Kenneth Ruscio

Recent Articles

Pork and the Public Interest

How conservatives read their own cynicism into public life.

Communities sharing "languages of good and evil" are more likely to be bound together by a stronger glue than those based merely on shared self- interest. --Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man Pork barrel politics has acquired odd, new bedfellows. In a recent issue of the Public Interest , John W. Ellwood and Eric M. Patashnik extol--of all things--the congressional trough. Their gambit is to persuade the reader that individual members of Congress are hopelessly inclined to vote for narrow interests rather than a broader public interest. The benefits of the pork barrel are concentrated, they argue, while the benefits of fiscal prudence are diffuse. "The result has been the creation of a political climate in which elected officials believe that the only way they can bring the nation back to fiscal health is to injure their own electoral chances." This being the case, they propose: let's be realistic. Why not let congressmen have modest slices of pork for their...