Glenn Reynolds links this Examiner report about Senate Republicans who still support pork projects, even those designed to help Democrats. Sixteen Republican Senators wouldn't even vote to kill three Harlem projects inserted by Charlie Rangel and named for him.
I am as offended by this sort of pork as anybody. If Bill Gates wants to fund a building and have it named after himself, great. But it is outrageous that members of Congress get to use taxpayer money to name projects after themselves. If Charlie Rangel or Robert Byrd or any other politician wants to name a project after himself, he ought to damn well pony up the cash out of his own pocket. Not mine.
Glenn Reynolds says our politicians "lack essential self-discipline." Perhaps so, but I am suspicious of the claim that we'd be in better shape if only we had "better people" in office. That's always the claim about socialism -- if only they had been better, more virtuous people, socialism would work. No it wouldn't -- socialism will fail no matter how virtuous the officials. We have the politicians we have, and they are responding to the incentives offered them.
Let me propose a different culprit: United States Constitution, Amendment XVI. The income tax amendment. Once the federal government got easy access to all of our pockets, it was inevitable that politicians would take money from the citizens and use that money to try to get reelected. Pork barrel spending is the inevitable consequence of the sort of government we have. And until people decide they don't need or want this kind of big government, we're stuck with it.