Tad DeHaven

Hawaiians Don’t Wait for Government - Rebuild Road

The spirit of 1776 is alive and well in Kauai:

Their livelihood was being threatened, and they were tired of waiting for government help, so business owners and residents on Hawaii’s Kauai island pulled together and completed a $4 million repair job to a state park — for free.

“We can wait around for the state or federal government to make this move, or we can go out and do our part,” Slack said. “Just like everyone’s sitting around waiting for a stimulus check, we were waiting for this but decided we couldn’t wait anymore.”

It’s amazing what a little private initiative and economic incentive can do.  Contrast this story with that of a bridge being built to connect Microsoft campuses in Redmond, WA with federal “stimulus” money.

Republicans, Democrats, and Appropriators…and Pork

I’m sympathetic to the oft-repeated saying that there are really three parties in Washington: Republicans, Democrats, and Appropriators.  This situation is likely to be demonstrated this evening when Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee provide enough votes for Democratic Sen. Harry Reid to close off debate and proceed to final passage of the pork-laden $410 billion fy2009 omnibus appropriations bill.

Greasing the skids for bigger government will be almost $8 billion in earmarks contained in the bill.  Fox News is pointing out that almost all of the Republican Senators expected or likely to support the Democratic measure stand to deliver quite a bit of pork to constituents and special interests.  Not coincidentally, all of the senators named, except Sen. Snowe of Maine, are appropriators.  As a matter of fact, if you look at the top 20 senators (both parties) in terms of dollars of earmarks secured for this bill, 15 are appropriators.

Bottom line: Appropriators love spending and they particularly love pork.  Sen. Snowe just likes the government spending other people’s money.

HUD the Dud

Last week I blogged on President Obama’s “stimulus” rally prop Henrietta Hughes — a.k.a. “the face of the economic crisis.” Ms. Hughes and her son, who were homeless, asked our messianic president to help them since they’ve been stuck on a two-year waiting list at the Fort Myers, Fl., public housing authority. Using the government’s own numbers, I was able to determine that Fort Myers and surrounding Lee County received almost $70 million in U.S. Housing & Urban Development (HUD) money in the past three years. Some $41 million — or $600 per man, woman, and child in Fort Myers — went to the city’s public housing authority alone.

I concluded that HUD’s inspector general should investigate what the housing authority is doing with all that taxpayer change. And if a story coming out of Las Vegas about its public housing authority is any indicator, there’s a good chance a lack of federal funding wasn’t the problem in Fort Myers. According to the Las Vegas Sun,

The Shape of Waste to Come

House Democrats have released a $825 billion plan to “stimulate” the nation’s economy. After reading through the 13-page press release, it is blatantly obvious to me that the proposal is nothing more than a conglomeration of traditional special interest favorites. Education pork? Check. Science pork? Check. Transportation pork? Check. Pork for state and local governments? Check and check.

Cato scholars have written extensively on most of the plan’s components at one time or another. For instance, anyone interested in the alleged stimulative power of more federal dollars being spent on higher education should check out Neal McCluskey’s post from Friday. Or see Chris Edwards and Peter Van Doren on infrastructure spending in this nifty piece.

In no particular order, I thought I’d pick out some of the programs targeted for “stimulating” and provide an example of how taxpayers can expect their money to be spent. Lest anyone think I’m cherry-picking, the following hardly scratches the surface:

“Too Tasty to Fail”

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — housed at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce because Dick Nixon wasn’t getting along with his own Secretary of the Interior — has determined that the decline in the harvest of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs is a “commercial fishery failure.”  With that declaration by the “stewards” of the nation’s fisheries, Chesapeake crab fishermen are looking at a bailout (popular word these days) of up to 15 million taxpayer dollars over the next three years.

The Examiner reports that Maryland Watermen’s Association President Larry Simns and his members were “elated.”  Go figure.  Simns says that this is not a handout because the money would be used to put the crabbers to work restoring fisheries, planting trees, etc.  Perhaps they can staff the exhibits at the NOAA-partnered Smithsonian Institution’s “Ocean Hall” opening this weekend too.

What kind of message does this latest government intervention send to other commercial fishermen?  Overfish, deplete your source of income, and the taxpayer will numb your pain.  Of course, NOAA bureaucrats will then cite resulting fishery depletions as justification for a budget increase.  Big Government 101.

Survey Shows Two-Thirds of Federal Managers in Denial

Govexec.com reports that one-third of recently surveyed federal managers believe “government misuses taxpayer dollars.”  While I applaud this bunch for their honesty, I’m stupefied that any federal manager would say otherwise.  One need only peruse the morning news to see that Uncle Sam’s spawn fritter away taxpayer dollars incessantly.  (I wonder how a manager at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would vote.)  Even more disturbing, a survey of the general public conducted by the same outfit found that only 42% of respondents believe government wastes money.  (I’m holding out hope this survey was conducted in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.)

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