Stimulus Lies

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.

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.

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:
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 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 passengers.

  • 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.

Last Modified 2009-07-29 2:20 PM EST

A Darkness More Than Night

[Amazon Link]

Michael Connelly is on the short list of authors I'm trying to catch up with. By my count, this 2001 book was his tenth novel, and he's currently up around twenty. At this rate… ah, it's too depressing to think about.

But Connelly's really, really, good. If you like hard-boiled crime fiction, you'll like him. This one is long, about 470 paperback pages, but it's a page turner.

It has two main characters, both from previous Connelly books: Terry McCaleb from Blood Work, and Harry Bosch from a lot of previous books. McCaleb is fragile, a heart transplant patient taking over fifty pills a a day. He's married to the sister of his heart's previous owner (long story there), and is living a more or less contented life on Catalina.

But in his previous life, McCaleb was an FBI profiler, one of the best. A stumped local cop pulls him into a murder case, and McCaleb's investigation points to an unlikely suspect: the aforementioned LAPD detective Harry Bosch, who had tried and failed to nail the victim for the murder of a prostitute.

What's going on? Harry has been the hero of a number of previous Connelly books, but he's always been a little less likeable and a little more squirrelly than your traditional crime fiction protagonist. Could he have gone that far around the bend, though?

Anyway, it's a compelling and suspenseful read, with a thrilling climax, a satisfying conclusion, and a surprise twist right at the very end.

Last Modified 2012-10-06 6:08 AM EST

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Going to see the latest HP movie has become a tradition for us. We waited for a week, though, and the Saturday afternoon showing at the Strand Theatre was sparsely attended. If you want to see it, you might want to brush up on what's gone previously. I'd forgotten some points, like exactly who/what the death-eaters are. (And even now that I know who the "Half-Blood Prince" is, I'm not sure why he's called that, or why it's important.)

It's Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, there's a new professor (Slughorn, played amusingly by Jim Broadbent), Snape is still moody and dark, and Dumbledore assigns Harry to find out what's going on. This seems to be a task that for which Harry is woefully inadequate, but (as in previous entries in the series), he always seems to do an adequate job and survive until the end of the film.

Also, there's an amusing subplot about raging teenage hormones; prospective wizards have those too. Much talk about "snogging"; I wonder if they considered releasing the movie with American subtitles?

But if you've read the books, you know that the ending of this, the penultimate one in the series, is not a happy one. The final book is being made into two final movies, which only shows that the filmmakers know people like us too well.

Last Modified 2014-11-30 3:23 PM EST