It’s a Start

3 02 2009

Martin Moleski

Warning! Really long post…begins now.

Today, Republican leaders called out specific earmarks they want removed from President Obama’s $900 billion stimulus plan. This list is incredible on so many levels. I’ve put my first reaction to each item in parentheses.

  • $2 billion earmarkto re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient. (What state is our president from?)
  • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film. (Who still uses film? Isn’t everything HD?)
  • $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program. (Biggest waste of money….ever)
  • $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (I thought global warming was taking care of this?)
  •  $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. (I was always told  Democrats didn’t care about Homeland Security)
  • $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees. (So with the mpg savings, they’ll just drive to more “blue-ribbon committee meetings. No deal.)
  •  $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters. (My home furnishings don’t equal half the purchase price of my home.)
  • $400 millionfor the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s (Government trying to be parents for everyone.)
  •  $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs. (Literally throwing money away.)
  • $125 million for the Washington sewer system. (Literally flushing money down the toilet.)
  • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities. (Just a simple “No” from me.)
  • $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion. (With all the illegal immigrants in our country, why even do a Census?)
  •  $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.” (I disagree with this one. The long-term health care savings would more than make up for it.)
  •  $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges. (I didn’t receive a free computer when I went to college.) 
  •  $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI. (I’ll give them this one.)
  •  $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction. (Sadly, this is probably not even enough. If it’s not sustainable, it has to go.)
  • $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River. (Don’t live in a bowl, and you’ll be fine.)
  • $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas. (And then what?)
  • $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings. (No, only because I don’t like the guy from the Re-Power America commercials.)
  •  $500 million for state and local fire stations. (If a community won’t pass a fire levy, then they don’t deserve fire protection.)
  •  $650 millionfor wildland fire management on forest service lands. (Is that how much they are paying Smokey the Bear?)
  • $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs. (Wow, what happened to capitalism?)
  •  $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service. (Didn’t we learn anything from the former Merrill-Lynch CEO?)
  • $412 million for CDC buildings and property. (To do what with, exactly?)
  • $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland. (Give this money to Walter Reed…now!)
  •  $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service. (Isn’t paid volunteer an oxymoron?)
  • $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration. (The “green” movement sure has some good lobbyists.)
  •  $850 million for Amtrak. (Is this to pay for inevitable derailment lawsuits?)
  • $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint. (Don’t lick the walls and you’ll be fine.)
  •  $75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies. (It doesn’t say this is a “green” building so why even attempt to build it?)
  •  $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems. (What? Isn’t that like paying the Amish to update their web site?)
  • $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations. (Shouldn’t they be marching in formation, instead?)

You have to wonder, after reading this extensive list, what else could be left?? Well, add up the numbers above and it only comes to $19.0905 billion. Hmm.. that leaves $880.9095 billion of our money. I hope this puts things into perspective.

On a personal note, I actually don’t mind investing in “green” technology as I think it could become our next industrial revolution. But from looking at the list above, I think they are missing the mark. Let me explain. Green technology is great, except nobody ever talks about the behavioral changes that go along with it. The way I see it – and research will show in a few years – people who drive hybrids or own green homes are more likely to use more gas or electricity than if they weren’t living a green lifestyle. Why? Because the feeling of getting more for your money leads to greater consumption. It’s like going to the mall and spending $500 because you saved $50 by opening a credit card. It’s the mentality of “The more I spend, the more I save.” With green technology, it leads to a “Because I’m saving, I can use more” mentality. What we should be investing in is wind and other renewable energy sources that can lead to sustainable manufacturing and service jobs. Trust me, the research isn’t out yet because green technology hasn’t been around long enough.

Wow, I just got a great idea. Let’s use some “stimulus” money to pay me to do the research on green technology. My fee is a competitive $150,000. After looking at the numbers above, it sure seems reasonable, doesn’t it?