Mona Charen

As for that section of the stimulus that does deal with infrastructure, an Associated Press study of 5,500 planned transportation projects has found that stimulus cash is flowing less to counties with high unemployment rates and more to those with lower unemployment. "Altogether, the government is set to spend 50 percent more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than it will in communities with the highest."

If you wonder how the government could be so inept as to fail to target aid toward those most in need, you might want to consider that when politicians make decisions, they tend to be politically motivated. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has assembled a list of 100 stimulus recipients. Here's an instructive one: The John Murtha Airport in Johnstown/Cambria County, Pa., will receive $800,000 in economic stimulus funds to repave the backup runway, though only about 20 people a day use the airport. How odd.

The Social Security Administration admits that it mailed out 10,000 checks (using stimulus funds) to "deceased persons." The SSA blamed pressure to spend the money quickly.

A non-existent lake in Oklahoma is going to get $1 million for a guardrail.

Union, N.Y., (population 56,000) was notified that it would be receiving a $578,661 stimulus grant to prevent homelessness. The town fathers were nonplussed as 1) they had never applied for the grant, and 2) they do not have a homelessness problem. But note the number: It's so non-round, so specific. Is there a department at HUD responsible for inventing plausible-sounding numbers?

The state of Wisconsin, Coburn reports, has 1,256 structurally deficient bridges, more than Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska combined. Yet no stimulus funds are flowing to repair those bridges. Instead, the feds are sending $15.8 million in transportation stimulus money to repair 37 rural bridges that hardly anyone uses. Why? It seems the rural projects were more "shovel-ready" and got pushed to the head of the queue.

But perhaps the most emblematic example of your tax dollars at work is this one: Road signs are being purchased at a cost of $300 apiece advertising that "This construction project" is being paid for with stimulus funds. Illinois alone has already spent $150,000 on such signs.

Yes, it's obvious that we need more of this.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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