Friday, July 08, 2005

Folks, we are being eaten alive by corruption.

Article Last Updated: 07/07/2005 11:36:33 PM

Ivins: The Duke stir is nothing new in pork-barrel perks

By Molly Ivins
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

.... For those who prefer to contemplate varieties of political corruption in a more systemic way, the current issue of Harper's magazine has a cover article on ''The Great American Pork Barrel: Washington Streamlines the Means of Corruption,'' by Ken Silverstein, which I highly recommend.
Silverstein details the ballooning of the practice called ''earmarks'' in the federal budget. As it is true of much of what is wrong with our politics, the practice is not new - pork barrel politics has a venerable history - but it is spiraling out of control. The same thing has happened with gerrymandering, also an ancient practice, and campaign contributions. They've always been part of politics, it's just that now they are so much more so. Indeed, what have been just deplorable flaws in our system are now eating the whole system - the flaws are getting bigger than the functioning, with the result that serving the public interest is rapidly disappearing.
Silverstein reports on earmarks: ''In the past two decades, the pastime has become breathtaking in its profligacy. Even as the federal deficit soars to record heights, the sums of money being diverted from the treasury have grown ever larger. Last year, 15,584 separate earmarks worth a combined $32.7 billion were attached to the appropriations bills - more than twice the dollar amount in 2001 . . . and more than three times the dollar amount in 1998, when roughly 2,000 earmarks totaled $10.6 billion. The process is so willfully murky that abuse has become not the exception, but the rule.
"Earmarks are added anonymously, frequently during last-minute, closed-door sessions of the appropriations committees. An especially attractive feature for those private interests seeking earmarks is that they are awarded on a noncompetitive basis and recipients need not meet any performance standards."
Folks, we are being eaten alive by corruption.