Formerly the Thinking Catholic Strategic Center
First, what, exactly, is an earmark? It is a very specific line item on a Bill; a Bill is a proposed law until it is passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, when it becomes a Law. These very specific line items are quite legitimate, when and only when they refer to details of how some portion of the financing is to be spent to achieve the specific objective of the Bill. For instance, how much of the total proposed tax expenditure is to be spent on the design phase of a new aircraft carrier, and exactly how much might be spent on steel for it, and so forth. When all of these line items are specifically related to the object of the Bill, they are legitimate line items. In my terminology (not that of Congress) this is not an earmark, but just another line item.
When a line item is not related to the object of the Bill, it is an illegitimate line item, or, again in my terminology (not that of Congress) this is an earmark. To me, and to most of us, specific line items directly related to the object of the Bill are not earmarks; line items not related to the object of the Bill are earmarks, they are quite illegitimate, they are corrupt and corrupting.
Second, how, exactly, did earmarks come to be? The first time an earmark was ever attempted to be passed, it was vetoed by James Madison in 1817, with the explanation:
Since then, U.S. Presidents have either been not as astute, or they have been involved in the process, for earmarks have just been allowed to be very quietly slipped in and attached to completely unrelated Bills, beginning in the 1970s. The 1970 Defense Appropriations Bill passed into law with 12 completely unrelated, and therefore completely illegitimate earmarks. The 1980 Defense Bill had 62, and by 2005 it grew to 2,671. Of course, once the rest of Congress caught on, the illegitimate earmark game spread beyond Defense Bills. The 2005 Transportation Appropriations Bill passed into law with 6,371 earmarks.
Third, so what? Aren’t they necessary? At the local level, where the Federal tax money is to be spent, perhaps, but the local citizens or their representatives were never even asked. At the Federal level, where the tax money for it is collected, absolutely not. The real problem here is that each of these earmarks adds cost, meaning citizen tax dollar expenditure, to the Bill. If the objective of the earmark is something other than the objective of the Bill, it should not add any cost to the objective of the Bill. Period. It doesn’t even belong in the Bill.
It does violence to the Rule of Subsidiarity. Congressmen could never get their local constituents to vote in any of these specific earmarks and the related local tax increase on themselves to pay for them. Or, perhaps they prefer to not even try. Local projects involving local expenditures should legitimately be addressed at the local level, not at the Federal level.
These earmarks are virtually never discussed openly. They represent sneaky, underhanded politics, and purposeful deception of the public. What the hell did a brown tree snake eradication program on Guam have to do with the 2005 National Defense Bill? What the hell did a deer avoidance program in Weedsport NY have to do with the 2005 National Transportation Bill?
Fourth, earmarks represent such a small fraction of the total Bill, which is, of course, desperately needed right now, that the voters do not care about them as an issue. The terrible thing about this popular and sneaky political argument, often heard from the “professional” politicians of both Parties, is that it is largely true. The citizens are mesmerized into thinking that the money their Congressman just got for their little neighborhood is free. In fact, it is not free; it comes out of the Federal taxes that everybody pays. To the locality where the funds are spent, they got a real deal, because what they paid into the total Bill expenditure is miniscule compared to what is being spent in their local neighborhood.
Because they got a local benefit at no local tax cost, the locals think they got a real deal. But what they fail to realize is that they, too, are paying for brown tree snake eradication on the island of Guam, an item they have no interest in, either at the local or federal level. Federal money should not be spent on local issues; that’s just common sense. The local citizenry are paying their share into every single Federal Bill, and into every single State Bill, not just the one that contained their little slice of illegitimate political pork.
Fifth, it has reached the point where Congressmen are expected to bring home pork; they campaign on it; they promise it, and they deliver it. It has become a major strategy in their personal political success. They love to tick off a list of things they brought home to the locals at no local tax cost. From a face-lift of the public library, to stocking trout in the local river, to a new fire house, and on, and on. They spend a huge portion of their working hours in Congress wheeling and dealing to agree to someone else’s pet pork earmark and get others to agree to theirs.
It gets them re-elected. It makes them popular. It adds to their resume and enhances their political future. The fact that they are doing local politics at the national level is glossed over; Subsidiarity? What subsidiarity? We don’t need no stinking subsidiarity. I can get you whatever you need, Mr. Mayor, or Mr. Local Big Shot, or Mr. Lobbyist; you just come right straight to me with all your needs.
