Chuck Colson

As Congress debates “ethics reform,” people should press them to end the earmarking process. The status quo simply can’t continue. According to the Congressional Research Service, the amount spent on earmarks has doubled in the last six years.

Besides the waste, there’s the moral question: The job of government, the Bible tells us, is to preserve order and do justice. It’s difficult to see how earmarking accomplishes either. Whether or not a public project contributes to the common good should be debated publicly, not slipped into a piece of legislation behind closed doors.

Of course, that assumes that notions of the common good have any meaning in an era of individual self-gratification. They’d better have, because our noble experiment in limited government and ordered liberty depends on the idea of the “commonweal,” which is a Christian concept. Without this, all government comes to resemble that pasture in Fairmont: an empty, expensive, monument to human pride and greed.

For further reading and information:

Jodi Rudoren, “Congressman’s Special Projects Bring Complaints,” New York Times, 8 April 2006.

Mollohan Story: A Game-Changer?The Hotline, 7 April 2006.

John R. Wilke, “Lawmaker Bought Farm with CEO Who Gained from Appropriations,” Wall Street Journal, 25 April 2006, A1.

No Quid Pro Quo in Land Deal, Says W. Va. Democrat,” Washington Post, 7 April 2006, A06.

BreakPoint Commentary No. 060327, “Ethics? Who Needs Ethics?: Why We Need the Line-Item Veto.”

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
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