Paving the road to nowhere, one word at a time.

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Location: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

American born, living in Mexico since 1992.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Stimulus Miracle: Chapter Twelve - The Road Home

We come to another interesting section of this bill, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Sexy. First up, the airports are going to get 3 billion dollars for discretionary projects. Most people would settle for improvements in luggage handling, but they're going to use discretion. Like when they take away your shampoo. You terrorist. You're probably better off driving, especially now with 30 billion dollars going into highway infrastructure. Oh, all of those new shiny roads! Except that it takes a long time to build roads. A really long time. But the old roads still are pretty damned good. People from the U.S. sometimes complain about their roads to me. I tell them to drive in Mexico for a few days. And the roads here are way better than they used to be. You have no idea.

If you can't wait for the new roads to be built, just take a train! The railroads are getting 300 million to maintenance their tracks and stuff, and Amtrak gets another 800 million for maintenance, but know that "none of the funds under this heading shall be used to subsidize the operating losses of Amtrak". Of course not. Now Amtrak can take the money they had set aside to repair the tracks and use them to offset their operating losses.

The Federal Transit Administration is slated to receive 6 billion, most of which has to go toward urban transit. That would be busses and subways and so on. Nothing specific. Then they get another 2 billion for use in "fixed guideway" systems, which are ostensibly certain subway systems, or other forms of fixed transit. And then they get another 1 billion for the same thing, except that it has to go into projects already under construction (that should narrow things down, so you'll know which lobbyist to thank for that one).

Public Housing gets a 5 billion dollar boost, providing cheap rent to poor people, while 2.5 billion is going into energy retrofit projects for people already in Section 8 housing. This is because the elderly and the disabled who aren't poor enough to qualify for the cheap electricity back in a previous chapter, but are still somehow able to qualify for section 8 housing, should get an energy retrofit. The bill stipulates "that the Secretary may set aside funds made available under this heading for an efficiency incentive payable upon satisfactory completion of energy retrofit investments, and may provide additional incentives if such investments resulted in extraordinary job creation for low-income and very low income persons". In other words, if you're a poor electrician, you're in luck. And you're hired.

Native American housing gets another 500 million because those damned casinos are so stingy, while the Community Development Fund receives 1 billion ostensibly as HUD money in order to force poor people to own homes. They get 4.19 billion more to get poor people into already abandoned and/or foreclosed homes, because nobody likes a vacant house. Then, because HUD is so damned good at it, 1.5 billion goes toward the Home Investment Partnership Program, which encourages poor people to rent. After 10 million for the "Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program" (please invent an acronym for this soon, it's long), we get to the Homeless Assistance Grants, which requires 1.5 billion. Usually the homeless are happy with a couple of dollars at a time, and now the bastards are getting greedy.

The "Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control" (Are you shitting me? This is a real office?) needs 100 million because apparently some people haven't figured out that lead is bad. BAD! The rest of this section is all about transparency. There will be reports issued. And there will be reports on the reports. And someone will have to report on the state of the report about the reports. It's the government, stupid.

Well, that was fun. And nice and pricey. We're up to 291.804 billion, but now the homeless are rich!

Next: Chapter Thirteen – Stop Shaking


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