The government of our country has become increasingly incompetent, corrupt, and dysfunctional. Although Barack Obama has certainly hastened our government's slide toward mediocrity, the problems didn't begin with him, nor are they likely to end on the very happy day when he leaves office.
Moreover, many of the issues that prevent our government from operating at even the sub-optimal quasi-effectiveness of the Feds at their best are very difficult to solve. Still, until you identify the problems, it's difficult to come up with the solutions. So, let's talk about some of the reasons why government in this country no longer works for the benefit of the American people.
Earmarks: When earmarks first became a hot issue during the Bush years, I have to admit that I was one of the people who shrugged my shoulders and said something like, "Sure, that's something we should work on, but is it really all that important compared to the money we spend on entitlement programs?"
Let me tell you why I was wrong: Earmarks have become a means of legalized bribery. We get all upset about politicians who are tied in any way, shape, or form to Jack Abramoff -- but what Abramoff did goes on every day of the week. Where Abramoff blew it was by explicitly saying, "I'll get you this much money and you'll do this for me." Yet, lobbyists do the exact same thing all the time, but they just don't say it out loud. They give money to congressmen and expect to get earmarks in return. They do, in fact, get the earmarks they paid for -- and it's perfectly legal.
Keep in mind that although you can find earmarks stretching way back until the earliest days of the country, using them as a form of congressional payola is relatively new. Just to give you one example, courtesy of Americans for Prosperity:
Taxpayers for Common Sense calculated that the 1970 Defense Appropriations Bill had a dozen earmarks; the 1980 bill had 62 earmarks; and by 2005, the defense bill had skyrocketed to 2,671 earmarks.
As earmarks have proliferated, Abramoff-style government has gone from being the exception to the rule in Congress.
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