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"Where's The Beef"Posted Friday, October 9, 2009, at 2:28 PM
Wikipedia defines the term pork barrel politics as spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. The term supposedly originates to a pre-Civil War practice of giving slaves a barrel of salted pork in order to create competition among the slaves so that they would get their share of the pork. The gift did nothing to free the slaves from their horrible situation and created the appearance that the slaves had found a benevolent patron.
The pork barrel practice has become common place in American government. Senators and congressman of both parties try to place into the budget their pet projects that may have little true impact in the lives of their constituents; often rewarding the few at the expense of the whole. A congressional district or a state may rejoice that they received what appears to be a beneficial gift but ultimately only adds to the tax burden of those very people. Like the slaves it appears to benefit the constituency but ultimately it only deepens our slavery to the state through taxation.
The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org) outlines seven criteria that define spending as pork:
Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
Not specifically authorized;
Not competitively awarded;
Not requested by the President;
Greatly exceeds the President's budget request or the previous year's funding;
Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
Serves only a local or special interest.
Like the slaves of the pre-Civil War era we have taken an attitude toward our lot in life through government taxation as inevitable and that there is no hope for change. However, change can occur and our future does not have to be an extension of our past. It will mean that we will be willing to pass on pork in order that we can eat the steak of freedom from deepening taxation and dependency upon the state.
The Declaration of Independence says, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Government's place in our lives is to provide us the basic God given rights of life, liberty and the personal pursuit of happiness. Undue taxation that provides pork for a few limits life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness for the many. Government is not to be the slave holder over its citizens through undue taxation and the promise of salted pork.
Ultimately pork is nothing more than selfishness. Whenever I place my good over the good of the whole I have abused my rights as a citizen through my selfish desires. May we "the people" triumph over "me the person". Say "thanks, but no thanks", to our politician's pork and enjoy your freedom.
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Phil Warren is a local pastor and has lived in the Dexter community for the last 12 years. He has six children and four grandchildren and his wife Cindy is a local teacher. He enjoys photography, reading, writing and golf. He also loves coaching in the local park leagues. Phil spent his early years growing up in the hills near Wappapello Lake. He moved to Granite City, IL. during his grade school years. Phil worked 13 years at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis and has pastored since 1986. He also served in the U.S. Army as a military policeman and was stationed at Ft. Campbell KY. and Seoul, Korea. He attended college at SIUE and Oakland City College.