Sunday, 25 January 2009

The Recovery Plan

After the brief comment suggesting to the Republicans to abandon Rush Limbaugh...came the urgent demand from President Obama to pass the recovery plan immediately.

So with urgency in the air...there must be some issue here. I hate pulling out stimulus packages and reading them for content...after 200-odd pages loaded with grants for mob museums in Chicago, $200k grants to study catfish in Arkansas, and $40 million grants for trail renovation at some national forest....you get to a point where you hate grasping what they do to the American public. Recovery plans are no better.

So I found several short and direct explanations for the Obama recovery plan.

There at the top of my list...$300 cash payment to all social security folks, disabled folks, and military veterans (of course, I'm one of them). I suddenly perked up...this was like the Bush stimulus check....just less. $300 for me? Man, I could buy a new set of tires, I could buy the DVD for the last season of Lost, and maybe even get a fine new pair of shoes.

To be kinda honest, for all of us in this $300 circle....this money will come and go quickly. Some folks will run off to casinos to toss it to blackjack. Some will buy tickets to visit their relatives. Some will toss it to a new TV or a new computer. Its a short-term gain. Maybe this is positive because the public will spend it as quickly as they get it.

For taxes, there is a $500 per worker or $1000 per couple tax cut for two years. That helps in some small fashion, but for me....I'll admit I haven't paid more than $300 for American taxes ever in my life (that military pay never amounted to a huge sum and my current check is German-taxed).

There is a nice $7500 tax credit for middle-income, first-time home buyers....but you have to make the purchase between now and July. How many folks feel encouraged to buy a house right now? Not that many. How many have the down-payment for a place (most banks are suggesting a real down-payment now)? Well...this is a huge question mark.

There's a $31 billion tax credit for renewable energy production, which would make tax credits for energy-efficient homes more generous. But in these bad economic times....will people pull extra money out of their pocket to expand in this direction? This is not a period when someone would feel comfortable about expanding a business.

$27 billion got reserved for road and bridge construction and repair. But to be honest...that will be split among fifty states. Basically....each might get two or three major bridges rebuilt entirely and repair maybe a dozen others...and that's the end of that fund. It will barely scratch the surface.

$20 billion was supposed to repair schools. Split amongst fifty states...with hundreds of schools in serious structural trouble....that fund will go quickly.

$9 billion will go to increased access to broadband. Hint for you urban areas...you will all have networks established. Hint for you country folks...you are still screwed. Hint to Cisco....man, you guys are going to make a killing here. Hint for lifecycle planning folks...once they establish this urban requirement...they will come back every four years to expand or replace the hardware. You guys have got lots of work coming up. And you budget guys....just stand there and shake your hands because none of this is cheap.

The $1.4 million for western water projects? This is an interesting shake for political figures in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, and Colorado. Somehow, the Colorado River has to be unhooked from the current future because it simply won't provide what they all need. The problem is....where do you get this massive source of water for growing communities? This massive fund could build a massive pipe from Montana or even Canada...but do folks want to "ship" water down to the southwest?

Finally...amongst what I saw...was this $100 billion for state educational grants. This is questionable in a stalled economic period. Jobs that might end up being generated in this period...probably won't be the highly educated type....yet we'd trick ourselves into thinking otherwise.

Should the Republicans just sign on? Hell yes! I want my $300 and they should just accept it. Well...maybe I should think of the big picture more.

If this was such a great idea...it would create confidence in the economy and generate growth. Its hard to find lots of confidence-building measures in this plan.

If I were to accept this package...then it'd be under the concept of being Obama Recovery Plan 1.0....knowing that each and every year would come at least one other Recover Plan...and by the eigth year....we'd have around fourteen of these plans....with trillions spent. The positive of all this mess....we'd probably pave every single walking trail in America by the end....and we'd all discover this massive plan was part of the entire agenda from day one.

Maybe this is the answer....but I have doubts.

