It’s the moral hazard, stupid!

How budget battles go without the earmarks

…[T]he absence of earmarks also allowed for a more freewheeling debate on the House floor during consideration of the Republican plan to slash $61 billion from this year’s budget since Democrats and Republicans were not caught up in protecting the special provisions they had worked so hard to tuck into the spending bill…

[Earmarks play] an insidious role in pushing up federal spending through what is known in legislative terms as logrolling.


Earmark aficionados have advanced 2 major defenses of the practice.

  1. Individual members best know the needs of their constituents, directing the money should not be left to bureaucrats.
  2. It’s a minuscule amount of money relative to the Federal budget.

Amazingly enough, the first argument evaporates when there is no money to direct. It appears to have depended on a presumption of what “presumption” means. As in presuming you have the right to a permanent floating slush-fund.

The second argument was never more than an attempt at obfuscating the 2 major moral hazards of earmarks: bribery by your peers using other people’s money, and becoming accustomed to it.

Without earmark trinkets, it becomes significantly more difficult to leverage a few millions here and there into trillions in Federal spending. Votes bought in exchange for Federally funding an indoor rain forest in Iowa, for example, will be harder to come by. When the bribery opportunities disappear, spending debates can be more nearly rational. Whooda thunk it?

Well, everybody. Really. Even most Lobbyists, Bureaucrats, Representatives and Senators.

The only point of earmarks has been assisting the continued growth of Big Government by enhancing the power of the loot dispensers. This issue is multi-partisan – excluding only those representatives who adhere to morally equivalent Big Government philosophies, like fascism and socialism.

If any of your congresscritters insist on defending earmarks, they need to be retired.

2 thoughts on “It’s the moral hazard, stupid!”

  1. If legislators are too ill-compassed to make the easy “minuscule amount of money” decisions, how on God's green Earth will they ever find the compass or courage to tackle the tough ones?