Bacon: The Key to Compromise and Cooperation

I think I've found something upon which most of us can agree.

Bacon - just about everybody loves it. The #1 food vegetarians say they miss. The smell of bacon cooking drives us nuts, and drives most every other cogent thought from the brain. Bacon. Mmmmm.

I think I've figured out what's wrong with our country, and more importantly, how to fix it. Left and right, men and women, old and young, we can gather around the table and enjoy bacon together. Sure there's lots of varieties these days to suit our many-flavored palate; turkey bacon for the health conscious, tofu bacon for the vegetarian, maple-flavored bacon for the latte set. Surely we have a little bacon for everyone.

The problem is that we've told our elected officials that it's no longer cool to "bring home the bacon." Once upon a time our lawmakers "got things done for the folks back home" by agreeing to trade favors with other lawmakers - you support this in my district, and I'll support that in yours. What made the system work was the bacon grease - the much-maligned and oft-criticized "pork barrel spending".

Sure, that image rightly conjures up a bunch of hogs gorging themselves at taxpayer expense and wasting huge piles of money. But the truth of the matter is, it never came close to adding up to 1% of the annual budget most years. It fixed roads and built bridges (occasionally where none was needed), built museums and factories alike, created corporate entitlement programs such as building unwanted and unrequested military equipment, and funded small and large community improvements that couldn't be met at the community level. A lot of good, some bad.

But maybe what we're seeing now in bitter partisan Capitol gridlock is the consequence of no more bacon The two parties in charge had REASON to work together on myriad issues. They had reason to interact and get to know each other in spite of political, geographical and cultural differences. In these ensuing years since the Congress finally weaned itself off the hog fat, do you think that they have gotten more productive, or less?

Truth is, bacon provided the grease to keep the wheels of government turning, in spite of people occasionally throwing sand in the gears. Now that it's gone, we see the effects - politicians have even less reason to work for a common good. We the partisan people have told them compromise is the 8th deadly sin, and like anyone who likes the good life that doing the people's business provides, they avoid it so they can carry on in comfort. Without bacon, they build walls and hurl bricks at each other over them.

I know. It's wasteful. And their behavior surely doesn't deserve one crumb of bacon. But can you look around your home town or county, and see where that old pork barrel money did some good in your community? It might be worth researching - after all, in the "olden days" politicians bragged about bringing home the bacon. It shouldn't be hard to check.

Maybe it's time to think about giving them back the bacon, while some of them still remember how the gears of progress got lubricated? Would it really be worse than where we're at now?

And please, skip the "Modern-Day Bacon's Rebellion" jokes :)

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