The C-SP*N Belt

After long and extended analysis....since my episode with the C-SP*N empire (hereby referred to as the "Holy Grail episode").....I've come to an interesting discovery.

Naturally, I crunched my blog numbers. Typically, I get 14 hits a day.....half are daily, weekly or occasional readers and the rest are accidental discoveries. Friday was the "Holy Grail episode", it went up to around 360 hits.

Strangely enough....internationally....my Mexico count jumped tremendously (1 hit, but the guy read a couple of different pages).

So I began to look at the US stat's, and suddenly came to realize that there was a "belt" developing. I could identify a reasonable trend.

From New York state, over to Minnesota, and down along Illinois, to the Alabama/Mississippi border. This was the higher hit region from this "Holy Grail episode". This was the C-SP*N belt. Oh, I'll toss in Texas and California....which were obvious as well.

But then, here was Rhode Island and Mississippi.....only one visit each. Here was Hawaii, one visit. Here was Delaware and New Hampshire with two visits each. Kansas and Maine....four visits each. A lot of the western states were 6 or less.

So I came to realize....besides the "rust belt", the "Bible belt", the "delta belt", the "cotton belt", the "sun belt", the "black belt", the "corn belt", the "Borscht belt", the "frost belt", the "Jello Belt", the "rice belt", the "snow belt", and the "stroke belt"....that we can now add a "C-SP*N belt".

I could probably take this to another level and ask a "Mainer" why I got so few hits, but I suspect his answer might be that he's got better things to do than watch TV or play computer all day. From the few Mainers I know...they aren't the type to sit around (unless sipping a beer).

So I am closing the "Holy Grail episode". Never again will I gaze upon the Holy Grail or offer commentary. I'll stick with Brittney Spears, Nancy Pelosi, and corruption in Chicago....they are "safer" to blog.

It Did't Run Perfect, But It Was Close

Its an odd affair. The inaugural didn't really go off as planned, but awful close. There are likely twenty thousand lines of plans involved in the task of the day, and its probably one of the most impossible tasks that you'd ever want to get involved in.

Somewhere in the midst of Tuesday....people who had tickets....which meant you could be up close.....got herded into the 3rd Street Tunnel and basically got stopped or slowed down drastically. They didn't reach their destination, and they didn't see the ceremony that they had paid for.

I looked around the internet on this strange topic....tickets for the inauguration. There really aren't a lot of stories over the history of "tickets". Bush used them, and so did Clinton. It appears like anyone before Johnson....didn't use the device. So I would guess somewhere after 1970...it became a standard of sorts.

The organizing crew who runs this whole ticket business....got a huge number of complaints, and they are really hot water. They came to announce a second swearing in (a do-over), which you could come over to and have your picture taken. I didn't see numbers mentioned, but I doubt it was anything but a small group.

The amusing thing left now....is this Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. They say it was a terrible action and have apologized. Then the committee said that it intends to investigate what went wrong. If you had to pick anything for a congressional committee to waste its time on....it'd probably be this. What? They need a special prosecutor or something? Please no, not that. Would they need to have open hearings for CNN to cover live to the nation (preferably at 9PM and for two hours at a whack)?

One of the absolute worst inaugurations ever held....was the Andrew Jackson event. By early morning, a majority of the audience was drunk. By late after.....the vast number of the audience was drunk. And as evening hours crept in and parties were held to celebrate President Jackson....everyone was wasted. I had a professor whose period of expertise was the 1820s to 1860. He graphically tossed out an image of hard alcohol and drunks fighting each over on the streets of DC (typically what happens at night in DC now).

So, I feel sorry for these guys who got shut out. They wasted hours driving to DC, and hours trying to get into the event area....then hours trying to escape from DC.

Upset? I'm betting they are extremely upset. How much did they pay? Thats something you can't be sure of. I can only make a guess that most bought their tickets via a 3rd party and probably paid $500 for four tickets which they thought were fairly up close. Pretty sad way to engage a inaugural episode....someone has to make a profit.