October 4, 2009

The $25 million jailhouse

Congressional strategies to win favor for “stimulus” monies as a way to solve our economic woes have met with mixed results. Doubtless there has been some success; otherwise, we suspect there’d be a whole lot more hoopla over the insanity of spending money that we don't have. This wrong-headed strategy arose last fall in an effort to “jump start” the economy by spending enormous amounts of money – trying to rejuvenate the stock markets and get people back to work.

Well, since the Treasury Department prints it, we’d have to concede that the money’s there. But so is the debt……and it’ll be there for generations to come.

One of the real casualties of this fiasco is common sense, which has been smothered by the availability of TARP funds. When you and I overspend the family budget and realize that we’re in a world of hurt, common sense tells us that it’s not time to go out and buy a new car. But that's the kind of logic employed by the administration and Congress.

By spreading the money around – everything from the "Clunkers" program to public works projects – Congress has deflected much of the criticism that they really deserve.

Take, for example, the $25 million grant for a jail on the Rosebud Reservation here in South Dakota. I suspect that closer scrutiny of the project would result in determining that there is questionable need for such a facility – at least, not $25 million. And already, tribal officials express concern that they may not have enough money to operate the facility!

There are real needs in our American Indian communities, but this “economic stimulus” fiasco would be easier to stomach if it were for a facility focused on education and training – one with a thoughtful road map and the funds necessary to operate it.

But both on and off the reservations, it seems easier to just take the money – pat yourself on the back for getting it – and ignoring both common sense…… and future generations. They’re the ones who’ll have to pay for it.

I used to avoid writing about the economy lest it becomes obvious that I don’t fully understand it. However, it’s become painfully clear that Congress and many government bureaucrats don’t
have a clue either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I cannot comment on the worthiness of the $25 Mil spent on the reservation jail, although it does seem excessive, but it pales compared to the hundreds of billions given to the banks last fall in the TARP program. The latest Vanityfare magazine has a good synopsis on how Henry Paulson gave away so much money to banks with a two page, fill-in-the-blank application with no real restrictions on how the funds were accounted for or used. Some of the banks did not need the money and certainly did not use it to stimulate the economy, but used the windfall to buy other things, such as smaller banks, Merrill Lynch, and employee bonuses and junkets. The article is available online at www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/10/bailout200910. Thanks, Larry, for the great blog site.