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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pork Barrel Spending

One of the biggest sources of market failure in the world is the government. Externalities, public goods and monopolies exist, but are often worsened or even caused by the use of governmental coercion. I'd like to consider just one of these cases that is very popular with the members of the Congress of the United States: pork barrel spending.

Pork barrel spending is spending that is tacked onto more legitimate bills. In order to pass the other bills, Congress must pass the extra payouts as well. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, a website that monitors such spending, an expenditure qualifies as pork if it satisfies at least one of the following criteria from http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_pigbook2008#criteria :

Pork has accounted for $17.2 billion from only 12 Appropriations Acts in 2008. These all use the government's force to collect money to spend on things that rarely correct market failure and actually usually cause it. For specifics, there is a database sorted alphabetically and by dollar amount here: http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_pigbook2008 and members of Congress are rated here: http://www.clubforgrowth.org/2007/03/the_clubs_2006_congressional_s_1.php.

If we could abolish the earmark system and put a stop to pork barrel spending, the economy would be lightened of an enormous load, not only in the money directly spent, but in the resources that would be redirected to production instead of lobbying. Also, many projects that cause market failure would not receive funding. I encourage everyone to consider this and look at pork expenditure records before voting for any federal official.

"One of the biggest sources of market failure in the world is the government."

How about: "One of the biggest sources of inefficiency in the world is the government."

And, thus, government FAILURE is pervasive.
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