Stimulus As Usual

Over at National Review, a nice breakdown of some of the foolishness embedded in the current stimulus package, with particular focus on the sort of foolishness that tends to irk the right. Some details:

The National Endowment for the Arts, for example, is in line for $50 million, increasing its total budget by a third....sure enough, there is $5.2 billion for community-development block grants and “neighborhood stabilization activities,” which ACORN is eligible to apply for. Finally, the bill allocates $650 million for activities related to the switch from analog to digital TV, including $90 million to educate “vulnerable populations” that they need to go out and get their converter boxes or lose their TV signals. Obviously, this is stimulative stuff: Any economist will tell you that you can’t get higher productivity and economic growth without access to reruns of Family Feud.....

One theme in this bill is superfluous spending items coated with green sugar to make them more palatable. Both NASA and NOAA come in for appropriations that properly belong in the regular budget, but this spending apparently qualifies for the stimulus bill because part of the money from each allocation is reserved for climate-change research.....

The problem with trying to spend $1 trillion quickly is that you end up wasting a lot of it. Take, for instance, the proposed $4.5 billion addition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget. Not only does this effectively double the Corps’ budget overnight, but it adds to the Corps’ $3.2 billion unobligated balance—money that has been appropriated, but that the Corps has not yet figured out how to spend......

Speaking of spending money unwisely, the stimulus bill adds another $850 million for Amtrak, the railroad that can’t turn a profit. There’s also $1.7 billion for “critical deferred maintenance needs” in the National Park System, and $55 million for the preservation of historic landmarks. Also, the U.S. Coast Guard needs $87 million for a polar icebreaking ship—maybe global warming isn’t working fast enough.....

The state-bailout fund has a built-in provision to channel the money to the Democrats’ most reliable group of campaign donors: the teachers’ unions. The current bill requires that a fixed percentage of the bailout money go toward ensuring that school budgets are not reduced below 2006 levels. Given that the fastest-growing segment of public-school expense is administrators’ salaries—not teachers’ pay, not direct spending on classroom learning—this is a requirement that has almost nothing to do with ensuring high-quality education and everything to do with ensuring that the school bureaucracy continues to be a cash cow for Democrats.

The whole piece is worth reading, full of particular figures from a process that is clearly less about stimulus and more about ramming in everyone and their uncle's union's spending wish list in a monstrous package with a vetting process even more slapdash and thoughtless than usual when our politicians are spending (our grandchildren's) money.

Link via the always very useful Rational Review.

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  • ||

    Go sign the petition at nostimulus.com then call your senator. It's for the children!

  • ||

    The problem with trying to spend $1 trillion quickly is that you end up wasting a lot of it.

    Paging the Media!

  • ed||

    you can't get higher productivity and economic growth without access to reruns of Family Feud

    I'm thinking that those few Americans without cable or the foresight to purchase a $40 converter box are watching Jerry Springer, Oprah and Judge Shanita.

  • ||

    These stimuli, once grafted to the budgets of absurd wastes like NEftA become create the new BASELINE BUDGETS WHICH WILL BE BOOSTED AGAIN NEXT BUDGET CYCLE. I'm bleeding from my ears, nose, eyes over this abject stupidity, cupidity and outright theft. Yet DC plows ahead determined to truly bankrupt and destroy us and bury our promises to our progeny.

  • ||

    A'int it a shame that the GOP expended so much of their capital by backing Sen. Steven's bridge to nowhere? Of course, political parties with a spine get supported to the tune of, what, 1%?

  • ||

    It's CHANGE I tell ya!!

  • ed||

    The Senate Dems probably have enough votes right now to pass this thing, but they're scared shitless to proceed without substantial Republican support. This ambivalence demonstrates just how confident they really are in this bill, despite their hysterical claims to the contrary.

  • Mad Max||

    From the National Review article, it seems that once the most egregious Democratic pork is removed from the bill (and probably transferred to the budget bill), then the neocons will be for it, likewise the Republican "opposition."

