I don't pretend to be an economic or political expert. I'm just an average U.S. citizen who is worried about our economy and about my fellow citizens, including friends and family, who can't find jobs. I'm also a taxpayer, and I want the money I pay Uncle Sam each year to be spent judiciously and transparently. I want to know what I'm funding and just what I'm getting for my investment.
This week I was reminded that the astronomical stimulus package, which many of my fellow citizens and I thought was supposed to create thousands of jobs through funding infrastructure projects, hasn't quite lived up to its promise. Two surveys about the spending were eye openers regarding just how little has been spent on infrastructure.
According to a new national Clarus poll, large majorities of voters nationwide believe building infrastructure is necessary to a healthy, growing economy and would create a significant number of new jobs.
This poll also revealed important public misconceptions about the 2009 economic stimulus package. Most voters are under the mistaken impression that a much greater amount of the package's funding was dedicated to transportation infrastructure than actually was. Only 3.4 percent of the $800 billion package was specifically dedicated to highways, roads, and bridges, but 65 percent of voters believe it was 3 times greater than that. Sixty-nine percent of poll respondents think at least 25 percent should have been used to create jobs by building and improving highways, roads, and bridges.
Also out is the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) survey which shows that two of five voters think 25 percent of the package was earmarked for infrastructure, and 69 percent think worse of the package since they've learned how little actually was dedicated to this effort.
How did so many of us become so misguided? Well, perhaps we didn’t pay close enough attention to the bill that detailed what was being spent and relied too much on the government touting the infrastructure component as being the road to job creation. But chances are, if we had, we still would have been somewhat misinformed. According to reports, $100 billion of the plan was designated for new transportation and infrastructure projects, which turns out to be 12.5 percent, half the 25 percent many thought. Sadly, only a quarter of that was actually spent on these projects. And if you read the list of spending items that fall under the transportation and infrastructure projects, you'll see surprisingly few that might create plentiful, lasting jobs.
To my government, I say, "Shame on you." Stop making promises you can't or won't keep, and stop giving the public false impressions. When I was a teenager and being less than forthright with my dad, he would say, "Tell it like it is." So, Washington, tell it like it is and hold the spin; I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore.
As for the stimulus spending/job creation correlation, check out this tracking site that lets you see where funds are being spent and how many jobs have been created as a result. I entered my zip code and saw that my area received more than $48 million in stimulus funds between Feb. 17, 2009 and March 31, 2010, and 14.04 jobs have been created by that stimulus. That’s more than $3,000,000 per job. What a lousy ROI.
Follow fabcomlady on Twitter.
Become a fan of The Fabricator® on Facebook.