Not All Pork is the Same

August 11, 2002

by Bruce Walker

The single liberal news reporter in America placed his latest "scoop" a few days ago: Republican congressmen have used their majority status to spend money in their own congressional districts. As the federal budget bloats, how should conservatives view this shocking revelation?

Government spending is inherently inefficient, and federal government spending is more inefficient than local government spending. Conservatives should not celebrate more federal spending, but we also should not assume that Republican and Democrat federal spending are the same: the two differ in fundamental ways.

Democrats use federal funds brazenly to buy voters in ways that make the voters utterly dependent upon Democrat largess. These are voters who will never consider anything except the amount of federal money in any decision that they make in their lives.

Republican "pork" goes to those regions and to those activities that are not dependent classes, and even if the spending could be more economical in a market economy, giving federal support for farmers to farm, ranchers to ranch, small businesses to operate and the like are directed toward making these people independent of federal funds. These are people who naturally chafe at dependency because they find it demeaning, and so these voters are bought and sold by federal subsidies and supports.

Republican "pork" also actually produces goods and services America needs. American farmers are one of the great economic success stories in world history. Industries that extract oil, coal, and other minerals from the ground help America stay secure.

Money on defense and public safety is one area of federal spending that conservatives and Republicans have endeavored to increase for decades because - yes - it is possible to actually have "federal underspending." America receives definite value from money for law enforcement, military bases, fire services and the like. We should be much less worried about "waste" in operating a military base than we should in the benefits of maintaining redundancy in our security infrastructure. We should be much less worried about having too many police patrol cars or prison cells than too few.

Federal dollars pay people to do things: it modifies behavior. Success or failure cannot always be measured in purely financial terms. Federal support for agriculture, for example, encourages fathers to rise early in the morning with sons and do the hard work that farming requires: this builds character. Federal support for welfare encourages mothers to have illegitimate children who grow up watching mother stay at home: this destroys character.

Liberals, not conservatives, want to reduce all values in human life to dollars and cents. We understand that those good Americans who work in jobs that honor the values we treasure may not always be able to justify their work in the monetary cost-effectiveness, but often that is because what they give America is much greater than what we can calculate in money.

There is a reason why big spending Bill Clinton and his cronies did not spend money on the military: he and his liberal pals understood that the cultural and moral values of our men and women in uniform were completely out of touch with his decadent amorality. He could not buy their votes. He cannot buy the votes of a lot of the people who are now - finally - receiving, through Republicans in Congress and the White House, some of the federal dollars than had been going to the latest, failed leftist fad before.

But will this money not corrupt Republicans just like Democrats have been corrupted? Eventually, perhaps, but there are very current indicators of just how immune Republicans are to this sort of bribery. Two important congressional races show which party still has a moral compass.

J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, who would have become Speaker of the House of Representatives in time, gave up a safe Republican seat in the House of Representatives so that he could spend more time with his family and his church. No one seriously doubts that Congressman Watts, a man of great religious faith, meant just what he said. The House may become Democrat because of that decision (although probably not).

Paul Wellstone, the most liberal Democrat in the Senate, twice promised the people of Minnesota that he would only serve two terms in the Senate. Wellstone has now decided that keeping Tom Daschle Plurality Leader of the Senate is just far too important to America, and so he is breaking a pledge he gave twelve and six years ago.

The Democrat Party is increasingly dominated by amoral and secular cynics who think only in terms of buying and selling people and values. The Republican Party - the party of men like J.C. Watts and George W. Bush - values money, but not above all else. Shifting federal dollars toward Republican voters and away from Democrat voters is not perfect government, but it may be shrewd and moral politics.


Bruce Walker has been a dyed in the wool conservative since, as a sixth grader, he campaigned door to door for Barry Goldwater. Bruce has had almost two hundred published articles have appeared in the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Law & Order, Legal Secretary Today, The Single Parent, Enter Stage Right, Citizen's View, The American Partisan, Port of Call, and several other professional and political periodicals.

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For more of Bruce's articles, visit his archives.

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