Photo from LIFE photo archive.

Photo from LIFE Magazine archive.

On Thursday, President Obama signed the long delayed Omnibus Spending Bill. He also said that he was going to do something to control earmarks in the future. Congress had attached some 8,000 earmarks in the bill. Each earmark an example of Congresspeople and Senators bringing home the bacon to their respective districts, or of the other guy’s pork barrel spending. John McCain was quite upset that the President signed this pork laden bill, which enables the Federal Government to continue operating, which the last Congress was unable to pass at all. I guess he should have just shut the Government down instead.

When is an earmark bacon and when is it pork? The total cost of the earmarks is less than 2% of the total spending bill. Each of them is for a project that a Congressperson or a Senator asked for in order to benefit that Congresspersons constituents. They go back to their districts and brag about the fine projects that will help the people of their districts, providing much needed jobs, infrastructure or whatever. Republicans do it. Democrats do it. They talk trash about their neighbor’s pork even while they are bragging on their own bacon. Hey, if it smells like bacon it came from a pig. Bacon and pork are indistinguishable.

We can make fun of studies of the sleeping habits of bears in Montana, overhead projectors in Illinois or fish waste processing plants in Mississippi but when you look at individual projects they do seem to be beneficial and not as outlandish as their critics pretend. Maybe the Federal Government should get out of the business of funding school construction, funding research, highway building and job creation. Arizona is doing without, since John McCain refuses to play the game . . . er, he does refuse to bring earmark money to Arizona right?

President Obama wants to bring more transparency to the earmark process but not to eliminate them. He would like to see all earmarks published on a website with the names of their Congressional sponsors attached. It will be interesting to see how that works for him. Congresspeople and Senators loves them some earmarks. They don’t care to have a lot of people looking over their shoulders, though.