A Thought on Political Corruption
(Since 1976) "earmarks increased from a handful to thousands of provisions slipped into bills. These appropriations were not 'approved' by Congress in any meaningful sense of the word. They were just stuck into bills at the behest of one or two members, and the entire bill was passed without anyone but the sponsors knowing they were in there. Or caring. A study by the Congressional Research Service in 2006 found that the federal budget in fiscal 2005 had 16,072 earmarks by its definitions, up from 4,203 in the first year of its survey, 1994.
The nakedness of the quid pro quos implicit in earmarks became a national scandal. As I write, a moratorium on earmarks passed in 2010 is still in effect. It is unclear how much of the earmark effort has been converted to alternative methods.
Washington is still not nearly as corrupt as real kleptocracies such as Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, or Sudan. The people who run Washington are generally more honest, more committed to the public good, and less thuggish than the officials in a real kleptocracy. The proportional size of the take in Washington is far less than the take in a real kleptocracy. But the parallels in the ways that Washington and kleptocracies operate are many and troubling."
~ Charles Murray
Source: page 96, Murray's latest book, "By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission."
p.s., The CRS study mentioned above is CRS memorandum, dated January 26, 2006, from the "CRS Appropriations Team," and bears the subject: Earmarks in Appropriation Acts: FY1994, FY1996, FY1998, FY2000, FY2002, FY2004, FY2005. HT Federation of American Scientists. Footnotes in the original quote not included above.