When the history of this awful moment of bailout hysteria is written, there'll be a chapter or 20 on the complete bogosity of what might call "the infrastructure flim-flam"—the idea that government can boostrap the economy out its funk by hiring two guys to dig a hole and a couple more to fill it in.
Don't you see? It's the perfect plan!, as Batman's Riddler might exclaim. In fact, one only wonders why they don't hire three guys to fill the holes, thereby cutting unemployment to negative-something.
Then again, taxing Peter to pay Paul to build a parking deck with solar panels for Mary just might not be the sort of economic activity that, you know, accomplishes anything other than creating even more inefficient and generally non-productive public-sector spending with a major administrative dead-weight loss on the top.
Who cares, though, right, because the important thing, in the words of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and countless others, is that we don't just stand there, do something! And when it comes to wasting taxpayer money on what used to be called make-work projects, the nation's mayors are true visionaries. From a CBS4 account:
Stressing that investing in Main Street will help Wall Street, the nation's mayors have gathered in Washington D.C. to push for emergency federal aid to fund infrastructure projects.
Led by U.S Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, the mayors, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaigosa, will release their second report on a number of local 'ready-to-go' infrastructure projects, those which can be started and completed in two years, if the emergency funding were made available.
According to the report, the 'ready to go' projects include Community Development Block Grants, transit, highway infrastructure, green jobs, school modernization, public safety and public housing.
And if you want to crash your browser with over 4MB (and 803 PDF pages) of hot steaming pork projects laid out in loving, excrutiating, and blood-pressure-popping detail by the United States Conference of Mayors, then look upon this document and abandon all hope.
Among the highlights:
- a proposed "O'Malley Road Reconstruction" in Anchorage, Alaska, that will cost $30 million but provide 300 (count 'em!) jobs;
- a Gadsen, Alabama "Hoke Street Sidewalk Construction to serve new Department of Human Resources facility" that's a real steal at $150,000 but will take almost surviving members of the Allman Brothers Band off the public dole (at last!);
- Police Facility Solar Panels for Lake Havasu City, Arizona, for only $400,000 and 75 jobs;
- Stormwater Settlement Ponds for Beloit, Wisconsin for $1,428 million and five whole jobs, which will feed a family of four in the Badger State, especially if they only eat government cheese;
And, literally, so much more it's virtually impossible to document.
But the mayors have. Don't you know that the Columbia Avenue storm sewer in St. John, Indiana needs "additional capacity" (and it will only cost $275,000 and provide 15 Hoosiers good, decent jobs)? Or that Manhattan, Kansas can finally (finally!) coordinate the traffic lights on Fort Riley Boulevard for a measly $71,250 (sure it will add only one job to the economy, but one is almost twice as much as zero when you think about!)? And that for barely over $4 million, Atlanta, Georgia can install "reflective or green roofing" on unspecified buildings, thus becoming the Reflective or Green Roofing Capital of the United States, or at least the Southeastern United States? Maybe the lights will really go out in Georgia, but Hotlanta will be keeping cooler than ever.
Am I the only American saddened by such bushwah? I hope not, even as I acknowledge that perhaps I am the only American outside of Silver City, New Mexico wondering why Silver City, New Mexico didn't ask for more than $60,000 for the "creation of Economic Developer position to service entire county."
I mean, seriously, why didn't the idiots there read their Bastiat, the great 19th century economist, and petition the government for I don't know, like a bazillion dollars for a "Window Breaker to break windows for the entire county"?
Don't you see how it works? All those broken windows will mean work for the glazier, who will then buy bread (which means work for the baker!), who will then buy solar panels (which means works for the solar panel guys!), who will then drive more on Fort Riley Blvd. (which will mean more acccidents on the street, thus increasing demand for traffic light coordinators, who will buy cars...).
Skim the mayors' begging petition, then read your Bastiat. Then go to sleep and pray that you wake up and it's December 2000 and the Supreme Court rules differently in that year's presidential contest.
And laugh for 23 seconds as the ultimate statement on phoney-baloney jobs is made in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles: