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Earmarks Are Parlimentary Problem

By Ken Poland
Opinion | March 9, 2011

pigs-by-fence.jpgCOLBY, Kan. - 'Pork Barrel' and, the recently named, 'Earmarks,' have been a part of the legislative agenda since the very beginning of our nation. Our congressmen have been doing their job of representing their own electorate. Isn't that the idea of the 'United States'? To do for the people what they cannot do, efficiently, for themselves?

By combining the resources of the nation, we can provide services that local areas cannot handle. We depend upon our representatives, in the congress, to assess the requests for national assistance to accomplish local projects. If those requests are legitimate needs, then they should be met.

Are the needs of those in a slum neighborhood in New York City any less a concern for me than the needs of impoverished areas or communities in Kansas?

Are the agricultural needs in New Hampshire any less a national concern than the needs of Kansas farmers? The welfare of agriculture and rural communities is vitally important to the welfare of society in general.

The problem is that many times those requests (pork barrel or earmark) are tacked onto other bills.

The astute congressmen know that if they can slide a questionable request in on another bigger bill, it will have a better chance of passing without thorough scrutinization from the body. Leverage is applied to gain votes for the bigger issues. Amendments get attached to major bills without the public having a chance to vet the issue. An amendment that is not germane to the original bill should not be attached. They should stand on their own. An amendment that makes someone else pay for our local and selfish wants that are not beneficial to the welfare of the nation is not ethical.

Does using national resources for local projects benefit the entire nation? Is it beneficial to society for a region of the nation to be undereducated because of local financial problems? Is it beneficial to the nation that roads are designed and funded for through areas that may not have local demand or resources to build?

Is it beneficial to the Nation to bring projects to areas that have the facilities and expertise to insure success? If our legislators do not promote our ability and resources available, have we failed to support the welfare of the nation?

Is it beneficial to the nation that Wichita, with its aeronautical experience, should be considered when contracting for the new refueling aircraft? Is it beneficial for the nation that our Kansas State University faculty and facilities should be considered when locating new and expanded research on animal health and public safety?

If our elected government representatives have not promoted our ability to provide unique services for national benefit, they have not done their job. If our elected personnel have not requested national assistance to provide needed resources through funding for local or regional needs, they have not done their job.

We have a recently elected senator, who has done an apparent 'about face' on 'earmarks'.

When he served us in the House of Representatives he sought national funding and support for programs (earmarks?), Kansas could provide services that would benefit the entire nation. He promoted programs and projects that would provide jobs for Kansans and would protect our environment and resources.

I didn't always agree with him on all issues, but I certainly did appreciate his ability to represent our congressional district and the state of Kansas and to secure funding and support for those programs that weren't only good for Kansas but good for the Nation as well.

Now, he has declared that such actions should not be allowed. What? Why the change? Could it be, he's pandering to a group who are simply promoting the welfare of the fittest and ignoring the welfare of all?

We have a political group, the fundamental ultra conservative right, that wants to shrink government and cut off all funding for anything that doesn't directly benefit themselves. Their main agenda is maintaining and enhancing their own economic advantages. That group has, within their ranks, some who want to enlarge government to allow enforcement of their own theological position on personal or individual rights and obligations.

Funding from general tax revenues for school vouchers and itemizing of charitable contributions, both religious and secular, are closely related to 'ear marks'. Sooner or later, the conflict over spending between individual rights, states rights, federal rights, and religious freedom will put him in a position that makes him eat his words concerning those issues defined as 'ear marks'.

The best solution to the problem is to disallow any amendments that aren't germane to the main motion or bill.


1 Comment

Earmarks are a tricky question. I do not what to eliminate the ability for a representative to appropriate money for a cause important to them, or their district. However, I think we need to have a better process for it. Until we figure out what that process is, I think I have to support banning earmarks altogether. Yes it is hypocritical of those calling for it, but it might be the best way to proceed until we find a good method.


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This page contains just one story published on March 9, 2011. The one written previous to this is titled "Decreasing the Deficit: Earmarks, Pork and the Golden Fleecing of America" and the story published right after this one is "Waiting for OUR Superman, or Superwoman"

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