December 13, 2008

Obamajobs: yup, filling potholes

The Washington Post catches up to what I've been saying all along:

Stimulus Package to First Pay for Routine Repairs

President-elect Barack Obama calls it "the largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s." New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg compares it to the New Deal -- when workers built hundreds of bridges, dams and parkways -- while saying it could help close the gap with China, where he recently traveled on a Shanghai train at 267 mph.

Most of the infrastructure spending being proposed for the massive stimulus package that Obama and congressional Democrats are readying, however, is not exactly the stuff of history, but destined for routine projects that have been on the to-do lists of state highway departments for years. Oklahoma wants to repave stretches of Interstates 35 and 40 and build "cable barriers" to keep wayward cars from crossing medians. New Jersey wants to repaint 88 bridges and restore Route 35 from Toms River to Mantoloking. Scottsdale, Ariz., wants to widen 1.5 miles of Scottsdale Road.

On the campaign trail, Obama said he would "rebuild America" with an "infrastructure bank" run by a new board that would award $60 billion over a decade to projects such as high-speed rail to take the country in a more energy-efficient direction. But the crumbling economy, while giving impetus to big spending plans, has also put a new emphasis on projects that can be started immediately -- "use it or lose it," Obama said last week -- and created a clear tension between the need to create jobs fast and the desire for a lasting legacy.

"It doesn't have the power to stir men's souls," said David Goldberg of Smart Growth America. "Repair and maintenance are good. We need to make sure we're building bridges that stand, not bridges to nowhere. But to gild the lily . . . where we're resurfacing pieces of road that aren't that critical, just to be able to say we spent the money, is not what we're after."

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is proud that his city was able to quickly rebuild the Interstate 35 bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River in 2007 while making sure to include capacity for a future transit line on it. But he worries that many of the road and bridge upgrades around the country will not be done in a similarly farsighted way, given the time pressures.

"The quickest things we can do may not be the ones that have the most significant long-term impact on the green economy," he said. "Unless we push a transit investment, this will end up being a stimulus package that rebalances our transportation strategy toward roads and away from [what] we need to get off our addiction to oil."

In other words, under Obama's "use it or lose it" rule, we'll end up doing right away a whole lot of things like repainting bridges that didn't seem worth doing back when we had lots of money.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

29 comments:

PrestoPundit said...

The mayor of Los Angeles has been running a "national economic recovery program" for all these years and nobody knew it!

(Tony Villa is on a crusade to fill 1,000,000 pot holes in Los Angeles -- many of them filled himself, posing for cameras.)

Mr. Anon said...

"New Jersey wants to repaint 88 bridges and restore Route 35 from Toms River to Mantoloking. Scottsdale, Ariz., wants to widen 1.5 miles of Scottsdale Road."

Yes, this is the stuff of history. Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, Peter the Great,.....Obama the Magnificent.

Perhaps we could also put a coat of green paint on the dried up, dead lawns in front of all those foreclosed houses.

SFG said...

From what I remember, doesn't painting bridges guard against corrosion? Some other oxide keeping the oxygen from the iron and all that.

Hey, it'll provide blue collar jobs, and at least some of those are going to go to white working class males. Or is that only a good idea when Republicans are doing it? ;)

Anonymous said...

"The quickest things we can do may not be the ones that have the most significant long-term impact on the green economy," he said.

The vigor with which they're pushing the green meme down our throats seems to have intensified in the last few months. It's like Boasian anthropology after WWII, women's lib in the late 60s/early 70s, etc. I think we're witnessing something historically bad happening here. Another layer of BS is being added to the enormous pile that's already sitting there.

To recap: there have been lots of natural global warmings and coolings in past centuries and millenia. This particular one appears to be petering out. Predictions of "the end of oil" were already being made in the 1910s. They never come true. Alberta, Canada seems to have as much oil in its tar sands as Saudi Arabia. This tar sand oil is yet largely unexploited.

The green meme cannot be anything but politics. I guess they're trying to take away money from Arab sheiks, Putin and others. And perhaps, down the road, they're hoping to hurt the Chinese and their industrial economy with this? Any other ideas on what's really behind the green meme are welcome, by the way.

Anonymous said...

If the federal government is going to vomit money, I think that repainted bridges and repaved roads are about the least harmful ways to do it.

It's either that or ethanol and hiring more bureaucrats who will never go away .

Ron said...

"New Jersey wants to repaint 88 bridges and restore Route 35 from Toms River to Mantoloking."

