Sunday, October 25, 2009

Compost: Reinvesting In Waste

Since the Stimulus/$800B Pet Project Spending Kit was passed in February, these signs have popped up at tons of road construction projects. At the "strong encourage[ment]" of the federal government, states are spending between $1500 and $2500 per sign to let people know what they already know. Federal and state tax money is paying for this roadwork.

When the phony debate between conservatives and liberals about whether and what kind of stimulus should be passed, many conservatives reconciled themselves to the inevitability of a huge, wasteful spending bill, but hoped that a large portion would be spent on repairing and installing infrastructure - roads, bridges, mass transit. To some extent that has happened, but not to the extent it should have. And it hasn't fulfilled the dubious claim on the above sign of "putting America to work":


So no, people really haven't gotten back to work. In addition to the general waste inherent to bulk spending bills, there may not be a better illustration of conservatives' frustration with government spending than the Spending Bill road signs. Again, everyone is aware that highway repair is funded through tax dollars. There is no reason that extra money needs to be spent to remind people of this. In Georgia, the AJC estimates that the signs, costing between $1,200 and $1,600 apiece, could eat $600,000 of the stimulus funds. Quick math reveals that instead of wasting money on redundant and wasteful signage, $600,000 could be used to provide 20 one-year jobs paying $30,000. Not bad money during a time that the Vice President refers to as a "depression" for most people.

Instead, much like Barack Obama needed to remind people that he won the election with a $170M inauguration, he needs to remind people that his is the hand feeding them with these signs. More money could have gone to repairs or jobs, but the Obama administration has put more money toward sheer waste, including $4,600 for a sign in NY. As is typical of those who want to create a dependency on government, there are reports that stimulus money has been withheld if localities refuse to waste money on signs. After having their pockets picked by the government, people need to kiss the ring to get any of it back.

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