Cheese Factories on the Moon: Why Earmarks Are Good for American Democracy

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In recent years, special congressional appropriations—“earmarks”—have become synonymous with wasteful government spending and corruption. In this timely, provocative, and highly-readable book Frisch and Kelly challenge the conventional wisdom arguing that earmarks are good for American democracy. They argue that the Founders of the American republic invested the power of the purse in the U.S. Congress to ensure that spending would reflect the priorities of constituents and to balance the legislature against the executive branch of government. Using extensive interviews with Washington insiders and well-developed examples they:

• Illustrate how earmark projects that were highly pilloried responded to the needs of local communities that would otherwise go unaddressed by unelected bureaucrats.
• Demonstrate how the “selfish” motives of members of Congress can produce spending that benefits the nation.
• Argue that lobbyists—far from corrupting the earmark process—provide valuable services to groups seeking earmarked funds, and help members of Congress and their staff navigate the appropriations process.
• Take a critical look at media coverage of earmarks and argue that trends in media coverage lead to superficial and hyper-dramatic coverage of the earmark process.
• Explain why the number of earmarks has surged over the last fifteen years.
• Assess recent reforms in Congress and explain why recent reforms aimed at increasing transparency will not result in greater public trust.

Cheese Factories on the Moon is a much-needed challenge to a widespread but deeply flawed “consensus” about what is wrong with congressional appropriations earmarks.

Please visit the authors' website here: Cheese Factories on the Moon

And don't miss Professor Sean Kelly's appearance on the PBS News Hour: PBS News Hour

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
I’m a fan and am delighted to see such a book—at just the right moment in the debate about earmarks.
—Mickey Edwards
I’m a fan and am delighted to see such a book—at just the right moment in the debate about earmarks.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594517310
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott A. Frisch is Professor of Political Science at California State University, Channel Islands. He and Sean Kelly have coauthored several books, including, most recently, Jimmy Carter and the Water Wars: Presidential Influence and the Politics of Pork (Cambria Press, 2008).

Sean Q Kelly is Professor of Political Science at California State University, Channel Islands. He earned his BA in Political Science from Seattle University in 1986 and his PhD in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1992. He is a former APSA Congressional Fellow serving as a policy analyst for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

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