Sixth, If a higher level of government didn’t pay for it, it wouldn’t get done. Only the Federal (or State) level is big enough to solve this particular local problem. No kidding. If that is true, well then, perhaps it is not a real local problem. If the local populace is willing to pay for it, then the local populace considers it a worthwhile thing to do. If the local populace is not willing to pay for it, then, the local populace does not consider it a worthwhile thing to do. When it is deemed to be important enough, the local citizenry will express their willingness to pay for it. There is nothing difficult about this.
Who is the State or Federal Legislator or Executive to decide, behind the backs of the local citizenry, that the local citizenry has a problem that the local citizenry cannot solve for themselves? The question that should be asked here regards whose idea was this earmark, who will profit from it, and why it is not presented to the town council, or the county commission, or whomever. Why go to the Fed, or to the State? Only severe emergencies or disasters deserve highest government attention, and even then only when local remedies are overtaxed.
Seventh, the process is working, we should just leave it alone, because nobody is being hurt by it. The reasons that this notion is false are legion. To begin with, no government tax expenditures come with no strings attached. Accepting Federal a Federal hand-out invariably means accepting some Federal rules of behavior. Many, perhaps most, earmarks are not just one-time-shot earmarks, but ongoing, permanent changes in annual budgets, from now on. Federal funding of local education is an example. If you accept any Federal money, then you must religiously censor Christian exercise in your local schools.
In more ways than one, earmarks cause a migration of political and economic power from the local citizenry to the higher level of government. Eventually, the government will be doing everything, and the citizen nothing, except paying all the taxes. Any time any higher level of government “gives” you some money, someone in that higher level of government will, sooner or later, take an active interest in and begin to direct you on how to spend it, under threat of taking it back. Once the local citizenry becomes dependent upon the regular, annual earmark funds, there is a government hook in their jaw, and they are a little bit less free.
Eighth, don’t worry about it! Let’s all gather round the Pork Barrel. This is the overriding consensus opinion of Congress, including both Parties. It goes along with don’t let the cat out of the bag. They don’t want us to know how it works, and they keep a veil of secrecy around it. Earmark money, touted publicly by politicians to be miniscule in the grand scheme of things, is, collectively, huge. To paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen, you know, “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”
We are talking real money here, probably the biggest contributor to the political Pork Barrel, which draws corruption like manure draws flies. Politicians skim from it, lobbyists bribe for it, special interests jump through hoops for it, contractors fight for it, kickbacks are paid from it, legal and political backs are scratched with it, at all levels of government and commerce. It’s sickening. The smaller the earmark the more likely it is to involve corruption, because the perpetrators hope no one will be interested in such a small earmark. To each individual who gets a chunk of it, it’s very large indeed.
It was our money.
How to stop it. Presidents and Governors need to scratch out the earmarks and pass the Bill without any earmarks each time they deem the Bill itself worthy of becoming Law. So long as there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent them from doing it, they should just do it. I doubt any State Constitutions prohibit such a thing; the Federal Constitution does not. If there is or comes to be such a limitation, then the whole Bill should be vetoed until it arrives on the Executive desk without any earmarks.
Opponents will argue that there are too many needed earmarks that won’t be passed if we do this. Well, no shuckin’, Sherlock. They are not supposed to be passed if the affected jurisdiction doesn’t want to pass it and pay for it at that level. Why should a Nebraska farmer have to pay for some project in Central Park New York? New Yorkers should be willing to pay for what they consider to be worthy New York needs, and Nebraskans should be willing to pay for what they consider to be worthy Nebraska needs, and they each should be willing and even anxious to leave each others taxes strictly alone.
The Rule of Subsidiarity should always be applied. The scope, reach, power, size and cost of higher government should always be reduced whenever it is possible to reduce it.
Sarcastic Acronym Hover-Link Footnotes: For the convenience of those readers using devices that lack a mouse, these footnotes are provided for all webpages, in case any webpage contains any hover-links. (If you don't have a mouse, you can't "hover" it over a link without clicking just to see the simple acronym interpretation. Click a footnote link to see the gory details.)SLIMC1 Secularist Liberal Intellectual Media Complex
Culture=Religion+Politics; Who Are We? Vic Biorseth
The Brilliantly Conceived Organization of the USA; Vic Biorseth
Return to the BLOG page
Return to the HOME PAGE
Subscribe to our Free E-Zine News Letter
Respond to This Article Below The Last Comment
Saturday, March 09, 2013
Converted Page to SBI! Release 3.0 BB 2.0.
