Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Give me that old time politician

Lindsey Graham is causing trouble again. He wants money for a study on dredging of  the Port of Charleston.  This would be called Pork, I would guess. Pork Barrel spending has gotten a bad rap and not for good reason.

The term pork barrel politics usually refers to spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. In the popular 1863 story "The Children of the Public", Edward Everett Hale used the term pork barrel as a homely metaphor for any form of public spending to the citizenry.[2] After the American Civil War, however, the term came to be used in a derogatory sense. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the modern sense of the term from 1873.[3] By the 1870s, references to "pork" were common in Congress, and the term was further popularized by a 1919 article by Chester Collins Maxey in the National Municipal Review, which reported on certain legislative acts known to members of Congress as "pork barrel bills". He claimed that the phrase originated in a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salt pork as a reward and requiring them to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout.[4] More generally, a barrel of salt pork was a common larder item in 19th century households, and could be used as a measure of the family's financial well-being. For example, in his 1845 novel The Chainbearer, James Fenimore Cooper wrote, "I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel."[5]

It was too often associated with kick backs and vote buying among other things. And would far to often be used to fund unnecessary projects just to line the pockets of some campaign contributor.  And every election cycle some member of congress that was up for reelection or some one wanting to be elected would promise to eliminate all this Pork from the Federal Budget.  But of course they wouldn't and this is a good thing.
With out these earmarks, a lot of the big important bills would not have gotten passed. That is how it use to work. Wheeling and dealing on the side over earmark legislation and/or amendments was how you got the votes for the big important bills like civil rights and equal opportunity and all the others.  It's how you would for relationships with other Senators and Congressman. And more importantly it was how you got funds for projects in your state. And this is why we have the type of representative government we have.  And the president and vice president are supposed to be there to help direct this.
Lord knows I would never want a Lindsey Graham for president. But I sure would want some one like him as my Senator to fight for what I though we needed in my state.
We have however been electing more and more people not because they would make a good representative of our state or district but instead based purely on some ideological agenda we want them to push. Is it any wonder then that nothing gets done ? That infrastructure gets ignored ? And both sides do this. Though the republicans have been more blatant and bellicose about it.
So give me some one who will represent my needs and those of my community rather than some pie in the sky ideology.

1 comment:

Alan said...

There are plenty of reasons to not like Graham - in any elective office. Bringing projects to his state isn't really one of them.

And at least dredging harbors can be somewhat useful. (I'm unsure of the volume of shipping Charleston handles, though any port for oceangoing vessels is a useful thing.)

Earmarks in general I'm not so crazy about, they're too often a way to slip pet projects past any sort of scrutiny. Let's put everything aboveboard.

I just think that any Federal money for South Carolina in particular ought to be contingent on them renouncing once and for all any Confederate history, and banishing that obscene flag for all time. It's the American equivalent of the swastika.