The current rage, as our Congress tries to restore its incinerated reputation, is to attack the problem of earmarks, those nasty tidbits used to buy votes, pay back favors, etc. Of course, they represent a mere one percent of the discretionary spending that is driving us so deeply into national debt that we cannot even count the number of zeros on the end of the number … but never mind, they must be our top priority!
But the real problem with earmarks is deeper, and simpler.
The much-abused “general welfare” clause says — no, I mean really, not what Congress takes it to mean — what it really says, is that as the Congress taxes us for their legitimate purposes, the money must be spent for the general welfare. That is, NOT for a single person, or a single bridge, or a single city or state or region. The money must be spent for the general welfare. For all of us.
And the essential nature of an earmark is to give a special benefit to a selected recipient.
So the real, underlying problem with earmarks is that they are flatly illegal, and there are early examples in our history of the Congress rightly refusing to allocate money to very worthy needs, for exactly this reason. Those who vote for them today are breaking their oath of office, and should be immediately impeached.
In a day when the general welfare clause is wrongly interpreted to allow the Congress to do anything they judge to be worthwhile, whether they have the authority to do it or not, let’s apply it correctly. If the courts won’t slap it down, the states can, and if they won’t, the people must. The choice is simple: Constitutional government that operates under the rule of law … or tyranny.