... or how statism eventually swallowed itself whole.
Let's hit the way back machine, shall we, to just over two years ago when Congressional hearings were being held with respect to just how Porkulus (or in more civil circles, the American Recovery Act, was going to be shaped.
Dr. Robert Reich and Rep. Chuckie Rangel, the floor is yours:
So, what do we have: "high social return"... "white male construction workers" (not so much)... "the long-termed unemployed, minorities and women"... "formulas and criterias" (i.e. mandated wealth redistribution), etc., etc...
And let's not forget this:
Last November, President-elect Obama addressed the devastation in the construction and manufacturing industries by proposing an ambitious New Deal-like program to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. He called for a two-year "shovel ready" stimulus program to modernize roads, bridges, schools, electrical grids, public transportation, and dams and made reinvigorating the hardest-hit sectors of the economy the goal of the legislation that would become the recovery act.
Women's groups were appalled. Grids? Dams? Opinion pieces immediately appeared in major newspapers with titles like "Where are the New Jobs for Women?" and "The Macho Stimulus Plan." A group of "notable feminist economists" circulated a petition that quickly garnered more than 600 signatures, calling on the president-elect to add projects in health, child care, education, and social services and to "institute apprenticeships" to train women for "at least one third" of the infrastructure jobs. At the same time, more than 1,000 feminist historians signed an open letter urging Obama not to favor a "heavily male-dominated field" like construction: "We need to rebuild not only concrete and steel bridges but also human bridges." As soon as these groups became aware of each other, they formed an anti-stimulus plan action group called WEAVE--
Women's Equality Adds Value to the Economy.
Taken in toto and given the apparent stated priorities in crafting the legislation for Porkulus, is it any wonder it failed spectacularly? This was never really about jobs or maybe it was but only in as much as those jobs were created for the purpose of a "high social return", whatever the hell that means.
Listen again to Rangel: he isn't interested in job creation but rather kickbacks to his constituents.
Porkulus will forever stand as a near $1 trillion monument to tax-payer-funded give-aways from the ruling class to the favored-status class.
It's interesting to note both Rangel and Reich whining about those pesky state legislators. State legislators and a dense and complex web of bureaucracies and regulations set up by the same that are blocking the money from getting to where Rangel and Reich, er... the formulas and criterias determine.
Imagine that: the statists' dream of "stimulating" a recessed economy via demand-side Keynesian economics completely choked off by a bureacratic and regulatory regime built-up over the years by the very same statists.
* The photo was taken while traveling through southern Colorado last fall. If you enlarge it you can make out a signal man on the right hand side of the road and a signal man in the distance for traffic coming in the opposite direction. One problem: there was no work going on. Zip. Zero. Nada. Two dudes slowing traffic down for no reason whatsoever. Right before we came up on them, we were greeted by one those Porkulus road signs.
In our mind, this picture remains the enduring image of Porkulus.