Date: Tue Nov 18 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
Changes pursuant to changing the website URL
and name from
Thinking Catholic Strategic Center to
Catholic American Thinker.
Pulled the trigger on the 301 MOVE IT option June 1, 2014. Working my way through all the webpages. .
Never be lukewarm.
Life itself demands passion.
He who is indifferent to God has already forfeited his soul.
He who is indifferent to politics has already forfeited his liberty.
In America, religion is not mere window dressing and citizenship is not a spectator sport.
Do not allow our common destiny as a whole people to just happen without your input.
Seek the Truth; find the Way; live the Life; please God, and live forever.
Catholic American Thinker
Free E-zine Subscription
You will receive immediate email newsletters with links to new articles as they are published here. Your email is perfectly secure here; we use it only to send you the
Catholic American Thinker
and absolutely nothing else.
Arguments Pro and Con Pages
We love a good argument. Here are some of our favorites.
Argument: The Good, The Bad and The Pointless. On the Reasoned Argument. (In the absence of reason, there is no valid argument.)
The Arguments pro and con under girding the Catholic American Thinker. Foundational arguments pro and con under girding Western culture and the Judeo-Christian ethos.
Artificial Contraception: Tool of Materialism with which to destroy Monotheism.
Acceptance of Artificial Contraception marked the single most destructive turning point in the history of Western Culture, marking the end of moral norms, foretelling tolerance of anything at all.
Refuting the Origin Of Species pseudo-scientific theory of Charles Darwin.
If Darwin’s Origin Of Species is a true Scientific Theory then there must be a preponderance of evidences supporting it. Show us any of it.
Refuting the Repressed Memory Syndrome scientistic theory of Freudianism.
If Freudianism’s Repressed Memory Syndrome is a true Scientific Theory then there must be a preponderance of evidences supporting it. Show us any of it.
Refuting Marxism and sub-theories of Socialism and Communism, as Scientism.
If Marxism represents any sort of true Scientific Theory then there must be a preponderance of evidences supporting it. Show us any of it.
Refuting Separation of Church and State as a Constitutional Principle.
If Seperation of Church and State cannot be found in our Constitution, what makes it a Constituional Principle? Nothing. It is NOT a Constitutional Principle.
Argument opposing Sharia law as brutal, oppressive and murderous.
Opposing Sharia Law means opposing brutal domination, wife beating, child abuse and even bloody murder.
Our argument supporting the Rule of Subsidiarity, practicality and common sense.
The moral and organizational Rule of Subsidiarity is crucial to the rights of man and essential for freedom.
The Sexual Revolution: Sexual Freedom, or enslavement and degradation?
The Sexual Revolution was supposed to free us, rather than enslave us, and uplift us, rather than degrade us. It was a lie from the beginning; it degraded whole cultures and attacked human dignity.
Our argument against Earmarks: the infamous Line Items of Pork Barrel Politics.
Legislative Earmarks feed corruption through skimming, lobbyist paybacks, hidden political agendas and more, by providing a huge political Pork Barrel feeding frenzy.
You cannot legislate morality is the false claim of the immoral.
We MUST legislate morality, as long as the legislature is representative of the people. Otherwise, what is legislated reflects the whim of the dictator(s) of the moment.
The religion as a private matter argument that cannot stand the light of day.
Claiming one’s religion as a private matter is a neutral thing, unless the one with the claim is in authority over us, as an official or a “representative” politician.
Our arguments against un-Constitutional Gun Control laws, rules and regulations.
The British feared that, absent "gun control", the militias in the colonies could become as "regulated" and fearsome as the British "Regulars" themselves.
Renouncing the great Communist Lie in its older, current and newer forms.
The whole “Communist Dream” is a lie; the history of “Communist Revolution” is a lie; virtually everything about Communism is just one big elaborate flagrant categorical lie.
Our argument supporting the Fair Tax as a sensible and practical Tax Revolution.
