It’s a Start

3 02 2009

Martin Moleski
mmoleski@igpr.com

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?

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4 responses

3 02 2009
Kyle Kutuchief

Martin, so the RNC gets their top researchers to comb through $880 billion and is only able to come up with $19 billion, which is about 2% of the spending that they have a problem with? Bravo. Let’s allow the American economy to continue to deteriorate as tens of thousands of more jobs get cut each week while we squabble over 2%. You guys better get those AM radios tuned in to see what to do next since that seems to be the only source of conservative leadership lately.

$150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities – Why should tax payer dollars perpetuate myth of dinosaurs?

$1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs – Uh, isn’t that what rivers are for?

$500 million for state and local fire stations – Yeah screw fire fighters! Why do that need money? It’s not like when we had some major terrorist attack that they were the first ones on the scene saving people.

I’m looking forward to 2010.

This was all in jest. I like the blog and will check it more. I’ll put a link on The Chief Source too.

3 02 2009
Andy

Re: Kyle

I had to send Martin a personal note to refute some of his remarks. But you make a good point about how this list only accounts for 2% of the total package while delaying the passage of the bill will cause more harm.

Most of these items create jobs, which is what the stimulus package should do.

Also, the green technology theory about more usage is flawed because some owners of solar panels can actually sell energy back to the grid if it’s in excess of what they use. Instead of a bill, these customers actually get a check from the electric company. It’s an interesting theory, but I think it’s flawed.

3 02 2009
Martin

Kyle and Andy:

Wait..so $19 billion isn’t important? Even at 2% you are still OK with this type of irresponsible spending. I”m sure you’d change your tune if the $19 billion was spent on an additional two months in Iraq.That money pays for soldiers and other subcontractors to be employed, right?! But your beef is that the money is being wasted because it’s 1) not accomplishing the mission and 2) it’s being mismanaged. To some extent, I agree. How is this any different? It’s just like the TARP money. In no way should $18 billion of that been used for bonuses.

Look, I never once said we shouldn’t have a stimulus. I even disagreed with a few of the suggested cuts. All I really care about is whether or not this money, which is designed to stimulate the economy, is really being put to its proper use. I simply argue that in many of the cases listed in the blog, they don’t accomplish the objective. Thanks for reading!

P.S. I just want to be clear about the fire fighters. In no way am I suggesting that they don’t deserve the money. If local governments are in charge of fire departments, than the community needs to support that. I just don’t believe support should come from the federal government. If we continue to let the federal government bail everyone out, we can kiss accountability goodbye.

7 02 2009
Charlie

Just a few brief responses for Kyle… (make sure you read the end)

“Martin, so the RNC gets their top researchers to comb through $880 billion and is only able to come up with $19 billion, which is about 2% of the spending that they have a problem with?”

– Kyle, so the Dems get their top researchers to think of ways to spend $880 billion and someone can easily point out how 2% of it is a joke in an impromptu blog. And you think that is not worth questioning? What percentage of the $880 billion do you contribute? You should be happy nobody is questioning the other 98%.

“Bravo. Let’s allow the American economy to continue to deteriorate as tens of thousands of more jobs get cut each week while we squabble over 2%. You guys better get those AM radios tuned in to see what to do next since that seems to be the only source of conservative leadership lately.”

-Kyle, if you understood that employees are normally hired to help make a company successful, then I wouldn’t have to waste my time explaining why they get laid off when they make a company lose money. If you want to start a company that hires people because it feels good, give me a call.

“$150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities – Why should tax payer dollars perpetuate myth of dinosaurs?”

-Kyle, I am taking this as a sarcastic comment, and I ask will learning about Adam and Eve or the Big Bang Theory help any of us as a country? Who cares? It’s not the goverment’s responsibility to choose, and is definitely not a good use of your money. I would rather spend my money on you, quite honestly, perhaps to learn about finance and the history of failed governments.

“$1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs – Uh, isn’t that what rivers are for?”

-Sarcastic, I read it. But for real, what are we coming to when we have to pay people not to litter? Aren’t we better than that? I’ll give you $10 not to post another blog, do you know how much energy that wastes? Research google’s servers energy usage and tell me you don’t use them.

“$500 million for state and local fire stations – Yeah screw fire fighters! Why do that need money? It’s not like when we had some major terrorist attack that they were the first ones on the scene saving people.”

Have you heard of the Constitution and/or federalism? Rhetorical question. So you want the feds to take over your local police duties? Perhaps put a fire out for you? I think you would be happy in the USSR circa the 1980’s, except they might not let you smoke weed.
I’m looking forward to 2010.

“This was all in jest. I like the blog and will check it more. I’ll put a link on The Chief Source too.”

I agree, I was just having a good time too, always trying to take the other side. Thanks for the good interaction. Although I agree with most of my points, and I assume you do too.

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