There is nothing wrong with this stretch of road, but there are plenty of rich people who live there and contribute lots of money to Democrats.

Of course Obama can say he is getting rid of "pork" when he's going to approve every pork barrel project in the entire nation under the guise of infrastructure.

Red Wine said...

Obama is untouchable. He has a 24k smile. It's a totally Hwood smile; mesmerizing; dreamy.

I'm a liberal and I love him. We're going to allow him more than two terms just like with Bloomberg. Term limits are for red state morons.

Do you all understand how great this continent can be with the white power structure removed?

Anonymous said...

The vigor with which they're pushing the green meme down our throats seems to have intensified in the last few months.

Follow the money. In this instance, "carbon credits". Their grand plan is to "securitize" carbon emissions, just like subprime loans previously.

Then this parasite useless eater class can proceed to rake off most of the cash flow up front. I hope no one is so naive as to believe these people have been shocked into some sort of morality by the current crisis. They're just looking for a new way to play their same paper flipping game.

Look close at Rod and Patti Blagojevich. The only way they were atypical was in ceasing to be "team players".

Mr. Anon said...

"SFG said...

From what I remember, doesn't painting bridges guard against corrosion? Some other oxide keeping the oxygen from the iron and all that."

Sure, it's a good thing to do. It ought to be done as a matter of routine maintenance. It should not require a New Deal.

"The green meme cannot be anything but politics. ........Any other ideas on what's really behind the green meme are welcome, by the way."

Insanity? Environmentalism is the Marxism of the 21st century. I expect the enviros to start killing people, eventually.

Anonymous said...

In NJ, we have far, far greater road problems than unpainted bridges. It now costs $0.50 to go from county to county on the Parkway (just like the Middle Ages!) and gridlock in the eastern half is unbearable. You wanna make a difference? Have NJ and NY get together to rebuild the Pulaski. And I'll eat my shoe if the % of these jobs going to native English speakers is in the double digits--a fact of which I'm sure Barry is well aware. Infrastructure repair as Hispandering, clever idea.

Anonymous said...

Filling potholes may be fine, necessary and worthy. I don't know. But commissioning gifted architects to create a few beautiful, innovative and iconic structures (or restoring historic buildings), would do a great deal for the morale and sense of identity of the nation. If money is going to be spent - it might as well be spent on genuine renewal - rather than just patching up the old.

Think of the "bird's nest" Olympic stadium and the new airport in Beijing; or the superb Millau Viaduct in France and the creative projects which brought renewal to the cities of Barcelona, Berlin and London in the 80s and 90s. Okay times are harder, but still ... a little imagination never hurt anyone.

Lloyd G. said...

Isn't there some road construction workers' union out there that doesn't like the idea of make-work jobs program people doing stuff for cheap?

headache said...

"New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ... while saying it could help close the gap with China, where he recently traveled on a Shanghai train at 267 mph."

Blooberg is sucking to Obama for extra tax dollars, or for a job. That 267 mph train is the German maglev known as Transrapid. Its the only section of that train ever built Here in Germany pols perpetually fawn over this machine, which was developed 20 years ago, but nobody wants to invest a penny into it save for a few conservatives in Bavaria who got roasted because it turned out to be much more expensive than anticipated. Bloomberg confirms the modern pol who perpetually talks bullshit.

headache said...

"From what I remember, doesn't painting bridges guard against corrosion? "

Old tech there. Modern bridges are built using metals with thin anti-corrosion surfacing. Anyway, it’s about that demi-God Obama so why worry about the technical particulars. These modern day black saviours never bothered with mundane engineering issues which are the domain of undersexed and boring white males. It was always about the greater political morals, whatever they were.

headache said...

"The quickest things we can do may not be the ones that have the most significant long-term impact on the green economy," he said."

The lie about green tech is that it takes significant R&D investments over a long period to make anything useful of it, unless firing your heating system with wood is considered progress. Germany has been on this green trip for at least a decade by now, and many investments were money down the drain. The impetus in Germany is that the country is densely populated qwith lots of industry and chemicals were causing sicknesses. So in a way that green ideology there makes sense. But most green technologies are simply overpriced. They cannot compete with current oil prices, not even pre-housing crisis.

