Nor does the allocation of stimulus funds appear to bear any relation to unemployment levels. North Dakota, with an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, reports 356 jobs "saved or created" with stimulus funds, more than many states with high unemployment rates. That is, if we can trust the data. It's important to bear in mind when discussing these numbers that large numbers of grantees listed on the administration's website Recovery.org (10 congressional districts in Ohio, one in Connecticut, several in Iowa and South Carolina) have proven to be nonexistent.
Some private contractors have done handsomely, though. Mark Penn, the Democratic pollster, received a contract worth $5.97 million to work on a public relations campaign to promote the national transition from analog to digital television. His firm worked for 39 days to "bolster the reach, penetration and impact of the FCC's DTV readiness messages in selected markets, specifically among the groups that had been determined to be the most at risk." It saved three jobs!
Yes, everybody does it, and Republicans are not pure either. But that's not the whole story. Conservative voters, unlike many Democrats, do not regard government as a scramble for booty. When Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., exchanged his vote on health care for a deal that would exempt Nebraska from Medicaid increases in perpetuity, only 17 percent of the voters in that conservative state approved. Nelson, who won with 64 percent of the vote in 2004, is now trailing his likely opponent by 30 points. The Republican Gov. David Heineman spoke for his state when he told Politico, "The last few days have made Nebraskans so angry that now it's a matter of principle. The federal government can keep that money."
There is no way to make government decision-making anything other than political. As James Madison reminded us, governments would not be necessary if men were angels. The best course is what the Democrats most aim to thwart -- limiting the scope of the state and its aggrandizing tendencies.
We're not Mexico, but we have corruption, all right.