    One possible scenario is a Democrat bill versus a Repub bill, and a compromise bill which takes a middle course between the true extremes. Say, for instance, the Democrat bill would spend a shitload of money on a bailout, with tasty pork for ACORN and the NEA, while the Repub bill would spend a shitload of money on a bailout with money for extra nipple clamps to force doctors to reveal who they prescribed cannabis to. The 'compromise' will be to spend a shitload of money on a bailout, with less pork for Dems and Reps, or at least a better balance of pork, like NEA subsidies *plus* nipple clamps for pain doctors.

  • Mad Max||

    middle course between the *two* extremes

  • Mad Max||

    And the Democrats will insist that the electricity powering the nipple clamps be run on green energy.

  • ||

    nipple clamps for pain doctors

    I had no idea you were so kinky, Max.

  • ||

    I had no idea you were so kinky, Max.

    Get a clue, Vanilla McBoringSex. Mad Max lives in a world dominated by men in assless chaps. I've always known he was kinky.

  • Johnny Nowhere||

    Unfathomably, the Republicans are unconcerned at the vast icebreaker gap that currently exists between the US and Russia.

    The Russians have 7 ships, the US only 3. The Russians' ships are larger, nuclear powered, and can break thicker ice.

    With it's vast fossil fuels deposits the Arctic sure to become a political hotspot. US possession of those resources could go a long way to ensuring energy independence. Why don't Republicans want our country to be secure?

  • zoltan||

    Icebreaker Stimulus Act of 2009!

  • ||

    Get a clue, Vanilla McBoringSex. Mad Max lives in a world dominated by men in assless chaps. I've always known he was kinky.

    Look, just because your wife violates you with a strap-on doesn't make you Mr. ExcitingSex.

    And I thought Max was all about the hirsute girls (and nipple clamps, apparently).

  • ||

    I can't believe we're spending $700 million on making sure people don't have to spend $40 on a converter box. Between cable, satellite, and fiber, the penetration rate is somewhere around 90%, anyway. I imagine a good number of that remaining 10% are senior citizens who probably have less of an issue with the cost than with hooking up the damned contraption.

  • ||

    These stimuli, once grafted to the budgets of absurd wastes like NEftA become create the new BASELINE BUDGETS WHICH WILL BE BOOSTED AGAIN NEXT BUDGET CYCLE.

    Don't forget this for one instant. The vast majority of the bill is gargantuan increases in baseline spending.

  • ||

    Look, just because your wife violates you with a strap-on doesn't make you Mr. ExcitingSex.

    Your sexual fantasies about me are quite out of control. And I'm not impugning Max's love of the ladies, I'm just saying there's a lot of leather around. And a guy in a metal hockey mask with a bad case of alopecia. It's a bit fetishy is all I'm saying.

  • ||

    I imagine a good number of that remaining 10% are senior citizens who probably have less of an issue with the cost than with hooking up the damned contraption.

    That's what grandkids are for, man.

  • Fluffy||

    I would also say that on the converter issue so much education has already been done that the people who still don't know about it can't be reached by anything other than their TV sets ceasing to work.

    That's not to say that I support the forced conversion to digital in the first place. I'm not sure I like the original intervention here. But continuing to slowly piss money away on "educating" the public about what's coming seems like a huge waste to me.

    I bet we'd see "vulnerable" populations suddenly develop a lot of awareness and a lot of technical acumen if their TV's stopped working.

  • ||

    PL,

    It seems to me that doing everything possible not to help people convert their TVs is more stimulating to the economy. It would drive TV sales. Which is better for the economy? A $40 dongle paid for by money stolen from taxpayers, or a new TV bought with social security money?

  • ||

    Your sexual fantasies about me are quite out of control.

    Come on, I know about you and that donkey in the fountain. That story was true. The hot dogs, the oatmeal, everything.

    And a guy in a metal hockey mask with a bad case of alopecia.

    Mad Max + Jason Voorhees = kinktastic violence

  • ||

    Speaking of spending money unwisely, the stimulus bill adds another $850 million for Amtrak, the railroad that can't turn a profit.

    Couldn't they just give everybody in America a new Chevrolet?

  • ||

    SugarFree,

    You know, I bet 50" LCD screens are better for the environment, too. Instead of sending cash to everyone, let's enact a bill mandating that each American household purchase at least one 50" or larger LCD or plasma screen TV before the end of the year. Penalties for noncompliance: $11,000 and up to a year in jail.

