The first article is entitled, "Has Stimulus Money Been a Bust for Unemployment?" The subtitle is "As Congress eyes 2nd stimulus, experts question bottom line of the first one."
The AP analyzed the $21 billion spent on transportation projects and concluded it didn't make much of a difference. One economist interviewed:
Even within the construction industry, which stood to benefit most from transportation money, the AP's analysis found there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it.The problem is the notion that government is a good job creator rather than realizing that private businesses are much better at addressing the needs and expectations of the people in society. In addition, government is very inefficient. It gets less out of a dollar than businesses which are more careful how they spend their money.
"As a policy tool for creating jobs, this doesn't seem to have much bite," said Emory University economist Thomas Smith, who supported the stimulus and reviewed AP's analysis. "In terms of creating jobs, it doesn't seem like it's created very many. It may well be employing lots of people but those two things are very different."
Despite the disconnect, Congress is moving quickly to give Obama the additional road money he requested.
The second story is a little bit closer to home. Titled "Panel looks after its own for Legacy funds", it looks at the activities of the Minnesota arts panel which divvies up money from the Legacy Amendment sales tax monies. The amendment was added to the state constitution a couple of years ago.
More than half of the organizations represented on an arts panel crafting guidelines for who will share in more than $1 billion from the Legacy Amendment sales tax have already received money -- and they hope to get more.
The amendment was a bad idea from the start. It was basically a backdoor way to raise taxes for environmental and arts programs. There's less accountability because the state panel members aren't elected or accountable to the public. And having government involved in the process politicizes the determination of which arts projects and groups receive the money. Let the public decide who receives their monies through their charitable donations.
No conflict-of-interest rules govern the panel, which does not make specific funding recommendations on how to divvy the proceeds of the state's Legacy sales-tax hike, which is dedicated exclusively to the environment, clean water, arts/cultural heritage and parks and trails.