Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Is Pork Barrel?

I know that this recent public washing of linen all boils down into a thing called PORK BARREL, but I really wonder about the literal reference of this phrase. I asked a few people around who might be able to suffice my nosiness before it all became a dirty slogan among the protesters and a sickening headline among the news. While I scratched my head hard, they neither really know the answer.

The recently scandalized term pork barrel is also known as Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF in our country. It is a monetary budget allocated for each congressman to spend on projects or any matter where it is due without going through budgetary process. If you are a teacher, you would surely relate it to Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses or MOOE of a school.

I browsed some articles and here are some highlights of the things that I learned with regard to the origin of the term. They are really eye opener.

The term originated from the time when refrigeration was not yet a household thing for keeping pork and it was preserved in big wooden barrel of brine. The political usage may have been taken from the distribution of ration of salt pork to slaves in the plantation.  

A journalist C. C. Maxey commented that oftentimes the eagerness of slaves would result to rush upon pork barrel in which every slave would strive to grab for himself. Our modern day politicians, in their eagerness to take their local appropriation items, behaved so much the same as the slaves would for pork in the barrel.

Moreover, a barrel of pork is also used in the olden times as a measure of social status of a family. An eighteen hundreds literary document, for example, J. S. Cooper once wrote "I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel."

As I write and read this post, the picture that came in my mind from the metaphor above is that of a bunch of greedy politicians wearing a decent barong but in the middle of a stampede in the court with the others who are equally hungry, although not every one, to take the money of the people into their own pockets and cases.

I wonder how these same money we pay as our taxes could have helped so many needy people in our country if our politicians were just honest at all times. It's really a dirty business in a race of dogs, and a really dirty picture I can visualize.

How about you?