Pork-Barrel Politics

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DEFINITION of 'Pork-Barrel Politics'

A slang term used when politicians or governments "unofficially" undertake projects that benefit a group of citizens in return for that group's support or campaign donations. This spending mostly benefits the needs of a small select group despite the fact that the entire community's funds are being used.

Also referred to as "patronage".

BREAKING DOWN 'Pork-Barrel Politics'

For example, let's say a city has a large number of potholes, spread evenly throughout its communities. If the mayor took campaign contributions from a group of wealthy residents in exchange for a promise to fix the potholes in their neighborhood first, this would be pork-barrel politics.

One possible derivation for the phrase comes from the practice of country stores keeping a barrel of salted pork open and available to the public. Certain high-ranking citizens would come by daily to dip into this common fund.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. How can data assist operations management in increasing efficiency?

    Pork barrel politics affect the economy in several ways. Pork barrel spending occurs when the government earmarks funds to ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Where did the phrase "pork barrel" come from?

    Use of the phrase "pork barrel" dates back to 1863 and was initially used in reference to any money that a government spent ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How are earmarks and pork barrel spending related?

    Both earmarks and pork barrel spending involve spending money on certain projects or specific events. Projects paid for by ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are some examples of "pork barrel politics" in the United States?

    So-called "pork barrel politics" has been present in the United States' legislative and, to a lesser degree, executive branches ... Read Full Answer >>
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