Sunday, January 4, 2009

Senator Schumer Demands Roads to Nowhere excerpts Jay Ambrose's Washington Times article (h/t Larwyn) about the pork-and-corruption aspects of President-elect Obama's infrastructure construction plan:

"Criticisms begin with the thought it will be the mother of all pork feasts, a politician's picnic, an extravaganza of waste, and then come other trepidations - that the program won't kick in soon enough to serve pressing needs, that it won't provide economic sustenance over the long haul, that it will entail the kind of excess that got us into trouble in the first place and that for every benefit bestowed, an equal or greater benefit will be erased from the private economy."

As well, Ambrose notes that public spending crowds out public spending. Nevertheless, not to be outdone, New York's Senator Schumer offers the burlesque proposal of an additional stimulus package.

Note that no one on the national stage, including the banking community, has identified what the crisis is, how big it is or whether there really is a crisis. The current unemployment rate of 6.7% (to be updated in five days) was considered near full employment back in the 1980s when I pounded the pavement looking for benefits director jobs.

How many skilled builders are available for hire right now, and how many will be available in six months when the trillion dollar monetary expansion starts to take hold?

Japan has squandered billions on roads to nowhere, and perhaps Mr. Schumer and his corrupt friends in the Senate aim to follow suit. On December 24, 2007, Leo Lewis of the London Times wrote:

"Japan’s most spectacular building projects, including possibly the world’s most expensive road, resulted from deception and falsified data, the former president of the state highways agency has told The Times.

"Kuniichiro Takahashi’s admission comes as the hugely indebted Government has rediscovered its addiction to public works and has earmarked nearly 70 trillion yen (£311 billion) in its budget for road and rail building projects over the next decade.

"Ridiculing these new “roads to nowhere”, Mr Takahashi said they were almost certainly unnecessary in a country whose population is ageing, shrinking and buying fewer cars every year. However, major road and rail construction continues to be the favourite tool of pork-barrel politics in Japan."

A true New Yorker, Senator Schumer views 70 trillion yen as a target to be surpassed, much like President Kennedy viewed Sputnik. Schumer's economic stimulus plan: No country will waste more money in public works than America. New York will waste more than Chicago. Washington will waste more than New York. Our economy needs it. Yeah.

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