Fair Tax presents the possibility of a real, popular, voter-supported, tax payer supported, grass-roots supported Revolution in America, and a radical change for the better.
Argument against Public Education, which is, in fact, Government Indoctrination.
Public Education equals State Indoctrination, pure and simple. Education is beyond the scope of government and not what our government is constituted to do.
Argument against National Health Care, which is, in fact, Socialized Medicine.
National Heath Care equals Socialized Medicine, pure and simple. Medical Practice is beyond the scope of government and not what our government is constituted to do.
Values Versus Ethos: If we are not a Christian people then what the hell are we?
Obama set up the values versus ethos argument. He declared that we are not a Christian nation, but a nation of citizens with “values”. What are these values and where did they come from?
Being pro choice or pro woman's right to choose equals being pro abortion.
Saying you are pro choice, or pro right to choose, is saying you are pro abortion. Period. Pro choice equals pro abortion.
Warning all bourgeoisie: Obama will destroy the middle class.
Take fair warning all bourgeoisie, i.e., members of our vast middle class: the Marxists despise you and intend to conquer you once and for all.
The English national language of the United States of America.
There is no good argument against an English national language for America. What other language should we all speak here?
We argue against income minimums and caps, and for a free and private market.
Income minimums and caps are Marxism’s “moral” bait to gain popular support for Socialism on the path to typical Marxist absolute dictatorship.
Our argument against unions and for a more open and free marketplace.
Arguing against unions and other free market interventions is seeking greater excellence in market goods, services, employees and employers, through free and open competition.
The Thinking Catholic responses to questions re perpetual virginity of Mary.
From the "brothers of the Lord" to "The Davinci Code" to the word "until" in Matt. 1:24-25, the ancient Hebrew cultural notion of Professed Perpetual Virginity is doomed to be repeatedly challenged.
The contentious issue of Infallibility of Papal and Church teaching.
On matters of faith and morals, and matters relating to Divine Revelation, our central Catholic trust is in the Infallibility of the Holy Ghost, Peter, and The Church, acting together.
Our argument against fads, fashions, popular trends and herd instinct.
If speaking against fads makes me square, un-cool or un-hip, then so be it. All fads are, in microcosm, expressions of rebellion against tradition.
What does normalized, mainstreamed, open homosexuality say about us as a people?
Our argument against open homosexuality is an argument for the continuance of Western Civilization, and the Western Culture Ethos and the normative family.
The Marxism of Obama: Marching America into another Socialist dictatorship.
Vic Biorseth describes the self-documented Marxism of Obama which is still not widely recognized among the American citizenry. Obama “change” is Socialism, pure and simple.
Catholic Marriage Annulment: Is it merely the Catholic version of Easy Divorce?
Ecclesial law regarding the Catholic marriage annulment process has not changed, yet the numbers of annulments granted in America have rocketed. Why?
Opposeing affirmative action / equal opportunity programs as racist. Affirmative action (racial preference) requires racial exclusion, which is, definitively, racism.
Against diversity for the sake of diversity. Why do Marxists always seek more?
Our argument against diversity for the sake of diversity, which weakens and ultimately replaces ideology and ethos.
Against political moderation: America was not founded by indecisive moral wimps.
Political Moderation provides neither leadership nor opposition, but merely a moral drag that historically prolongs moral debates and ends up hurting morality.
The Death Penalty: Is our justice system too corrupt to be trusted with it?
The death penalty is too strong a sentence when serious questions exist re the truthfulness of police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and even forensic scientists.
Constitutional America: The argument for a return to basic rule of law. The arguments for a return to the Constitutional America intended by the Fathers and expected by the People through their Representative Government.
The Population Problem: A Real Problem, or a typical Scientistic Myth?
If England has a higher population density than China, and Hong Kong's is higher than Bangladesh, then maybe the real problems are not related to any over - population problem.
Definition of Marxism: Total control of means of production, including workers.
The definition of Marxism describes the social, economic and governmental philosophy of Karl Marx, co-author of the Communist Manifesto.
Anti-American Politics, pure and simple, describe Democrat Party strategy.
Anti-American Politics are practiced by all Leftists. Marxism, at any level, is antithetical to the very idea of America. To be Marxist is to be an anti-American.
The Godless Left leads the young and naive to their utopian Hell.