Obama is dreaming if he wants to develop new green technologies by 2010 that are not crap. It will take at least 10 years and only benefit a few thousand people till then. Once we really hit peak oil, or the Arabs cut off the supplies, then green tech becomes viable. Of course a prudent administration would try and make them viable today in order to get of the Saudi teat, but then most western governments are in bed with Islam, so don't hold your breath. They’d rather pour money down the green drain in order to look good whilst increasing our dependence on Islamists, for whatever reason I still don’t understand.

headache said...

Anon sed:
"Any other ideas on what's really behind the green meme are welcome, by the way."
Good points there! I have been thinking about this green meme for a while myself. I'm trying to get together a heating system for my old folks in South Africa and am trying to find a cost-effective alternative to oil. That’s what got me thinking.

I also think it’s a clever ploy by western strategists to make the West more independent of the Saudi's and Putin. It saves them having to say something direct which is then exploited by left-wing parties, the media and their Arab financiers. Dunno about China since they're not energy exporters. In addition, once you change your economy over to a green tech like electrical cars, that cuts down the competition massively. Few will be able to compete in that growth market for quite a while, especially if key technologies are involved. I assume that only a dozen Automakers from Germany, France, Japan and the US will be able to supply vehicles. I think sheiks are seriously worried about the switch to electrical cars announced in Germany and France. That's a huge blow to their strategic outlook. Of course they will continue to make money with oil for planes, chemicals and other stuff, and oil for the Third World, but their Ace was having Western nations in their palm. With electrical cars, nuclear energy and modern chemical processes developed by Bayer and BASF which use non-oil input, this power disappear. Sheiks do not have innovative centres or populations largely because Islam does not bring out the creativity in people like Christianity or Judaism does. So what are they going to do to hold the West at its balls?

As for Russia: Obviously it’s in Western Europe's interest to get off Russian gas. On the other hand Russia needs that western money more than the other way round. I cannot tell what the strategic payoff would be for Russia to militarily invade Western Europe and then hope they can make those Germans work for them, or whether it’s better to just make peace with Europe and sell them gas in exchange for technology.

steve wood said...

The first question, as others have pointed out in similar threads, is whether the jobs will be limited to US citizens. Probably not.

But let's say they are. This will offer a fantastic opportunity to test the theory, popular among nativists, that, if you pay a fair wage, OF COURSE Americans will be happy to do back-breaking manual labor in the blazing heat and freezing cold. Let's say these jobs pay $15/hour - not a bad wage for work that requires nothing but a strong back and the ability to show up for work every day - how many Americans will want the jobs and how reliable will these workers be, especially if unemployment never exceeds, say, 10-12%?

steve wood said...

The vigor with which they're pushing the green meme down our throats seems to have intensified in the last few months

Oh my God, yes! Last night I watched a special on the History Channel comparing the current crash to 1929 and assessing the likelihood of anything like another Great Depression.* Couch potato that I am, I sat through the next program, a two-hour special on FDR. There was ad after ad for an outfit called Repower America (a subsidiary of Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection ), all of them featuring very non-SWPL images to prove that regular people want to be green, too. And there were ads from Shell, all focused on how they were helping American go green, too. Yee-ha!

We are now at the point where “being green” is considered a self-evident, non-controversial good thing that all right-thinking people naturally want to do. Try saying something non-green in a social setting; most people will look blank and ignore your comment, as though you had suggested that the sun rises in the west. A few fanatics will “argue” with you, but there will be no discussion of facts, only accusations of heresy.

I do think, however, that if the economy really tanks - I mean 1930s-level poverty - a lot of the gas will go out of the green movement.

*For those who wonder, the program praised FDR for lifting the country's spirit and giving people useful work to do; but they were honest about the fact that the economy languished for his entire first two terms and was only rescued by WWII.

American Goy said...

This is the new New Deal.

Personally I do not see what else he can do, other than appoint special counsels and prosecute the criminals from the shady money world.

Will never happen.

Also, love how NPR and media paid propaganda specialists orgasmed over Shinseki getting appointed by Obama.

Change, huzzah, etc etc!

But Gates, he of the war in Iraq occupation, staying put and doing same thing he did under 'W' - this is a non story.

Move along, move along...

American Goy said...

The green meme seems to me to be a con for companies to buy carbon deficit credits.

Meaning you can pollute and kill Americans who live near your factory, but if you pay the government, it's all cool yo.

And yes, I am mostly a (cynical, socialistic) liberal in most of my views.

John Craig said...

