Earmarking our way to oblivion
By J.J. Jackson
James Madison once remarked, "with respect to the two words ‘general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." In writing that letter to James Robertson, he reiterated the sentiments he shared with the nation in Federalist 41 where he denounced objections by the anti-Federalists to the term "general Welfare" being included in the Constitution because of it's presumption of an unlimited and open ended scope as without "color".
The fear of federally elected politicians being able to curry favor with their constituents by bringing home the bacon in the sense of tax dollars was why under the Constitution our government was given only limited powers to tax and spend. The founders knew that what have become known as "earmarks" would not serve this nation well and would corrupt the intent of limited government.
Why did Madison and the vast majority of Federalists say that the "general Welfare" clause was limited to the set conditions that followed? So that leaders of our government couldn't buy votes!
Over the years since however we have basically amended the Constitution through court orders and legislation (neither of which are means by which such action can be achieved mind you) to say to heck with all that nonsense! And we see where it is now getting us. "General Welfare" has come to mean anything and everything some politico in Washington can dream up.
What do we have today? We have Republican Congressmen from Alaska like Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young that are kings of pork barrel spending and who year after year take money home to their state for pet projects such as the affectionately called "bridge to nowhere" among many, many others.
We have people like Rep. Sam Farr, Democrat, CA who pushed for $25 million to benefit spinach growers to be added to an "emergency" supplemental spending bill. Must be some spinach "emergency" we are not aware of!
Then there is House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, Democrat, Minnesota who continues to send taxpayer dollars each year to mega-farms and giving 50% of the money for unconstitutional subsidies to just 4% of America's farmers.
Perhaps we should ask Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota under what authority of Article I, Section 8 he sought fit to secure over two million dollars in federal loans for the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Railroad because they weren't making enough money on their own to pay for improvements and expansions?
Oh, but let's not forget Democrat Senator Robert Byrd who, if the truth be known, has more than his share of buildings in the state of West Virginia named after him because of all the money he has brought back to help build them. Not to mention that he has secured money for such unconstitutional projects like the "the Wood Education and Resource Center". $2.7 million of our tax dollars went to that to teach you and me about wood.
Thank God for government! I do not know how I would have learned anything about wood without this great organization! Honestly, the average American probably knows more about wood than anyone at that ridiculous place though. And those that have taken this money are no doubt busy studying the contents of Mr. Byrd's head apparently; a perfect specimen of wood.
And while we're in West Virginia, let's not forget about Byrd's partner in crime, Representative Allan Mollohan, who funneled $250 million dollars to non-profits which he himself set up. Conflict of interest?
Or what about John Murtha? Ah yes, good old John ... the man has more money going to his district, which includes Johnstown, PA for "defense" projects that it is amazing there aren't aircraft carriers sitting in Laurel Ridge State Park!
And all the while, the people who these Congressmen represent as well as those of countless others with their hands in the proverbial "cookie jar" cheer. "What great things they are doing for our region!" they cry as they fawn over the money. And they empower our elected officials to continue to push for these monies year after year. And year after year we spend more and more on these earmarks at huge cost to the tax payers.
But that's ok right? Because the evil "rich" pay those taxes. And we know they are not paying their "fair share" right? And then we wonder why we are paying so much more for the goods and services we buy as these costs are passed on to us.
Meanwhile? These politicians are laughing all the way to the bank. Because they know you will keep voting for them as long as they bring home the pork and train you to salivate on cue. Yes, they've got us right where they want us.
J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the lead editor of Conservative News & Opinion – The Land of the Free and also the owner of The Right Things – Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at http://www.libertyreborn.com