In 2009, Congress confidently passed the $862 billion stimulus bill, reassuring Americans that it would be just the catalyst that the country needed to jump-start the economy. While the bill promised new projects and jobs, 2010 is coming to an end with an unemployment rate near 9.5%, a percentage far too similar to what it was last year. In fact, the only number the stimulus bill has managed to notably change is the United States deficit which now stands as a new record high of $13.2 trillion, 23% higher than what it was last year.
So where did this stimulus money come from and where is it going? While the stimulus bill was approved by Congress it is being funded by American taxpayers and is in some cases being wasted to accomplish unnecessary and just plain illogical goals. From rebuilding brand new sidewalks to investing money in a park that can only be reached by plane or boat, it is no wonder that the stimulus bill has not been effective. Here are a few great projects we pulled from Senator McCain and Coburn’s Summertime Blues report. You be the judge if the stimulus bill is effective.
$762, 373 to Develop Software… for ‘Dance Tube’ online application
The University of North Carolina was granted a hefty portion of the stimulus money to create a ‘computerized choreography program.’ The idea behind the software is to allow choreographers to experiment with different interactive dance moves without having a full dance cast present. The producers foresee the program leading to a ‘Dance Tube’ application that will be available online. If over a $760,000 donation seems a little high for this project to you, that’s because it is. It could be accounted for when considering that the University of North Carolina is receiving 44% of this fund to cover overhead expenses.
$1.9 million for Research… of exotic ants
Almost $2 million of the stimulus funds are being designated to the California Academy of Sciences. Through this researchers will be sent to East Africa and the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands to analyze hundreds of exotic ants. Their findings and photos will then be posted on AntWeb. This site will be dedicated to depicting photos and information on the various species of ants. It is hard to believe that most American taxpayers would willingly invest their tax dollars towards this or see it as a righteous cause but as far as the Academy’s website is concerned, “Everyone has run into ants…now we need to listen to them.”
$89,298 to Replace Sidewalk… that was recently redone
Oklahoma officials have some explaining to do for this tax project. In the town of Boynton, representatives invested almost $90,000 to replace a sidewalk that was just recently replaced five years prior. This decision has raised eyebrows throughout the state. After all, how could $90,000 for a new sidewalk be justified when state public schools are forced to considering shutting down as Superintendent Shelbie Williams admits struggling to pay a local school's gas bills of roughly $9,000.
$762,372 to Study Improvised Music… by jamming with musicians
This project is home to Atlanta, Georgia, and will provide a Georgia Tech assistant professor with more than $750,000 to ‘jam’ with musicians around the world to create “satisfying works of art.” While this project may certainly encourage creativity it is hard to see how this will improve or have any long or short-term effects on the U.S. economy. And after all, wasn’t that the purpose of the stimulus bill?
$554,763 to Replace Windows in Visitor Center… that is shutdown
Amboy, Washington is guilty of this tax spending spree. The U.S. Forest Service is investing over $554,000 to replace the windows of a visitor center at Mount St. Helens. While it may sound reasonable enough, this move becomes questionable at best when you note that the visitor center has been closed and has no plans to reopen. An official defended this by referring it to as “keeping a vacant house in good repair.”
$62 million for North Shore Connector… ‘to nowhere’
The U.S. Department of Transportation designated a whopping $62 million to extend Pittsburgh’s rail system under the Allegheny River to professional sports stadiums (home of the Pirates and the Steelers) and the Rivers Casino. This project was plagued with problems from the gecko and has been referred to as “a tragic mistake,” by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Not only did the project surpass its original budget but the actual benefits from the connector are a controversy within itself. The North Shore Connector has even adapted the name, “the tunnel to nowhere.”
$13.3 million to Restore National Park…which is one of the least visited in the U.S.
What better place to invest over $13 million than a park with the third-lowest attendance rate of any national park in the United States. The fact that this park is located on a remote island off of Key West, Florida, and is therefore only accessible by private boat or plane could explain this. Despite this, this park earned priority in getting stimulus funds.
$2.4 Million for New Buses… that average two riders an hour
Nearly two and a half million dollars was given to Winter Haven Area Transit for five new buses to be added to its fleet despite the fact that bus services only average two riders an hour. Lawmakers may have a hard time explaining this one.
$6 Million for High-End Hotel… in the middle of Buffalo
This high-end boutique is being built with stimulus funds in Buffalo, New York, but is there really a need for a luxury hotel here? According to local reporters, “practically every hotel in and around downtown Buffalo was built with public subsidies and more of them are treading water- at best.” So why the need for a new luxury hotel when there are no visitors?
$1 Million to Fund High School… with iPods for each student
Thanks to this stimulus package, 1,600 students at a public high school in Salt Lake City, Utah will receive iPod touches. According to the program the iPods will be used during class and at home. It is hard to see how this school is awarded iPods while other schools struggle with offering even books for students.