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Planning for What

This post was such a dog bites man story that I never bothered to write anything of substance to go with it. One thought did occur to me the other day however. The stimulus (rightly IMO) is being criticized for not doing much to help the aging infrastructure in the U.S. though that was one major prong of the pitch for the stimulus. In fact, it was a major prong of government policy before the stimulus plan.

So I actually am somewhat surprised that so little of the stimulus made its way into infrastructure projects that really need them, and rather went into “repairing” works that were in no way near needing repair. Perhaps this question is not rhetorical: how is it possible that the projects that were “shovel-ready” and required little planning were those that were nowhere on any governmental horizon for repair work? And how come after the tragic bridge accident in Minnesota, and all the attention paid to aging infrastructure, that those projects were not lined up first for work long before there was any idea of a stimulus or recession? Where are the state transportation authorities’ priorities?

And here is another question that haunts me. The folks defending this graft are arguing that we should not expect much rapid progress to repair an aging infrastructure because all of that takes planning and coordinating and evaluating and time to get the right people in place and so forth. And I totally believe that (really, that is not a sarcastic comment). What horrifies me then is the implication that working on newer and less decrepid public works requires no planning at all? And if that is the case, (which is entirely possible) then one of the main reasons for doing the size and speed of stimulus that we got goes right out the window. And what argument is that? That stimulus money will put people to work that would otherwisenot be working, or who lose their jobs were it not for the stimulus. Well, if that is the case, then how is it possible that these projects got off the ground so quickly?

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