Ramesh has been consistent on this approach to earmarks, but I humbly disagree. I find earmarks to be the sell-out which brings about big legislative horrors. They are akin to what we all know and have experienced in our own lives: people deep-sixing their principles, friendships, jobs, and much more for relative chump change or a short ride in the back seat of a Chevy. John Q. Public is making six figures a year, but risks his job by stealing office paper, putting in for expenses that are personal (cabs to a date, dry cleaning, you name it). Why would someone risk a well-paying job over a few bucks? It happens every day. Why would someone risk a marriage for a one-night stand? It happens every night. Why would a Senator risk his political principles — or his party’s reputation for being opposed to excessive government spending — for a federally funded traffic light on Main Street? It happens all the time.
Granted, at the bottom of the ledger, earmarks are anecdotal as a percentage of federal spending. But they are the bribe that seals the deal on big-funding bills, that causes the sell-out of reputation and principle, personal and partisan. The influence of earmarks far outpaces their size in accumulated dollars. Their consequence is a bigger and more centralized government. That’s why opposing them should be a conservative priority.
Our model on fighting excessive spending should be the NYPD strategy under Bratton and Giuliani: address broken windows and turnstile-jumping, and watch murders and rapes decline. Stop the five-figure earmarks and we’ll have a better chance at stopping the ten-figure bills they enable.
As Kitty Kalen put it best, musically: Little Things Mean a Lot.