That's the Cinncinati Enquirer's lede in a story about the government's underwhelming effort to tell us citizens and peons just how much we're being stimulated by our own past, present, and especially future tax dollars:
It's a simple question: How much stimulus money has the region received so far?
The answer: No one knows.
Despite assurances from the Obama Administration that stimulus spending would be fully transparent, the system for tracking stimulus spending is fractured, redundant and disorganized.
The system is such a mess that the federal government announced this week that it's spending $18 million just to revamp its Recovery.gov web site.
To which U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, told reporters: "This is the most ridiculous thing I've heard. They've spent stimulus money to create this web site, it doesn't work very well, and now they want $18 million more to track how this wasted money is being wasted."
Got that? It's the perfect self-perpetuating stimulus project, and it's a real steal at $18 million every few months. Observers are starting to figure the whole transparency rap by Obama was as convincing as his pledge to quit smoking.
Jennifer LaFleur, a former newspaper investigative reporter covering transparency issues for Pro Publica, said the Obama Administration may have promised something it couldn't deliver.
"I don't think it was a realistic promise to tell people this would all be tracked— especially as it gets filtered down to state and local government," she said.
Transparency, she said, "means my mom should be able to figure out how money is coming to her hometown, and how its being spent, and I don't think that's the case right now."
At this point, Mom LaFleur has a better chance of tracking torture sessions ordered by Dick Cheney than she does of contracts to her hometown. But let's not let this sort of thing get in the way of the feds running health care, right? Consider this complication happening at high levels in the Buckeye State:
The Ohio governor's office, for example, revamped its stimulus web site this month to give more detailed county-by-county reports. It says Hamilton County has $124.4 million in stimulus money coming its way; Butler, $20.5 million; Warren, $12.9 million; and Clermont, $6.9 million.
But Auditor of State Mary Taylor, a Republican, keeps a separate "Stimulus Tracker" web site. And according to that, none of that money has yet reached Hamilton County—and only fraction has gotten to the others.
Some months back, Reason.tv talked with the CEO of Onvia, Mike Pickett, whose company is tracking, in real-time and for free, stimulus spending. Watch below and go here for embed code, iPod and HD versions, and more links. Approximately 5 minutes.