I've belatedly added NH Watchdog to my bloglist; it's run by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, and it's probably not good for my blood pressure. For example, it led me to this Union Leader editorial describing how $2 million in Federal "stimulus" funds is being used:
Here is the Obama administration's idea for how to stimulate the New Hampshire economy: Provide Boston commuters with free buses.I won't cut-n-paste the whole thing, but read it yourself: it's brief, eloquent, and depressing. One Peter Rogoff of the "Federal Transit Administration" is quoted:
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Friday that it is sending $2 million in stimulus money to the state DOT to buy four buses.
These funds are creating jobs now while investing in the future of our transit systems.The skeptical Union Leader asked Jim Jalbert, the guy who runs the buses, how many "new jobs" would be created. His answer: four, maybe five. The math is pretty simple: that's $400K-$500K per job.
Now, I don't know Jim; even though we both live in scenic Rollinsford NH, we don't run in the same circles. It's a good bet that my property taxes would be higher if he weren't around, so I'm grateful for that. I'd like to say this is a payback to a reliable Democratic Party contributor, but a quick check of OpenSecrets.org shows that he's a GOP guy, and his political sympathies, if anything, are a couple notches to the right of mine. I'm sympathetic, because he operates a service that's highly regulated and his competition, such that it is, is also highly subsidized. He has a response further down on the editorial's web page, which you should read. But I think the conclusions are unavoidable:
Painting the $2 million as job-creating "stimulus" is dishonest. It's a
handout, plain and simple.
If bus service is really that popular, it should be supportable by its
If that $2 million were left in private hands, people might use it to choose to
support bus service, they might not.
The jobs that would have been created from the (theoretical) $2
million in private hands are "unseen" (read Bastiat
for a refresher on that). I bet it would be more than four
or five, though.
The point is: the folks running
the "stimulus" would prefer not to take the chance you would make the
"wrong" choice, and create the "wrong" jobs.
Jim Jalbert should buy his own damn buses.