Posted by: John Gilmore | September 16, 2006

Stimulus Bill Causes Hope to Fade

I imagine that if we could be transported back in time to the final years of the Roman Empire – it would look a lot like the United States today. Lots of inept leaders ignoring the truth of what is happening – still pretending that nothing has changed – still clinging to failed policies and a failed system – until the entire system fails one day.

This blog post by Chris Martenson does a great job of summing up the current state of our leaders. They are still ignoring the glaring warning signs that the party is over. They are still adding pet projects to ‘stimulus’ bills in order to benefit themselves. They can’t see that this is the end – we’re heading for a complete and final train wreck. Rome is burning and everyone’s playing a fiddle. This is the inevitable result of the blind leading the blind. Amazing.

jg – February 2, 2009

Stimulus Bill Causes Hope to Fade
Saturday, January 31, 2009, 2:45 pm, by cmartenson

The subtitle to this article is Bringing a Hose to a Flood

I’ll be honest, I was equal parts hopeful and doubtful that anything new would come out of Washington because, well, I’ve been watching the situation for a long time and nothing really “new” comes out of there very often.

For now, I must content myself to sit back and watch, and wait, knowing that sooner or later reality will force itself back onto the radar screens of our leaders. For now, they remain hopelessly out of touch. For example, check out this well-meaning statement:

“This is a continuing disaster for America’s working families,” Obama said at the White House yesterday. “They need us to pass the American Recovery and Investment Plan,” designed to save more than 3 million jobs, he said. House lawmakers passed the stimulus Jan. 28, moving action to the Senate next week.

I agree with the ‘disaster’ part, but I am less than certain of the ’save more than 3 million jobs’ part.

Here’s why:

An $800 billion-plus package, it turns out, gives lawmakers plenty of opportunities to rid themselves of nagging headaches left over from the days when running up the government’s $10 trillion-plus debt was a bigger concern.
There’s $345 million for Agriculture Department computers, $650 million for TV converter boxes, $15 billion for college scholarships — worthy, perhaps, but not likely to put many Americans back to work quickly.

There’s $1 billion to deal with Census problems and $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building next year. The Senate would devote $2.1 billion to pay off a looming shortfall in public housing accounts, $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.

But nothing is in the legislation by accident. By including in the Senate stimulus bill such far-ranging ideas as $40 million to convert the way health statistics are collected — from paper to an electronic system — lawmakers are able to thin out their in-boxes, even if they aren’t doing much to create jobs.

There’s also $380 million in the Senate bill for a rainy day fund for the Women, Infants and Children program that delivers healthful food to the poor. WIC got a $1 billion infusion last fall.

But some Democrats, like Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, think the $3.5 billion in the stimulus package devoted to health research, or the $14 billion-$15 billion for boosting Pell Grant college scholarships by $400 to $500 would be better spent on additional brick and mortar infrastructure projects.

Instead of directing money where it is most needed, Congress could not resist using this massive appropriation as free money for pet projects. In other words, there’s no sense that we need to be smart or careful with our money. Instead, an $850 billion package is the ideal time to do all the nifty things that couldn’t be funded during normal budget discussions.

It’s exactly how we might expect a lottery winner to behave during their first few weeks in the millionaire bracket.

How is it possible that DC Congressmen can see things this way? This embarrassing quote sums it up:

“If the house is burning, you’re not going to worry about which hose you grab, so long as you get water on the fire,” said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., one of the chief authors of the House package as chairman of its appropriations committee.

Well, Mr. Obey, it might matter if you’ve misdiagnosed the problem and it turns out the economic house is not on fire but rather caught in a flood of debt. Then your additional “spray and pray” deficit spending could be more harmful than helpful over the long haul. Having a basic understanding of the problem is essential to picking effective solutions.

It is attitudes like Mr Obey’s that cause me to lose hope that adults are in charge in DC and have some idea what they are doing. The vast amount of spending waste has convinced me that the actual seriousness of the predicament has not yet penetrated the thicker layers of the more obtuse lawmakers.

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