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Stimulate this! (A one year check-up on the federal stimulus plan)

February 17, 2010
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It’s exactly a year since the passing of the $787 million stimulus bill last February. It was promised to create new jobs and boost the economy into recovery. Whether or not it has succeeded is up for debate. The economy is a little better since then, but that could just be the normal cycle. Unemployment is down, but that could be from people who ran out of benefits. It’s anyone’s guess at this point. Looking back, it’s funny how many different stimulus “projects” were funded under this plan. Some are downright ridiculous.  Remember my post about inane earmarks in the annual budget?  These are almost as bad.

Always have a backup plan

About three flights a day depart and arrive at John Murtha airport in Pennsylvania.  It has a pretty little terminal and everything.  You would think its runways would be able to support it’s not-so-busy schedule.  Well, the authors of the stimulus bill thought otherwise.


In the plan, $800,000 went to this tiny airport to build another runway.  You know, what if two of those three flights are scheduled to arrive at the same time?  You can’t have them playing chicken.  Many blame this on a Pennsylvanian Democrat who made his name inserting earmarks.  What’s his name you ask?  The recently deceased John Murtha.  Interesting.  The best part is, this isn’t the first time money was spent on this airport when it should have gone somewhere else.  When asked if money is wasted at the airport, even the airport manager mentions the barely used $8 million radar system installed several years ago on the government’s dime.

The crap-o-meter is high on this one

Outside of the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state, the bunnies are apparently nuclear.  While that may be a story in itself, the point here revolves around their nuclear poop.  And all this time I thought bunnies were powered by Energizers or carrots.

Well, the stimulus bill paid for a $300,000 helicopter equipped with GPS to help locate the droppings for disposal.  They say it saves time over having people go over the 4000 hectares on foot.  That’s great and all, but isn’t it technically taking away jobs?

As if they don’t have enough money already

Microsoft is a big, rich corporation.  Bill Gates has lost a lot of personal wealth in the last few years and still has a bankroll bigger than the GNP of half the world’s countries.  You would think an $11 million project to build a bridge connecting their two buildings would be a drop in the bucket.  That’s OK Microsoft, don’t worry about it because the stimulus bill is here to save the day.

This was definitely one of the more criticized projects from the bill.  The general thought was that the Feds should tell Microsoft if they want it, they build it.

Practically worth its weight in gold

Apparently, the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri is low on potties.  There was an insert in the stimulus package to correct that problem.  It called for the purchase of 22 concrete toilets to place in the forest… for $462,000.

I was an accounting major in college, so without even using a calculator I can tell you that’s $21,000 per toilet.  Yikes.

I don’t even remember her name

Part of the stimulus package was assigned to the Nation Institutes of Health to give grants for “important” studies.  Well, they deemed $219,000 important enough for a Syracuse University psychology study on the sexual habits of freshmen.  A professor there studied the “hookups” of 500 female students.

I don’t know how close she studied them, but I hope she was wearing gloves for that.  I heard that crabs can be transmitted by touch. 

Safe driving is important

There’s a small town in Oklahoma called Guymon with a population of 266 people.  They sometimes use a local road to get places.  The government set aside $1.15 million to build a guardrail along the length of the road because it borders a lake.  That seems OK, right?  Well, it would be if the lake had any water in it.

Yes, they’re installing a guardrail so that nobody drives off the road and risks possible boredom by ending up in a dry lake bed.

And these are just a few of the places that are getting stimulus money.  $356,000 to study childhood comprehension of foreign accents compared with native speech?  Sure.  $20,000 for a fish sperm freezer in South Dakota?  Why not? It still remains to be seen if the stimulus package will be a success.  I hope it will, but I have a nagging feeling like it’s going to go down as a mistake that could have been much better with some tweaks.  Time will tell.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 11:29 am

    Awesome blog today Christian…couldn’t agree with you more. I always considered having no money to buy food, beers and entertain a young lady stimulus enough for me to do better…the problem isn’t going to be solved by throwing money around. This has always been a wasted tactic further enhanced by the individual stimulus packages. Like everyone rushed out to support Kenmore by purchasing a 2nd garage refrigerator when we got our cute little $600 refund. HA! Here’s a Stimulus – we don’t produce anything in this country that doesn’t resemble a pile of poop and it costs a crapload because our internal management policies dictate such – therefore (and here’s the shocker) no one wants our products. Build something cheap and practical, like Steel, microchips, lighter, stronger plastics, materials, etc. Oh well!

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