Most Americans seem willing to accept a little so-called porking in their governments. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Americans may finally be ready to tell Congress and the President that 'enought is enough.' David Keating of the National Taxpayers Union points to two Washington Post opinion pieces this week, which use language rarely seen, especially on the editorial pages of the Washington Post. On Tuesday, he notes, the Post editorialized "Like looters who seize six televisions when their homes have room for only two, the Louisiana legislators are out to grab more federal cash than they could possibly spend usefully."
That was followed-up the next day by an opinion column by the Post's Anne Applebaum that has to warm the hearts of even the most ardent advocate of low taxes and limited government as she describes "the Louisiana congressional delegation's new request for $250 billion in hurricane reconstruction funds." She writes: "In its scale and sheer disregard for common sense, the Louisiana proposal breaks new ground. But I don't want to single out Louisiana. After all, the state's representatives are acting logically . . . They are playing by the rules of the only system for distributing federal funds that there is, and that system allocates money not according to the dictates of logic, but to the demands of politics and patronage." After citing the "obvious boondoggles such as federal transportation spending," she asks whether it is time to stop calling pork pork, and then closes with: "As I say, corruption comes in many forms. But whatever form it comes in, it will be easier for voters to identify if it's called by its true name."
In the same vein, Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute also discusses decisions made in the aftermath of Katrina to reduce "foolish regulations and trade barriers. He notes that "(s)uch corrupt payoffs to interest groups raise the cost of production and the cost of living, making the rest of us poorer." All of this comes on top of such foolishness as FEMA's decision to spend over $200 million to hire cruise ships to house hurricane relief workers, described in this Washington Post news article.
David Therous writes in introducing Robert Higgs' book, Crises & Leviathan, "the main reason for such growth lies in government’s responses to national “crises” (real or imagined), including economic upheavals (e.g., the Great Depression) and especially wars (e.g., Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Cold War, etc.). The result is ever increasing state power, which endures long after each crisis has passed--fostering extensive corporate welfare and pork, raising taxes, and undermining civil and economic liberties and economic growth. Moreover, crises are usually the creation of earlier government interventions and the flouting of constitutional law. Thus, government action begets further government action in an endless 'death spiral.'"