Monday, June 8, 2009

This is nice and all, but...

I'm sitting here listening to the news on NPR because I have the time, being underemployed this summer. I'm not complaining about that; I'm resourceful and am putting together work, unlike people who are married to their jobs and if and when they lose them (GM) are completely down and out, apparently.

Anyway, the news contains yet another story about how so many jobs will be produced this summer by this federal government stimulus money. Now don't get me wrong: I'm glad our tax dollars- or future debt to China, or whatever the source may be- will provide employment for some of us. However, there are strings attached to a lot of this money that have people in the position of receiving and using the cash to scratch their heads and in some cases tear what hair they have out of their skulls.

What I am talking about is the timeline attached to a lot of this money- millions of dollars, at least- requiring recipients to put all the money to work in a very short span of time. People, I am not going to bust on the bureaucracy here, but if you have had any level of civics education from a decent instructor, you know a fundamental rule of government: Productive activity works incrementally and takes time, especially when there is mandatory monitoring and reporting- a good thing- attached to public funds.

At just one conference alone last week, the American Society for Mining and Reclamation and Billings Land Symposium in Billings, MT, I heard from numerous agency sources in both technical sessions and social happy hour conversations, a common theme: We are being offered millions of dollars, but we have to spend it in X amount of time on projects that take more than X amount of time just to plan properly. And if we don't use that money in that X amount of time, we will lose it.

Oooops. Look; these economic hard times took a long time- years- to manifest, and trying to fix it all in a few short months is like trying to apply a Flinstones bandaid to skin cancer. That's all I have to say today. Back to the news, and out to some gardens to make a living, now that the sun's broken through the clouds.

1 comment:

robrohr said...

From an economic perspective, the time limits make sense.

From your analogy, the economy has cancer, and further indebtedness is only helpful if it is applied quickly enough to provide a jolt to aforementioned economy.

If we let the normal bureaucratic process take place while we decide whether or not St. Joseph's Aspirin will work when applied to the economic cancer, the window when treatment would be effective will close and we're left treating a corpse rather than a life threatening ailment.

Granted, subverting the deliberative process invites graft and corruption, but sadly, graft and corruption are good for the economy.