The key, of course, is for the earmarking process to be open and transparent—just the way Senator Lugar and others advocate.
It's fairly common practice these days for lawmakers to make public their earmark proposals on their congressional websites, there for any interested taxpayers to see.
The alternative, of course, is to abandon earmarks, leaving more funding decisions to the managers of programs in the federal agencies.
To be fair, most such managers with such authority seek to use it wisely, often making their decisions based on strenuous competitive programs, or by expert peer-review.
Lugar calls such an approach nothing less than a surrender of constitutional authority.
The administrative approach also centralizes power in Washington, which I thought, is what the tea party people were against.
To my mind, however honestly and rigorously federal managers seek to apportion funding, they aren't as directly accountable to the taxpayer as members of Congress are through direct election.
Earmark opponents, of course, love to point to the more ridiculous earmarks, such as the famous "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska, which carried a price tag of nearly $400 million.
No decision-making ever carried out by human beings, any human beings, is, frankly, without some fault.
In the end, though, that Alaska bridge earmark couldn't stand up to the smell test and Congress pulled its funding. And isn't that what accountability is supposed to be about?
So let's have a grand debate about the federal budget. But let's forget this foolishness about blaming earmarks, which actually are the most constitutional means of dividing up whatever size federal pie we end up having.