Thursday, June 21, 2012

How government squanders money

"New York's $51.71/hour summer job." Thanks to a federal National Emergency Grant and some resourceful bureaucrats, this summer New York will be paying 150 youths $51.71 an hour to clean up storm damage in Fallkill Creek.

The story of how a simple and necessary public works project became a full-blown boondoggle is a classic tale of government excess and regulatory insanity.
The ultimate source of funding for the Fallkill cleanup is a federal National Emergency Grant, whose terms require paying wages at the highest of the federal, state or local minimum wage or at the comparable rates of pay for individuals employed in similar occupations by the same employer.
The state Labor Department decided that this meant the prevailing wage for public-works projects. But “prevailing wage” is a term of art that actually means a pay rate based on collective-bargaining agreements between labor unions and private employers.
For the Mid-Hudson region, the prevailing hourly rate for laborers comes to $51.71 — $30.71 in wages plus $21 in benefits. But the temporary workers on the Fallkill won’t be union members, so they’ll get the entire amount as a wage, the Labor Department ruled.

Read the whole thing, and weep. HT: Regina


sturdeebeggar said...

Rather than getting the volumes of prisoners serving time to do something to pay their freight.

William said...

Well, the problem with this story is that it is from the New York Post, a Murdoch newspaper since 1993.

So can you trust it to get it's facts straight? Or is it primarily propaganda?

Benjamin Cole said...

Of course, there is our B-2 bomber.

"The program was the subject of public controversy for its cost to American taxpayers. In 1996, the General Accounting Office disclosed that the USAF's B-2 bombers "will be, by far, the most costly bombers to operate on a per aircraft basis", costing over three times as much as the B-1B (US$9.6 million annually) and over four times as much as the B-52H ($US6.8 million annually).

In September 1997, each hour of B-2 flight necessitated 119 hours of maintenance in turn. Comparable maintenance needs for the B-52 and the B-1B are 53 and 60 hours respectively for each hour of flight. A key reason for this cost is the provision of air-conditioned hangars large enough for the bomber's 172 ft (52.4 m) wingspan, which are needed to maintain the aircraft's stealthy properties, particularly its "low-observable" stealthy skins.[30][31] Maintenance costs are about $3.4 million a month for each aircraft.[32]

The total "military construction" cost related to the program was projected to be US$553.6 million in 1997 dollars.

The cost to procure each B-2 was US$737 million in 1997 dollars, based only on a fleet cost of US$15.48 billion.[3] The procurement cost per aircraft as detailed in General Accounting Office (GAO) reports, which include spare parts and software support, was $929 million per aircraft in 1997 dollars.[3]"

Who, but a federal agency, would design a weapon that require 115 hours of maintenance for every hour of service?

And cost $1 billion per copy, in 1997 dollars?

Benjamin Cole said...

According to this website, US taxpayers have dished out $80 billion in corn subsidies since 1995.

That dwarfs the ill-conceived auto bailout, btw.

Public Library said...


Scott doesn't pay the gorrilla's in the rooom any mind. Far easier to attack a few hundred unemployed for getting a great wage for the summer.

The banks are receiving approximately $5-10B for parking money at the Fed at above market rates. What is the rate on your checking/savings account?

Talk about a boondoggle!

Paul said...

"According to this website, US taxpayers have dished out $80 billion in corn subsidies since 1995."

Umm, so what? Has Scott ever written that he supports farm subsidies, or wasteful spending by the military?

"That dwarfs the ill-conceived auto bailout, btw. "

And it is dwarfed by the corrupt, idiotic Obama "stimulus" and also the current "jobs plan" he's pushing now.

As long as we're slinging off-topic, non sequiturs around...

sturdeebeggar said...

Paul, butta-bing!

Benjamin Cole said...


I find it odd that the corn industry gets $80 billion in taxpayer handouts, and then gets a federally mandated market----ethanol---in what is by far our nation's largest socialized renewable, green energy project, but no one in the right-wing says boo.

I guess there is an prayer alter to Eugene Debs in the RNC back room somewhere.

I may still vote for Ron Paul over Romney, and who could blame me?

Gee, why is that?

marmico said...

"Umm, so what? Has Scott ever written that he supports farm subsidies, or wasteful spending by the military?"

Why would he. It's anathema to his economic theology. Only rich, smart, white people get manna. If you are not rich, and not smart and not white you get chicken feed.

Do you want to get his hackles up?How about this: Reagan perfected the fine art of military Keynesian. Bush43 tried to emulate, but failed. You could look it up in Table 8.8.

bt1138 said...

Ok. Perhaps these workers were well paid for this work. I'm not sure why we should weep that someone who works with their hands got paid a decent wage for once.

We've been lowering the wages and benefits of the working class for 30 years to allow for corporate profits to increase. Perhaps because a lot of American corporations couldn't think of any other way to grow for the last 30 years. Oh, If forgot, they also got a lot of tax cuts, which was going magically create a lot of jobs.

And now wages are being slashed for middle and even upper middle class workers, after the same corporations have squeezed all they can out of the lower wage workers. And a giant company like Wal-Mart has personnel and pay policies that are equivalent to a cheap ass landscape contractor.

And then government workers are targeted, because they receive the kind of pay and benefits that the private sector USED TO PAY, but doesn't any more.

Tell me, mr. economist, who is going to buy things in this economy of ours, if everyone if f-ing broke and sitting in an emergency room to get some basic health care?

Economists and politicians ought to ask themselves how to arrest these trends. Not decry the fact that some guy actually got paid well who wasn't wearing a suit, or the son of a Governor.