Talk:Pork barrel

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Inclusion in Wikipedia[edit]

Isn't this just a jargon-file style dictionary entry? --Robert Merkel 00:20 Jan 6, 2003 (UTC)

Err, no? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Matthew Woodcraft (talkcontribs) 00:22, 6 January 2003
This is only one example of Pork barrel, this is not a definition. If we're going to include this article, we need a more extensive article. -- Zoe 01:50, 6 January 2003
Are you volunteering? ;)2toise 13:47, 16 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Fixed link[edit]

Fixed link formatting for "Americans for Prosperity", and changed the adjective "grassroots" to "conservative" for accuracy. Scribelrus 11:23, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

I didn't realize that grassroots and conservative were mutually exclusive. Both words are prominently visible on their website, so unless there is a specific reason to believe that they are not a grassroots campaign, this is more a change for political taste than it is for accuracy.

My removal[edit]

I removed "pork barrel spending contributes significantly to government deficits"--the lack of specificity and use of weasel word "significantly" make this almost meaningless, and highly contestable. Meelar (talk) 22:24, Apr 3, 2005 (UTC)


I learned in a social problems class that pork barrel means to try to pass a bill that is so stuffed with laws that a politician wouldn't see the extra laws. I'm not sure how to explain it really. Is this true? Jaberwocky6669 | Holla! 01:52, 10 October 2005 (UTC)


alternate origin?[edit]

I heard that the term came from slave masters giving their slaves barrels of pork and taking pleasure in seeing them fight for it. I guess the analogy would be politicians fighting for money? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) , 17:05, 9 November 2004 (UTC)

I included a link to the Maxey article giving the slavery origin. Maxey gives no source for the story, however, and the word was in use in a political sense for more than 45 years before anybody mentioned this origin, nor is there any record of this practice from the days of slavery or from the half-century following abolition. It is almost certainly a later fabrication. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:15, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

The absence of records for the slavery origin before 1919 is a matter of fact: no earlier mention of the practice is contained in any article in the Proquest newspaper database, Newspaper Archive, the Making of America collection, Google Books, or any other scholarly archive, though the term was in use in a political sense for at least 45 years before this date. It is irresponsible to mention the Maxey story without qualifying it, as if this were a matter of accepted fact. Gasala (talk) 19:25, 30 September 2008 (UTC)


Removed this phrase: The term was first used in print by E.K. Hale for his story called "Pork Barrel", published in 1865 by Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. It is derived from the practice of slaveowners giving barrels of salted pork to slaves and watching the "feeding frenzy" the slaves subsequently engaged in. [1] as someone has written being unable to find references for this (the website referenced is a web journalist.) The OED says 1909, in the Westminster Gazette, for first use. Mindspillage (spill yours?) 05:27, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

I very slightly copy-edited the quote based on the text from the Online OED. Just wanted to let you know that I was actually basing that on the text and not just copy-editing for the sake of copy-editing. :)HorsePunchKid 06:52, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Origin required[edit]

(moved all discussion of origin under this top level heading)

There is no discussion of the origin of the term in the article now. Can we add something? Is the slave owner origin the correct and only origin of the term? Suspect it goes back further... Donama (talk) 23:45, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

World view[edit]

United States focus[edit]

This article addresses the United States exclusively. I changed the lead to "used to describe United States government spending", someone please correct me if it's not accurate. 119 13:10, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I added a

citation. My concerns/suggestsion:

  • Use of the term in other societies - This section is titled and written as though Wikipedia is written for Americans. Granted this term originated in the U.S. and still primarily refers to American politics but this section still should not be written this way.
  • Is it perhaps correct to merge this with the patronage article? It is not clear that pork barrel and patronage really refer to different things. The implication seems to be that pork barrel refers to special interest spending in the U.S. whereas patronage refers to such spending outside the U.S. I'm not sure that is a sufficient distinction to justify two articles (and tends to give the U.S. a "special" standing which does not seem appropriate).