For an honest comparison of the effects on youth, we need to look to the history of the Godless Left versus the Religious Right.
My anti anti-American arguments are attacks on falsehoods, in support of truth.
American Communists hide their true identity and disguise themselves as anti anti-Communists. Using their playbook, I hereby identify myself as an anti anti-American.
Deliverance From Evil goes to the heart of the hot political debate in America.
Americans increasingly pray and work for deliverance from evil, as they slowly wake up to a threat that is not merely political in nature.
Background history of the recent Catholic reformation (revolution?) in liturgy.
Reform of the Liturgy began with good intentions toward minor changes, yet almost permanently trashed Latin, and Chant, and, etc., etc., etc.
Our definition of pro American goes considerably deeper than the dictionary. Anyone, anywhere, may be a patriot. Definition of pro American: one who loves and adheres to the American Constitution.
Our definition of anti American goes considerably deeper than the dictionary.
Anyone, anywhere, may oppose nationalism or national pride. Definition of anti American: one who ignores or opposes the American Constitution.
Islam is the enemy; the non-Islamic world just dosen't know it yet.
I keep saying that Islam is the enemy here, and you keep not wanting to hear it. But it's true.
A submission of the “The Church is rotten to the core” argument and its basis.
If indeed the church is rotten to the core then all is lost; unless, of course, the statement is untrue.
Our argument opposing Libertarianism as an amoral conservative vote-splitter.
Opposing Libertarianism may seem counter-intuitive until you realize that it’s just another form of moral relativism.
Why is this American Christian nation not called a Christian nation?
This American Christian nation is oddly referred to as something other than a Christian nation. Why?
Argument Against the Anti-American UN: Why do we support such an antagonist?
The staunchly anti-American UN has a major goal involving world governance, and America is in the way of that effort.
Either limit the scope of government or limit citizen liberty.
Scope of government has broadened so much that there is now little of the living of life that is not subject to regulation.
A fatal false premise is a deadly logical trap for the mal-educated person.
A Fatal false premise with broad general consensus will always trump reason, evidence and critical thinking.
Faith versus Atheism: Is atheism really just a silly superstition?
The Faith versus Atheism argument is at the root of every other important argument.
“Are you saved” might be the conversation starter with a devout Protestant.
First, are you saved; then, are you saved by having been “born again” (but not by Baptism) are the two popular questions of Protestantism.
Is the Bible the sole authority for teaching Christianity?
If Holy Scripture is the sole authority for Christian teaching, then, where does it say that in Holy Scripture?
Marxism Socialism Communism – what’s the difference between them all?
Marxism Socialism Communism are all mistakenly held to be different things, but they are one and the same.
Can we outlaw Marxism in the USA and still be a free thinking society?
I say we can and should outlaw any ideology that seeks the elimination of Constitutional America.
Can we outlaw Islam in the USA and still be a free thinking society?
I say we can and should outlaw any ideology that seeks the elimination of Constitutional America.
Is faith alone the sole requirement of salvation?
Luther’s dictum says that man is justified by faith alone. Is it true?
Argument for Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
The Federal Reserve Act did not prevent the Great Depression, so why does it still exist?
Argument to Repeal Amendment XVI, the Income Tax Amendment.
Repeal Amendment XVI and the very idea of progressively taxing income.
Argument to Repeal Amendment XVII and the Politicizing of the Senate.
We need to repeal Amendment XVII and restore our Senate to its original status.
Toward a return to argumentation; the lost art of reasoned verbal combat. A return to argumentation requires a return to critical thinking. Is it too late for Western man?
Secularism is clearly "the enemy" in the culture war; so, what, exactly, is it? Secularism is an aggressive and very pro-active form of atheism, in that it not only disbelieves, but it actively attacks belief itself, on all fronts.
"We belong to the Church militant; and She is militant because on earth the powers of darkness are ever restless to encompass Her destruction. Not only in the far-off centuries of the early Church, but down through the ages and in this our day, the enemies of God and Christian civilization make bold to attack the Creator’s supreme dominion and sacrosanct human rights.”--Pope Pius XII
"It is not lawful to take the things of others to give to the poor. It is a sin worthy of punishment, not an act deserving a reward, to give away what belongs to others."--St. Francis of Assisi
Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.—Winston Churchill
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.—Ayn Rand
If you can't find the page you're looking for, try the