This morning Glenn Beck used a propaganda trick to bully a Ron Paul supporter into silence. Glenn Beck’s point was Ron Paul’s voting for earmarks. For some reason Glenn Beck believes this proves that Ron Paul is a corrupt politician.
Now, Glenn Beck can believe anything about Ron Paul he wants, it is his Constitutional right. And he can depend financially on Bain Capital and Mitt Romney as much as he wants, it is his Constitutional right.
But the earmark issue needs to be addressed, constitutionally. Glenn Beck hasn’t read the Constitution carefully, if he thinks that earmarks mean corruption.
When it comes to Federal spending there are two issues involved:
1. How much is being spent.
2. How it is being spent, and who decides.
On the first issue, how much is being spent, Ron Paul has consistently voted against increases in spending. He is Dr. No, after all. But he has been a lonely voice, and usually outvoted by both Republicans and Democrats who all want higher and higher spending that got us into this mess.
On the second issue, how it is being spent, there are two options:
a) The money is not earmarked, that is, it is not allocated by Congress.
This means that a big chunk of Federal money is left to the administration to decide how to spend. Since the Presidency seldom looks into every dime that is spent, the unassigned money is left to unelected, nameless, unaccountable bureaucrats to spend. This is a wide road to corruption, and in most cases the money is misallocated. Bureaucrats usually prefer to spend that money abroad, especially for war contractors, because in that case tracking corruption is much harder than when the money is spent at home. May be that’s why the US has the highest cost for wars that only bring meager results. No earmarks equals corruption, on a grand scale.
b) The money is earmarked, that is specifically assigned by Congress to the purposes it is supposed to go.
This has two advantages: First, the accountability rests on elected representatives who are public figures, personally. People can then hold a representative directly responsible for the misallocation of money. This is not possible when a nameless bureaucrat is allowed to spend the money. Second, when all Federal money is earmarked, it becomes obvious if the Federal budget is really too big or too small. This is called good accounting and responsible stewardship: not spending money if there is no need for it. And how do we know if there is a need for it: when all money is allocated to specific projects by Congress.
But it has one even greater advantage: It is Constitutional. The Constitution mentions nothing about any financial prerogatives of the Executive branch of government. It specifically says the following in Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts…
To pay the Debts means to pay those that have rendered services to the Federal government. This is what Federal spending is all about. A contractor is assigned to do a certain job. The US is indebted to him after the job is done. Then the Congress pays its Debts. Not the Executive. Not the bureaucracy. Not some clerk in some department. Congress.
Which means that contrary to Glenn Beck’s propaganda, every dime of Federal spending should be earmarked. Of course, this will not erase corruption; most Representatives are corrupt themselves (as are many TV and radio hosts). But at least we will know who is corrupt and who is not; and we will be able to hold them accountable. And when Ron Paul votes for earmarks, he is not involved in corruption, he is only doing what is the only valid Constitutional practice concerning Federal spending: earmark it all, as is per the Constitution. He tries to make at least part of that Federal money that was voted by the big-government socialists of both parties to be spent according to the Constitution.
In other words, Glenn Beck needs to learn the Constitution and what it says about Federal spending. He can still oppose Ron Paul, that’s fine. But at least he needs to do it on a better moral ground, and with better education.