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Pork Barrel

PORK BARREL

PORK BARREL. Pork barrel politics consist of trying to obtain appropriations for one's own district. Politicians consider fighting for their constituents' best interests virtuous, but fiscal conservatives, claiming the practice has led to unnecessary investments at taxpayers' expense, use the term in a derogatory manner. "Pork barrel" originally referred to American slaves' rushed attempts to obtain some of the pork given to them as a group in large barrels. The term entered the political vocabulary after the Civil War. Harbor and river improvements were classic examples of pork, later surpassed by defense contracts and highway construction.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ferejohn, John A. Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947–1968. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1974.

Philippe R.Girard

See alsoConservatism ; Interstate Highway System ; Veto, Line-Item .

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pork barrel

pork bar·rel • n. inf. the use of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes: political pork barrel for the benefit of their respective sponsors | [as adj.] wasteful, pork-barrel spending. DERIVATIVES: pork-bar·rel·ing n.

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pork barrel

pork barrel in North America, used in reference to the use of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes. The term, which is recorded from the early 20th century in this sense, refers to the use of such a barrel by farmers, to keep a reserve supply of meat.

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