Infrastructure as stimulus

From the Strib: Oberstar looks to job-creating infrastructure projects
“Last month, the House passed a $60 billion stimulus package, half of which was for transportation and infrastructure projects. It offered $12.8 billion to the states, including $208 million for Minnesota. But the measure stalled in the Senate when President Bush indicated he would veto it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., now wants to more than double the spending to as much as $150 billion.”
“A study by the Federal Highway Administration estimated that for every $1 billion spent on transportation projects, 34,799 direct and indirect jobs are created.
Minnesota currently has $218 million construction-ready projects awaiting federal funds, according to a recent survey from the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials. Applying the FHA’s formula, that would bring 7,586 new jobs to the state, Schadl said.”
(1) Minnesota does not have enough ready projects. Our population says we should get 1.67% of the national budget, but with only $218 million available to spend in Minnesota out of $30 Billion on offer, we are getting less than 0.75% of total disbursements. Minnesota did not learn the lessons of Robert Moses, the New York Power Broker who always had engineered projects queued up waiting for construction money available.
(2) Repeat three times: Jobs are a cost. Jobs are a cost. Jobs are a cost. If one company came to do a project at your house and said it would cost $100,000 and employ 10 people and another said it would cost $50,000 and employ 5 people, you would do the latter. I want the government to do that as well for my tax dollars. I want to maximize benefits per unit cost. If by doing so, we employ some people, that is a nice side-benefit; but if we deviate from that and do projects solely to employ people, we will be wasting money which in the long run will shrink the economy. Surely there are efficient ways to spend money, which will have a stimulatory effect.paint12 (3) Are these projects really beneficial or are they like the famous Japanese make-work projects with 5 supervisors for every worker? One of my favorite pictures is that of the Boonsboro Pike, the first Macadam Road in the US, with five workers lounging for the three actually doing work:

DAL NWA

When we see a local angle on a national news story, it is always of the “can it happen here?” variety. (e.g. Ebola, can it happen in the Twin Cities, tonight on Fox 9 at 9).
The Northwest Delta merger of course is a local story in Minneapolis (and Atlanta), but clearly it is also a story in Albany (this article is #2 on Google News at the moment on the topic):
From The Business Review (Albany):
Delta, Northwest merger completed; Albany Int’l official calls it a “positive” step
Now Albany is not a hub for either airlines, and apparently isn’t yet cutting service to the capital of New York, yet the CEO of Albany International feels obliged to endorse the merger of two of his biggest customers.
From the article “Delta carries nearly 11 percent of Albany International Airport’s passenger traffic and has 21 employs in Albany. Northwest handles 8 percent of Albany’s passenger traffic and employees 21 people in Albany.”
Now we see why Delta acquired NWA, its employees were far more efficient.

Obama won’t let those robots eat me

Found in South Minneapolis

Her name is Yoshimi
she’s a black belt in karate
working for the city
she has to discipline her body
‘Cause she knows that
it’s demanding
to defeat those evil machines
I know she can beat them
Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots eat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots defeat me
Those evil-natured robots
they’re programmed to destroy us
she’s gotta be strong to fight them
so she’s taking lots of vitamins
‘Cause she knows that
it’d be tragic
if those evil robots win
I know she can beat them
Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots defeat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots eat me
Yoshimi
‘Cause she knows that
it’d be tragic
if those evil robots win
I know she can beat them
Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots defeat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots defeat me
Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots eat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots eat me
Yoshimi
by The Flaming Lips