Monday, February 01, 2010

Stimulating, Stimulating--"Push the Private Sector"

Near the end of his truly terrible pop song, "I do the Rock," Tim Curry starts mumbling to himself, "Stimulating....Stimulating..." (Video, if can stand it). Makes me think of the Porkulus package.

Here's a terrific example, sent in by Jason S. JS writes: "[Here] is a hyperlink to how the San Antonio transit agency is going to fund their match for more federal funding for a street car application to the Feds. Clearly this shows how stimulus money is fungible, or laundered if you want to be more crass. It also demonstrates that the transit agency is not spending any more money at all in the short run and its essence is to shift funding to lower return investments for the public, but higher returns to the transit service providers. I am sure that this is not the only example of such behavior but just a good example.... "

Excerpt from the article:

VIA President Keith Parker has said his agency would commit $20 million from its capital budget. Because of federal stimulus funding VIA has secured to buy new buses, the transit agency can divert the money from its capital budget for use on a streetcar system.

Officials also underscored the need for help from others.

“The mayor and I feel very strongly that we need to push the private sector,” Wolff said.

A public improvement district could be formed that would levy an additional tax on property owners within a certain distance from the track alignment. The private sector helped fund the streetcar line in Portland, Ore., a model for other cities seeking streetcar programs.

So, they got "Federal money" (whatever that means). They are moving "city money" from one line item to another. And all this spending of tax money is an excuse for... raising taxes! If you look at a taxpayer, how do you tell if she is a Federal taxpayer, or a state taxpayer, or a city taxpayer? The answer is, "YES!"

Bonus link: The Transportation Department is now exempt from worrying about things like costs and benefits. Instead, the goal is to improve "livability." I think that means that people with Volvos also to get to ride street cars at public expense.