how this works. I am not opposed to the program benefiting the kids, but where does the money for the earmark come from? In spite of what some people think, it does NOT grow on trees. There are only three options. One is increasing government dept and letting the next generation worry about it. The second is printing new money, which makes our money worth less. The third is taxes. Someone has to pay taxes to fund the earmark. Let’s look at taxes.
This is how it works. I will represent the Federal government. You represent the taxpayer in your community. You pay me $20. I then add an earmark to a bill for a program to benefit the kids.
Working kids into the scenario is always good. I don’t care if you are promoting a whorehouse or a drug cartel, try to confuse the issues and hide the facts by making it “Good for the kids.”
We now have an earmark to give money to the state to fund this program for the kids. I, the Federal Government, will give your state $10 for this program.
I, the Federal Government, have to keep the other $10. I have expenses. This $10 goes to fund the Federal bureaucracy.
There are restrictions, requirements, reporting, and matching funds required, of course, for the $10 given back to the state. After all this is big government. Big government knows much better what is good for your kids than you do, or at least that is their position.
The bottom line is that you got $5 back for the kids program that you paid $20. Sounds like a heck of a deal for me, the Federal Government, but not so good for you. Why not just give your $10 to your school district? This way the program for the kids would get $10 instead of $5, and you paid $10 instead of $20.
Still think earmarks are good? If you think some DC bureaucrat is more qualified to decide what is good for your kids than you are, maybe you do.
How do we change the system? I hope we can eliminate earmarks, but it will be hard. Money is often power, and politicians love the power and money they get with earmarks. This is the major way they reward their political contributors.
Let’s be realistic. Corporations, unions and special interest groups expect a return on their campaign contributions. In most cases, they don’t make political contributions because of their civic pride. I hope to address how large a return they expect later. It is scary.
The bottom line is that even the good things that come from earmarks can be done better and cheaper without the involvement of the Federal Government. There will be a lot less political corruption too.