Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"Stimulating" Pawtucket

I was listening to Obama extolling the health care public option before a hand picked crowd of union members last evening when he came forth with a over used mantra. "If you have a better idea, where is it?" Well, there are better ideas out there. The Wyden Bennett Health Reform Plan for one. I would throw a question back at him, "Why is it being ignored?"

The push for a "public" (read government run) option confounds me. So many people are against it. The reason goes far deeper than the plan itself, but the apparent idiosyncrasies of other government plans the Obama administration has come up with. Like the "stimulus" bill.

Also on last night's news, regarding government run plans, is $550,000 in stimulus money that must be spent on a "shovel ready" project in the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It is going to be used for a skateboard park! It will employ contractors and laborers, materials will be purchased and lunches eaten at local eateries. My question is then what? How long does it take to build a skateboard park in the grand scheme of creating jobs? Sustainable jobs.

A story in the Providence Journal, by Michael McKinney, points out Pawtucket has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in Rhode Island not to mention a $10 million budget deficit.

They've wanted a skateboard park for the kids for years. One has to wonder how many of them still have homes. The stimulus money can only be used for Community Development grant projects. While both the police and fire departments have needs, they cannot get a piece of the pie.

Were cities given the flexibility to spend dollars on their most pressing needs, I'm sure there would be abuses, but still...

The city is facing a $5.2 million school budget deficit and with a $4.8 million shortfall on the municipal side, 40 city jobs have been lost.

$550,000 may not sound like a lot, but I can't help wonder if it could be better used to maintain those 40 city jobs that are probably full time and long term, not to mention the needs of the fire and police departments. Are they not worth saving compared to the 30 to 40 jobs estimated to build the skateboard park that are project specific?

I understand trying to create jobs for those who sorely need them; I'm just not convinced make work on a temporary basis is the way to do it.

The inflexibility is what concerns me. Will it be the same in government run health care? I would guess so. Patient needs will be at the mercy of those setting the rules. Congress no doubt. If that doesn't frighten you nothing will. Should it become reality we won't be skatingboarding in a park built with stimulus dollars, we'll be skating on thin ice!


Word Tosser said...

This goes along with the fountain that was built in New Orleans before the hurricane, with Home Security money. And none spent on the dam walls that were old and needed updating.... I wonder how many lives where saved by that fountain... I don't recall seeing pictures of any of the people standing on the founation to keep above the water..

Peggy said...

This kind of stuff just makes me mad. What happened to full disclosure. I just don't trust Washington anymore!
Thanks for your post, I needed to get mad again!