From The Cincinnati Enquirer comes this breakdown of how the stimulus adds up in per person spending in various counties so far:
Hamilton County has $124.3 million in the stimulus pipeline—about $146 per person. That's slightly below the state average, ranking Hamilton County 37th out of 88 counties.
Warren County, where county commissioners have been vocally ambivalent about accepting stimulus money, ranks 67th in the state at $62 per person in stimulus. The county is in line for $12.9 million in stimulus funds….
Butler County is getting $57 per person, which ranks 68th in the state. And Clermont, with $36 per capita in federal stimulus spending, ranks 80th of the 88 counties.
Besides the question of whether stimulus spending works as intended (it doesn't), we might gaze upon these works and make two observations.
First, the very puny-ness of the amounts when broken down this way betrays the political caculus of stimulus: It sounds so grand when you're throwing around $800 billion or a $1 trillion as a sum total and then you realize the crumbs that would under the best circumstances make it to us peons. Here's $150 pal—go knock yourself out and revive the economy while yer at it!
Stimulus spending is all about dazzling with ginormity on the biggest scale possible while giving the kids change dug up from the couch cushions. This may not be all bad if it wakes people up to what the government is actually talking about when mortgaging the next 300 years for an endless slew of "shovel-ready" projects. It's about delivering massive contracts to a small number of very well-connected contractors and interest groups while pretending there is some grand public person to such largess.
Second, the way in which stimulus-related spending is calculated in the press and popular imagination may have the effect of ginning up total amounts. Using the above numbers, for instance, will Butler County residents feel ripped off compared to Hamilton County inmates? Will they respond in the time-honored fashion of siblings and demand equal or better compensation than their brothers and sisters, rather than demanding everyone get less? Given the basic dynamics of interest-group politics and a century or more of observed massive jacking of government spending, I'm sadly betting on the latter. And not just because I'm a Butler County resident!