The TV news this morning had a teaser for a story we didn't hang around long enough to hear: the transportation stimulus money has evidently not gone to the kinds of projects that the lawmakers intended raising fears that the 'recovery' would be delayed as a result. I wonder if this MSNBC story is what they were going to talk about. They handed out this money to the various states to use without any real direction on what to use it for and they are now surprised that the rural areas are getting better than half of the money when two thirds of the population live in urban areas. I am not surprised. I have watched the tug of war between rural and urban areas over the distribution of money in every state I have lived in. Why should this be any different? Add in the deadline for receiving the money and and the lack of clear language on how it should be spent and, of course, the money is going where ever they can throw it first and to whoever has the loudest voices or most clout in the state legislatures. DUH!!!
A related story on the morning news concerned the education money from the stimulus. A lot of that is also not going for the kinds of projects the national legislators intended, i.e. new schools. They gave mention to Flint, Michigan, (I think) where the money has been used to simply keep the system going--never mind building new. They said that city had not built a new school in something like 30 years. I wonder what kind of population growth (or not) the city has had over that time period. Many rust belt cities have lost population. Do they really need to build new schools?
For some more on the kinds of choices local and state governments have been forced to make take a look at this story.
Then there is the continuing fiscal soap opera in California. Governor Schwartzeneger and the legislature have been at loggerheads for some time now over the budget which at a $26+ billion deficit. The state started issuing IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression. Now some of the biggest recipients of the banking bailout money are threatening to refuse to accept them. They hope to force the Governor and legislators to come to some kind of a final budget. Of course, they are also hoping to avoid being painted at the hard-hearted bastards they are and a spokesperson for the banking association suggested that they might arrange short term loans and lines of credit for their customers who are going to be given the IOUs that can be repaid in October (with interest) when, everyone hopes, the budget mess will be straightened out. Such generosity leaves me absolutely underwhelmed.
Then there is this story which I found via a link on one of my google searches. As I read this, aloud so Mom could hear what it said, we began to think about what we would need the next time we had to get our driver's licences renewed. If we are reading this story right we would have to take at least three documents to the licence bureau. Motor Vehicles Bureau personnel justify the requirement as a way of preventing identity theft. I rather doubt it will be all that effective. The criminals who make a living stealing other people's identities will surely be able to come up with fake birth certificates, fake social security numbers, and fake bills or what ever other fake document they need. Wait a minute--haven't they already done that? This is just another royal pain in the ass for me and another fake deterrent for the criminals.