Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What? There's Waste?

On the drive from NYC to Cleveland last week, I saw the highway signs referred to in this CNN article:

A state senator from Ohio says his state is spending $1 million on road signs to advertise the use of stimulus money for road projects. In other words, the state is using your money to tell you it's spending your money.

State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Ohio, calls it a waste of taxpayer dollars. The road signs he's concerned about display words such as "Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" Some road projects have two signs, and some don't have any at all, but the signs aren't cheap.

The bigger signs can cost as much as $3,000 each, according to Grendell, who says this is just a big "thank you" to the Obama Administration.

He told CNN, "Send a fruit basket if you want to say 'thank you.' Don't waste a million dollars saying 'thank' you to Washington for giving us back our tax money."

Grendell says the message here is that stimulus dollars are "being spent stupidly."

Ohio's Department of Transportation says that criticism misses the point -- that this is all about transparency.

Oh, it's transparent all right. It's easy to see that money is being flushed down the shitter. Why not just post big signs campaigning for Obama's re-election? Yeah. Send the fruit basket instead. That it is called the 'American Recovery and Reinvestment Act' allows one to see through what a gigantic load of BS it is.

I've seen the same signs in southern Indiana, on I-64 between Louisville and Evansville, if memory serves. My reaction then was that it was more a big gesture of patting onesself on the back. The angle of the waste of it didn't even occur to me. $3,000 per sign? Wow.


Doug said...

Must be a universal compulsion. Same kind of signs went up for "Major Moves" projects. I guess politicians don't figure citizens will give the government credit for doing anything absent a PR campaign of some sort.

Mike Kole said...

Yep, Major Moves also. I can't stand those kinds of signs. I find the signs at the city limits especially annoying, where mayors feel the need to put their names on the signs.

Of course, I do remember the comedy of the Blago meltdown in Illinois, and that state rushing to take his name off the signs on I-80. That was amusing. I remember thinking how it served Illinois right for having his name on a thousand signs across the state.

Doghouse Riley said...

Well, we're in agreement, then. But before I run off to deface all the "Mayor Gregory A. Ballard"s off the Indianapolis city limit signs--just kiddin', I already did that--should utility companies be permitted to advertise?

Mike Kole said...

Any more than oil or insurance companies do advertise on city-owned buildings?

Doghouse Riley said...

Well, that's a different, though related matter, though it reminds me: who ordered everyone else to call it "Lucas Oil Stadium"? They paid to put ugly neon all around the Citizens Football Barn, but they didn't pay me to call it that. Or the local news hairdos.

But utilities are effective monopolies. If I don't buy IPL Brand electricity I have to generate my own if I want to watch teevee, where IPL uses part of my monthly check to tell me how great it is. 'Zact same deal.

Mike Kole said...

I'm reminded of the joke with the punchline that goes, "We've already established what you are, we're only haggling over price". Govt sold the ads to IPL for cheap, got top dollar for the stadium & field house naming.

Sure utilities are monopolies. How is that so? Govt protects said 'franchise', keeps out all comers. Joe Blow's Discount Solar & Wind Power wants to set up shop? Too bad, govt will keep them out via permitting or other 'code enforcement'. The city itself is the barrier to entry, eliminating competition. I have Duke Energy where I live, no other commercial choice allowed. For my money, string up all the damn wire the poles will support, and let me pick.

But virtually all businesses we transact with take some portion of their incomes to tell us how great they are. Flip on PBS, and there's ADM and GE. Your tax dollars fund PBS as a vehicle for ADM & GE to send some of the money they got from you in exchange for high fructose corn syrup and flourescent bulbs to crow about their greenness and other marvels.

Mike Kole said...

I saw those 'Major Moves' signs on I-64 yesterday, between New Albany and Evansville. Kinda put a momentary damper on my wildlife viewing (a bobcat and a surreal number of hawks). Only momentary, tho.