Stimulus Waste: Real Life Edition
Way back in the day when the Stimulus was just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper (OK, make that hundreds of pieces of paper and numbers with lots of zeroes), I spent an evening combing through each and every moronic project: a new HHS building, some tanks, crap projects that had been neglected during the "bubble years" and now suddenly seemed important, blah blah blah.
Having clocked nearly 5000 miles from San Francisco to Milwaukee and back in the last week, I am not so happy to report that the Stimulus is just as large of a waste as I feared it was then and have now seen the bizarre road construction funded by it to prove it.
What could I possibly mean?
I mean ripping up perfectly decent roads just to throw cash at construction companies while leaving patched and beaten paths of the Eisenhower Highway System just as bruised as they were in 2003 when I last took the trip across I-80 and back. What good does it do America to repave roads that had a few good years left in them and leave the truly awful pavement completely untouched? Go figure, that's what happens when you let idiot constituents and the federal government decide priorities, I guess.
First and foremost, each one of those shiny Stimulus signs lining the inconvenient orange cones costs a whopping $1200 - good for whomever has been contracted to pump them out, bad for your great-great-grandchildren who will be picking up that tab once, you know, your granchildren and great-grandchildren have paid off the interest on the principal.
I'm cool with a Nebraska town of less than 200 residents getting a sweet bridge to cut down on their wait times as coal trains pass through town (since rail traffic is way up... gas is a bitch these days in case you haven't been paying attention) but what I am not cool with is Stimulus money put to work tearing up perfectly fine freeways just for shits and giggles (and that 15 bazillion DOW we're trying to get to in the meantime). Infrastructure is an improvement and let's face it, we've neglected ours for far too long.
Senator Tom Coburn has an excellent report on wasteful Stimulus projects if you're interested. I don't have the time nor the energy nor the assistants at the ready to put together anything remotely close but hey, maybe there's a secret provision to provide fringe financial bloggers funding to advance their government-bashing agendas? Um, yeah, I didn't wait for Bush's stimulus check and I won't be waiting for that one either.
Though it wasn't on my recent itinerary, look no further than SoCal to find a perfect example of Stimulidiocy: Ripping out and replacing a section of the 710 freeway in the LA area that had actually just been ripped out and replaced in June of 2008. Waste.
Let's try a metaphor to see if we can pound the point home. Viagra was invented for otherwise healthy older men who couldn't get their dicks hard due to the natural, uh, erosion of virility that comes with aging. I'm not opposed to 55-year-olds with raging boners, in fact, more power to them (and especially to their partners and/or right hands, depending...) but there's something fundamentally wrong with a 90-year-old man strutting around with a big pulsing trouser snake staring down his 90-year-old wife who hasn't seen something like that since she accidentally left Cinemax on and passed out on the couch in 1987. Just sayin. The Stimulus is pretty much like feeding Viagra to great-grandpa - some things are best left to nature and certainly need to be thought out before executed (go on, just imagine great-grandpa in that state).
Coming back from the heartland and taking the freeway the entire way, I can say there is more waste at work on America's freeways than cheap Wal-mart cosmetics wasted on 3-year-old Arkansas beauty queens.
Thanks, Mr President!
(Stay tuned for my road trip wrap-up later this week. Love ya, America, and so glad we were able to spend some quality time together outside of the land of Fruits and Nuts!)