I'm not quite sure I buy this "guns and butter" school of thought. If repaving streets is the path to economic recovery, then by all rights the Iraq War should have solved our economic problems as well. After all, we're paying lots of soldiers to fight the war, or at least be in uniform, and we're paying very good money to the defense companies which build the fighter jets and so on which we're using over there. And now that we have two wars, since Afghanistan is showing no signs of winding down, we should be rich. I can't wait till Obama sends troops to Africa on some peacekeeping mission, we'll all be millionaires.

rob said...

I think the most humorous thing to come out of Obama's infrastructure blah blah is the feminists whinging that most of the jobs will go to men. Since women don't like to do construction, Obama needs to have a social work stimulus too.

Anonymous said...


"But commissioning gifted architects to create a few beautiful, innovative and iconic structures (or restoring historic buildings), would do a great deal for the morale and sense of identity of the nation."

No, it wouldn't. The art of architecture has died long ago. Two types of un-artistic architecture have survived: ugly utilitarian stuff and uglier modernist show-off stuff. The examples you cited belong to the second category. The public hates both kinds of modern architecture. 99.9% of non-architects agree: the absolute worst-looking 19th century buildings look better than the absolute best post-1950 buildings.

I'm guessing that no one working in that field now could design beautiful new buildings even if they wanted to. The relevant skills must have been lost long ago. Also, the people who love beauty and have a natural talent for creating it haven't been going into architecture in decades. They've been going into other professions.

In other words, I hope that your hope doesn't come true.

Speaking of "the sense of identity of the nation": if the Capitol was being designed today, would it have sewer pipes on the outside? Flat, unpainted concrete walls? And if it were painted would it be painted hot pink? You know, to give a metaphorical finger to the male power structure that resides in the building?

This are the only kinds of things they ever mean by the word "innovative".

goldilocks said...

Oh, the feminists, as an organized movement, are out of gas for now.

The angry ones are irrelevant, and the winsome ones are too busy being winsome to get anything done.

Obama doesn't give a rats-arse about them, cuz he doesn't have to.

That being said, of COURSE there will be more social-work jobs. It's a pretty cheap and easy way to pay off some over-educated party loyalists.

headache said...

"the absolute worst-looking 19th century buildings look better than the absolute best post-1950 buildings. "

Anon U nailed it! I fully agree with everything you wrote. U can see this here in Germany where everything built after 1914 is basically crap. Even the Nazi architecture, which was pompous and anti-traditional, is better than the modernist crap being designed by overrated "architects" like Norman Foster who are really just marketing people. The idea of binding together a nation that's falling apart because of conscious racial instigation and usurpation is nuts anyway. Obama and co are out to bust WASP America, so what's there to bind together?

Half Sigma said...

"Scottsdale, Ariz., wants to widen 1.5 miles of Scottsdale Road."

As someone who used to live there, there was quite a traffic jam on that road during the rush hour, so it's certainly in need of a widening.

Anonymous said...

I wrote "or restoring historic buildings", because I also prefer old buildings and believe they should be preserved. As far as "modern" architecture goes, I guess I had the Chrysler Building partly in mind, built 1928-30 (ie during "that" depression), in addition to more contemporary offerings. I agree that too many architects are now producing ugly, inhumane and over-rated buildings - Gehry, Rogers and Suskind among them. But I think it's wrong to dismiss all contemporary architecture as bad.

It's probable that our societies have become too diverse to be united. But just because many of the values of Western civilization are under siege doesn't mean that we should give up hope; not least that architects can still come up with structures worthy of our ancestors, even if they no longer follow classical form. I for one believe those old Roman viaduct builders would be pretty impressed by the Millau bridge.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous who wrote that rant about modern architecture. Yes, I like the Chrysler building too. Who doesn't? By the way, after Chrysler my favorite building in New York is the Municipal Building downtown. Number three - probably the central NYC Library branch on 40th St. Some time ago I was surprised by the results of a poll of architects about their favorite Manhattan building. The Chrysler came out on top. I thought that was what regular people were supposed to like, not professionals.

"I for one believe those old Roman viaduct builders would be pretty impressed by the Millau bridge."

For the engineering involved - yes. Aesthetically - I don't think so. The least bad recent high-profile building seems to be this hotel in Dubai.

Anonymous said...

Im sure a general road upgrade is a good idea.

But a rail upgrade would be good too. Forget that maglev nonsense though.

Just upgrading the standard long distance track would reap rewards. Faster average speeds would mean more trucks off the roads and maybe more passenger trains too, fewer flights being the trad-off.