  • ||

    You guys don't understand about the digital conversion. There are a lot of autistic retards out there like Rain Man who will go apeshit with their Tard Strength if Judge Wapner is suddenly not on one day. This money is to protect the nurses, doctors, and orderlies from that Retard Apocalypse scenario.

  • Sean||

    If half this money (lets say $400 billion) went straight to debt service, would the savings in interest over the next 5 years provide more economic benefit that throwing cash at random things? Then again, they have to borrow $400 billion in order to put it towards debt. The vicous cycle continues...

  • ||

    PL,

    Here's Slate's hand-wringing guilt-fest column on "green TVs." All of the columns in that on-going series are hilarious hairshirt-o-ramas.

  • ||

    So, when we move away from the mp3 standard, will everyone get a check to cover the replacement of all of their downloaded music?

  • ||

  • ||

    SugarFree,

    Okay, make it LCDs. I imagine they're greener in production and in disposal, so maybe that makes up for their higher energy use.

    About the digital conversion. I've heard that it probably won't be ten years before we convert the SD digital signal to a true HD signal. Will that be subsidized as well?

  • ||

    I have a blog. It's just something for my friends and families, but I imagine it still sucks up a lot of energy.

    Oh. My. God.

  • ||

    This money is to protect the nurses, doctors, and orderlies from that Retard Apocalypse scenario.

    Once again you try to scaremonger about the gentle North American Reticulated Retard. He is quite peaceful in his natural element and is far more scared of you than you are of him. The real threat is from entitlement-crazed senior citizens on attack scooters.

  • Chuck||

    More people need converter boxes than it appears. My mom lives out in an area with no cable service. She has satellite, but satellite doesn't deliver the local channels (from Birmingham and Huntsville, mostly), which she still watches for the news. So, she still needs a converter box to get the local news. Maybe I should ask for stimulus funds to get her a 50" LCD TV.

    At any rate, we took care of getting the converter box a long time ago. Anybody who needs one and hasn't done it yet is even more of a procrastinator than I am. Or they are hopeless morans. Probably both.

  • ||

    I have a blog. It's just something for my friends and families, but I imagine it still sucks up a lot of energy.

    Well, only if you post video and images. Also, if you really want to conserve resources, studies have shown that vowels are unnecessary. A black background also helps.

  • ||

    Chuck,

    I think seniors are the big gap. While my parents are on cable, my grandparents weren't (and wouldn't be today, I'm sure). I'd have installed the danged converter for them, of course, though my grandfather wasn't half bad with stuff like that.

  • ||

    The real threat is from entitlement-crazed senior citizens on attack scooters.

    "I got my scooter and Medicaid paid for the whole thing!" ARRGGHHHH

    A black background also helps.

    So that's why your web site looks horrible? Energy conservation?

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Gaea loves us for the sacrifices we've made for her.

    Actually, highnumber set up the blog using one of the Blogger templates. I suppose we could actually redesign the site, but just finding the energy to make posts seems to be an overwhelming challenge for us.

  • ||

    but just finding the energy to make posts seems to be an overwhelming challenge for us.

    Another shining example of the damage being done to our environment. Our ancestors had plenty of energy to blog because they lived in tune with Gaia.

  • ||

    PAINTSVILLE, Kentucky (AP) -- Stricken with arthritis, Connie Haller gave up strolling the streets of this mountain town. But when the 78-year-old woman learned that the government would buy her a motorized scooter, she gladly accepted. And so did her elderly friends. And their friends. And their friends.

    Now, this town of 4,000 in Kentucky's coalfields is seemingly overrun with scooter riders.

    Scores of scooters and motorized wheelchairs plod along busy streets to the Wal-Mart, restaurants and beauty salons. Motorists complain that they snarl traffic, and the gray-haired riders fret about the dangers of sharing the asphalt with cars and trucks.

    Mayor Doug Pugh believes the government helped create the problem and should help pay for the sidewalks that would solve it.

    "It would be a lot safer," Pugh said. "These aren't like little motorcycles -- they shouldn't have to be on the roads."

    Paintsville officials are not sure exactly how many people in town have scooters. But Haller said she knows of at least 50 in her apartment building alone.

    "It's been a lifesaver for me, and for many others," she said. "We ride our buggies everywhere."

