Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

01 June 2008

Earmarks as Tools for Congressional Income

Most Congressmen make a fortune while serving the public interest. No, make that while pretending to serve the public interest.

Congressmen generally love power and they will pass special interest legislation happily in order to ensure huge campaign contributions from people, companies, unions, and non-profits who wish those favors or to be protected from the awesome and arbitrary power of Congress. It seems that Americans are pretty tolerant of this. On the other hand, Congressmen use their inside information and their power to make themselves rich while in office. People seem to be less tolerant of this, but then they pay little attention to this pattern when it comes time to vote.

FOX News just did a documentary describing a few cases in which Congressmen used earmarks and their insider knowledge to make easy money. Businessmen are not allowed to use insider knowledge, but as usual, Congress lives by a different code than that they impose on the rest of us. There is something particularly evil about this bifurcation of the legal codes applied to Congressmen and to the rest of us. Meanwhile, very many of these same politicians pose as being champions of equality and even pretend to want an equality of material good outcomes. What effrontery this is to any rational observer!

Strangely, most Americans do think that Congressmen and politicians are crooks or at least damn nearly so. Yet, there is a huge disconnect between this perception and their readiness to assume that the solution to most any social problem is to be found by having these same crooks pass more legislation to regulate and mandate the actions of the rest of us. Over and over again, they vote these same power-hungry and wealth-voracious politicians back into office. Over and over, they rely on these politicians and their special interest allies to inform them of what the national social problems are, how government can rectify the problem with legislation or regulatory fiats, and allow them to administer the enforcement of the new laws.

Power has always been a strong inducement to corruption. The Founders and the Framers of the Constitution understood this. There are many reasons why the power of the federal government, and also the state governments for the most part, was highly limited in their constitutions. Placing limits on this corruption of power was one of those important reasons.

The most important reason to limit the power of government is to allow the individual to flourish in the exercise of his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This covers much more than political corruption, but where political corruption is ubiquitous, there will be little regard for the rights of the individual. Indeed, the best way to convince the populace that the politicians should be given more power is always to tell them that some public good overrides the rights of the individual. This causes much more power and wealth to flow to the politicians.

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