Why Pork Matters

I’ve spent too many bits blogging on politics of late – It’s hard to avoid this election year. I’ll soon be back doing my normal gig, trying to expound on the places where science and religion and politics intersect with each other and with our lives. But until then, I continue to be distracted by all the political machinations.

You’ve probably noticed Glenn Reynolds blogging on Pork Busters. He’s not alone; This evening the good Capt’n Ed explains why we should care about the budget process as practiced by our politicians.

Pork perverts self-government. It puts all of the incentives in the wrong places and forces action in the wrong direction. Eliminating the pork in this year’s bills might not save a dime as the agencies will simply receive the money without prior forced allocation. However, by removing the struts of power on which pork rests, we can change the incentives so that forking over huge sums of money to overpowerful bureaucracies becomes a political liability instead of an asset.

He’s right. I can complain all I want about priorities (as I have), and I can rationally debate the merits of this program over that. But my best advice and the advice of nearly three hundred million Americans counts for nothing when the process is subverted for political gain.

Up until now I’ve been urging that the most important issues in this upcoming election are the Global War on Terrorism, illegal immigration, and because I am Catholic, abortion and family issues. But I’ve become convinced that these are all secondary. The system cannot tolerate tenured politicians of either party who serve themselves by paying for their campaigns at the taxpayers’ expense.

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