    This Appalachian region some 60 miles south of Huntington, West Virginia, has long had high numbers of disabled residents, many of whom worked in the mining and logging industries.

    Paintsville's plight also reflects a government-subsidized explosion in the use of scooters, which cost $5,000 or more, depending on accessories. Medicare, the federal health care program for 40 million older and disabled people, said claims for scooters and power wheelchairs have increased from 62,000 in 1999 to 168,000 in 2003. Medicare payments for the devices rose from $22.3 million in 1995 to $666.5 million in 2003.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Couldn't they just give everybody in America a new Chevrolet?"

    Make mine a Corvette.

  • ||

    just finding the energy to make posts seems to be an overwhelming challenge for us.

    Jagermeister and Red Bull should fix you right up. And, with the black background, it really doesn't matter what you post, because nobody can read it, anyway.

  • ||

    Medicare, the federal health care program for 40 million older and disabled people, said claims for scooters and power wheelchairs have increased from 62,000 in 1999 to 168,000 in 2003. Medicare payments for the devices rose from $22.3 million in 1995 to $666.5 million in 2003.

    Just

    fucking

    kill

    me.

  • ||

    just finding the energy to make posts seems to be an overwhelming challenge for us.

    You seem to be implying that's a bad thing.

  • ed||

    autistic retards out there like Rain Man

    Everybody loves Rain Man. Anyway, the extension has a provision allowing TV stations to convert their signals on schedule if they so desire. Some already have, ahead of time.
    Oddly, their customers have not rioted.

  • Fred||

    Doherty WOULD think that the Rational Review is "always useful." If by "always" you mean "never", I would agree. I'm sure your irrelevant anarcho pals appreciate the shout out.

  • ||

    This information seems like the kind of thing that should be read in the town square in every village across the land. Like when they printed up the Constitution for every one to read.

  • ed||

    There's No Time™, Tim. It's urgent, critical, desperate even!
    Haven't you been listening to our Teleprompter In Chief?

  • Egosumabbas||

    So I decided to use one of those coupons to buy a digital converter box (insert obligatory libertarian disclaimer here), and got a signal amplifier for another 30 bucks. Hooked everything (noting that the converter box uses shitty composite video cables), and didn't get a single digital OTA signal. I had to move the receiver into another room, and I got a few more channels, but half of them would have scrambled video and stuttering arudio.

    It turns out that digital broadcast signals do not degrade gracefully, unlike analog broadcast signals. My wife commented "*this* is supposed to be more advanced 21st century technology? how is this better"?

    We then found out that out cable company broadcasts digital cable QAM signals in the clear, and the converter box now sits disused in the basement.

    Also, one thing I noticed is that the cheapest converter box is a magnavox priced at 40+ dollars *in every store*--coincidentally the same value as the coupon. The thing is cheaply made and couldn't have cost more than a few dollars to produce. Can we say "rent seeking"?

  • ||

    I think the black background is good, because it hides all the dirt.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Haven't you been listening to our Teleprompter In Chief?"

    LOL

    That's a pretty good moniker for him but I think the "president 666" name that someone used in one of these threads the other day edges it out for first place.

    I may have to "borrow" both of those for future reference.

  • Ward S. Denker||

    And somehow, with all that ACORN has done for him, some Democrat somewhere (read as 'all of them') is in denial that this has anything to do with getting our Predident elected.

  • ||

    I give up. ACORN? Are you people serious? What is this, the Drudge Report?

  • waldo||

    It's not hard to spend the money appropriately. Roads, bridges, water treatment, power plants, recycling centers, etc etc. ALL things that can be built ALL over, that NEED to be built all over.
    The squabbling comes because everyone wants to Spend billions of dollars on hiring their companies to do it, and having their materials used, and having it done where THEY get to tax it.

  • ||

    In response to Boehner's statement, ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis stated: "We watch with bemusement as he tries to gin up opposition to progressive solutions to America's deep economic crisis by accusing ACORN of doing something we have never done. We have not received neighborhood stabilization funds, have no plans to apply for such funds, and didn't weigh in on the pending rule changes."

    She then totally carved a B on my face.

  • cuernimus||

    Was she screaming "Boehner" while she was doing it? 'Cuz I might have seen that video online...

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