Monday, May 18, 2009 - Earmark Nation - Opinion: Earmark Nation


The Founders never imagined spending such vast sums.

Mocking this presumed hypocrisy is good sport, but the Murtha example deserves a closer look. You just might find that you are staring at a Pogo problem: We have met the enemy, and he is us.

When we speak of public corruption, we normally mean an official has been convicted of breaking a law. The bad pols did it. We are at the point, though, where it is hard to say that the corruptions of government are only about the politicians.

Murtha may be right. We are all earmarkers now.

We the people have concluded that if we don't use the Honorable John or Nancy or Ted in Congress to get our piece of it, someone else will get it.

For the longest time, we were able to believe that these corruptions were the inevitable but petty price of politics. But I agree with John Murtha. It isn't petty anymore. It isn't just about amusing "pet projects." The whole system has become an earmark. The politicians have been shaping the system so that more and more people have to buy in to the earmark philosophy -- we pay, they decide -- or get left out.

Barack Obama isn't a reformer. He's the president of Earmark Nation. We are about to enact the Obama federal health-insurance entitlement, which on top of all the other entitlements and their limitless liabilities will require pulling trillions of dollars more into the federal budget. Whatever nominal public good this is supposed to achieve, it means that they, these 535 pols, most of them gerrymandered for life, will decide in perpetuity the details of how to dole it out.


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