Archive for February, 2009

Colons and semicolons

February 9, 2009

I use this quote to mark the creation of my new category — punctuation.  This category will feature quotes whose appeal lies in pretty usage of punctuation.  Does pretty punctuation send tingles up anyone else’s spine?

There are two ways to slide easily through life: namely, to believe everything, or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.” — Alfred Korzybski


GOP Waste List in Senate Spending Bill

February 3, 2009

See CNN story here:

I have two big problems with this list.  One, the total amount of the “pork” that the GOP has found is 19.0905 (if I’ve used my Calculator right) Billion.  Not that 19 Billion isn’t a lot of money, but it makes up just over 2% of the stimulus bill.  If you agree with 98% of something, I feel that “compromise” should cover the other 2. 

Second, I reject the idea that most (not all) of the provisions they’ve mentioned don’t go towards stimulating the economy.  Recently I heard someone say something rather interesting on the radio.  It went something like this: “If the sole objective of the Government is to create the greatest number of jobs per dollar they should spend half of the $900 billion to pay unemployed Americans to dig a ditch and the other half to have it filled back in again.”  His point, of course, was that mere “job creation” is not the goal, but job creation that is good for America.  Keeping that in mind, here is a rundown of the GOP’s objection list.

• $2 billion earmark to 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. –I’ve never been a big supporter of Clean Coal.  It seems that the consensus from smart people who know more than I do is that it’s pie in the sky.  That being said, a lot of other smart people seem to think it has some potential.  Either way, a clean-coal plant creates jobs across the whole spectrum, from blue-collar plant workers to white-collar researchers.  When Obama talks about “green-jobs” these are it.

• $800 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees and funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.   I see this as a “two birds with one stone” solution.  It pumps some money into the American Automobile industry and helps the federal government set a good example on energy conservation.  Also, the displaced non-green vehicles will likely be auctioned.  This will be great for state and local governments which can’t afford new vehicles. 

• $2.885 billion for rural waste disposal programs, the Washington sewer system, canal inspections, flood protection, and Amtrak. Everyone likes to talk about “investing in our infrastructure,” but when it comes time to doing it we seem to chicken out.  Piling up garbage, overflowing sewers, breaking canals, rampant flooding and a broken rail system is all part of our infrastructure.  That 2.885 billion is going to employ a lot of people in a very wide range of professions.  If you were wondering what “public works” meant – that’s it.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census – The census employs a LOT of short term workers to go count heads.  An accurate counting of persons in the United States is not a wasteful luxury that liberal governments love – it’s a constitutional mandate.  Underfunding it is simply not an option.  From a more political position, it should be noted that the GOP has historically tried to hamper the efforts of the census.  The census tends to show that urban (blue) locations have increased dramatically in population, the result of which is more electoral votes in blue states. 

• $6.005 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings and improving energy efficiency – Again, this easily translates into jobs.  White collar jobs to research green technologies to put into buildings and blue collar jobs to implement them. This also works towards reducing the federal government’s dependence on foreign oil.

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.  – I disagree that adequately funding our nation’s first responders is wasteful pork. 

• $1.36 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs and for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service. – As many jobs typically held by high school and college students (such as supermarket cashier) are increasingly taken by displaced adults, providing worthwhile work to our nation’s youth becomes a serious objective.  I could see how this money might end up being wasted, but a world of good might come out of it too.  For the sake of argument though, I’ll include this in waste.

 $934 million for salaries of employees at the FBI, to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers, for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship). for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters, and for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters. – You don’t need to convince me that the US spends too much on its military and domestic counterparts (firefighters and police excepted).  That being said, I’m a little surprised to see the GOP on this side of the argument.  If it were a liberal calling this wasteful they’d be a “Muslim loving traitor who hates his country.”  For the sake of argument though, I’ll include this in the “waste” part. 

• $1.5 Billion  for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service, CDC buildings and property, building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities and for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s, and substance abuse reduction.  – The argument is that a healthy population is a productive population.  FTSOA though, into the waste it goes. 


• $2.6 Billion for Smithsonian museum facilities, wildland fire management on forest service lands, Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film,  digital television converter box coupon program, and public computer centers at community colleges. I happen to think that museums, parks, and computers for students are important.  I’d say that its nice of the government, who mandated that some peoples TV’s become obsolete, help cover the costs.  As for the Hollywood thing, that looks like crap to me.  FTSOA though, onto the pile.

I’m now left with 6.394 billion in “waste.”  That pans out to 7/10 of 1percent of the bill.  .007%.  Less than one penny on the dollar.  If 99.3% agreed spending isn’t enough – we’re in serious trouble for the next four years.