--Mcorazao 16:33, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Patronage is jobs for important though perhaps unqualified people, while the pork barrel is money from the center applied to matters of local interest. US President James Garfield, for example, died for patronage, not pork. Jim.henderson 16:06, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
I removed the tag, because while there is a reference to the term having spread to other countries, nonetheless the article does indicate that the term originated in American use and that's what it should primarily be about. I disagree with it being combined with patronage as there is plenty to differentiate it, and the term is so widely used. I might recommend moving this article to "Pork barrel politics" however as that's the more common useage. 23skidoo 11:50, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
I've re-added the tag, because the main body is US-focused and "other countries than the United States" is equally US-focussed, also what's in that section is vague and not "fleshed out". This is a very common term in Canadian politics and I believe also in the UK and Oz....and there's a clear distinction between pork barrel (in Canada, also just called "pork" or "the trough") and patronage; patronage is the appointment of political apparatchiks to plush positions, including our appointed Senate. Pork barrel is when a government member (of parliament/the legislature) - typically a cabinet member - directs public spending to their own riding (electoral district). It's so insitutionalized in CAnada it's come to be expected, and is in fact why people often vote for their member, because of promises made to get this or that funding; really that funding is often directed at campaign backers, typically companies or companies owned by individual backers; IMO members are really just bagmen. Patronage on the other hand is more like nepotism and often indistinguishable. Too many articles on Wikipedia are written as if US usage was the central definition/story, and that's just not right: "pork barrel in countries outside the United STates" or whatever that section title is underlines that bias, rather than removes it; the globalize template should stand until this is rectified.Skookum1 (talk) 01:01, 7 September 2010 (UTC)


Why is this considered a bad thing? What kind of person in his right mind, other than a communist, would give everything equally to everyone, instead of favoring those he feels are the best and/or would make the best use of it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:47, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I would imagine that it is considered bad because in many cases things are given to a small group of people to serve a narrow self interest, for example provide a big spending project in a political marginal constituency to ensure their support in a future election . Franny-K (talk) 14:44, 30 August 2008 (UTC)


All the examples given here are negative ones. Are there really no examples that may have been consider pork barrel spending at a time and fulfills all the definitions of significant pork barrel spending but which is now widely consider to have been a very good thing? Nil Einne (talk) 07:06, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Barrel which pork is kept in[edit]

Is this really necessary?

I would've thought that to anyone with even half a brain that was obvious. There's no beef barrel article about barrels containing beef, and all this does is detract from the political meaning of the phrase. --Elfbadger (talk) 19:20, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

  • I believe it is necessary to state that the term has a meaning other than the political and the term used today derived from that. Perhaps we should be specifying salt-pork. I am against against removal of the definition but would be OK about reordering or further explanation.--Matilda talk 23:23, 31 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Perhaps it should go at the end of the article then? This phrase is obviously a matter of context. You're not going to hear it on a political programme and think they're talking about meat storage. Its most commom use is surely the political one, so I think it should take precedence.--Elfbadger (talk) 14:09, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
    • Please see my attempt to rework the lead. It was indeed a matter of meat storage -> gift -> political gifts and I think the lead needs to incorporate the derivation promptly to help an outsider make sense of the term. --Matilda talk 22:48, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
      • It's better, certainly. It still doesn't sit right with me though. However, in the absence of a better suggestion, I'll give up. --Elfbadger (talk) 14:09, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
      • I don't think the word "pork" can be a synonym for "politician", but in fact "pork-barrel" or "earmark" bills are so inconceivable in Europe that there would be just named as corruption.( (talk) 19:29, 16 November 2010 (UTC))


The article was tagged in August 2007 for POV, need of an expert on the subject, cleanup and refimprove. No comments were made on this talk page by the tagger. I suggest that in the case of references specific cites should be sought given that there are 6 references provided. I see no need for an expert, can't imagine where such an expert might come from. Without comments I don't understand what the POV issues are or what cleanup is required. Accordingly I am removing the tag pending clarification.--Matilda talk 23:31, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Big Dig Citation[edit]

I am considering removing the part in the article referencing the price per square mile of the Big Dig, as it is partly false and not in the source. The Big Dig did more than just put part of Route 93 underground, it also extended the mass pike to logan airport (underwater) and also had route 93 and route 1 run concurrently across the charles river as opposed to splitting them apart earlier. This is a perfect example of pork barrel spending and earmarks, just the information given there (including the costs) does not include everything that was done.

There is no supporting evidence in the article as to why the Big Dig is pork. The definition refers to government appropriation of funds to benefit a specific population (and typically refers to legislative attempts to do so and does not include monies spent as part of executive branch spending programs). There is no reference to either public money being spent, federal money being spent (one could argue that it benefits Massachusetts generally and thus any state money would not be pork) or that it was specifically legislatively appropriated. These could in fact be the case, but a public works project that was merely expensive and got more expensive does not pork make. I'll remove later if no one objects.--Conor Kenny (talk) 21:33, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

hi — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:51, 26 September 2011 (UTC)


Are earmarks and pork barrel politics cyclical in any way, or at least in a way that would justify a hatnote from Pork cycle? --Damian Yerrick (talk | stalk) 04:00, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Our work shown on national television. Keep it up.[edit]

Last night on the Solar News Channel (Philippines) there was a story on pork barrel and this page was shown during some b-roll. Congratulations editors. Keep up the good work. --Iloilo Wanderer (talk) 03:57, 17 September 2013 (UTC)