Okay, so here's a hypothetical scenario. Let's say you live in a state that's been through hard times. The federal government comes to you and tells you,"Price no object." They're going to send you whatever you need to get yourself back on track. For the first three months, the government doles out $8.2 billion in contracts. An additional $10.5 billion is coming this summer. It's the biggest news in urban renewal since LBJ's War on Poverty. And the whole thing is going to be paid by the taxpayers. You don't have to put in one dime! Unless of course you are a taxpayer.
Actually, because your particular state has been subject to really hard times, it's not HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development)—with its mere $2.3 billion in available"funding opportunities" for"affordable housing"—that's assisting you. It's not even the State Department. Nah. This is for a really big job, something for which only the Department of Defense does the actual contracting, with its"emphasis on big corporations producing quality results subject to bureaucratic auditing," as Jim Dobbins ("recently retired ... US envoy to postwar Afghanistan") puts it.
So what can your state look forward to? Here's just a sampling: 7000 vehicles (a mix of SUVs, four-wheel drives, and passenger sedans). 459 Color TVs. 359 VCR/DVD players. 13,000 firefighter outfits. Hundreds of firefighter vehicles. And small things, like: 185,000 thumbtacks, 71,222 metal whistles, 9,620 desk chairs, 5,400 traffic cones, and so forth. And let's not forget $5.6 billion for electric generators, $4.3 billion for water and sewer projects, and $1 billion for roads and transportation networks.
Oh, and, since we don't want to leave the State Department out of the loop, it too will have a role to play. It's going to send you another $50 million to teach the residents of your state how to run elections (hopefully this will not entail any leftover hanging chads).
There is so much more information now available on all these wonderful Marshall Plan-like projects for your state. Montana? New York? No.
As Bob Port tells us in the NY Daily News, however, there has been a"lack of full transparency" on this wonderful crony capitalist project, which
breeds trouble and favors political influence, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington watchdog group. Last year, the center had to file 73 Freedom of Information Act requests to unearth a list of Afghanistan and Iraqi contractors. The effort revealed confusion about what the government was buying, discrepancies in numbers and a general lack of accountability, said Bill Allison, the center's managing editor.
Who needs accountability when you're not a fiscal conservative? But if you were one, like a good Small Government Republican, you'd be opposed to all this, right!? It's only Big Government Democrats who favor Big Government Initiatives. Right?
Let's ask the Republican administration of George W. Bush.
Oh, and for those who believe that the only way to Marshall Resources for Big Forward Looking Projects like this is with Big Government Initiatives, well... it just ain't so.