More stimulus silliness

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 8, 2010

Today’s San Diego Union-Tribune took a look at one of the local “stimulus” projects targeted by senators Tom Coburn and John McCain at a press conference last week.

The “project” is actually a study on alcohol abuse and drunk driving that received $497,117 from the nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill. So, what we’re talking about here is a rounding error on a rounding error, but add 100 (or several tens of thousands) of them up and eventually you’re talking real money.

Lane [sic – should be “Lange” maybe you guys shouldn’t have sacked all those copy editors? Fourth paragraph of a Page 1 Story!] is studying whether labeling the alcohol content of drinks served in bars and restaurants could lead to more moderate drinking and a reduction in drunken driving.

This is interesting, and probably worthy, research. However, it’s also something that should come out of the National Institutes of Health’s regular budget and not a stimulus bill.

And what sort of stimulating effect are we talking about?

“It absolutely is paying the salaries of people who would be working less or not working at all,” [Lange] said, adding that approximately 15 people have been employed under the grant on tasks such as field research, though not necessarily in a full-time, permanent capacity.

So is this guy an economist? Doing the math, that works out to $33,141 on average for each part-time, temporary job. I’ve seen worse numbers, but honestly, wouldn’t that money have been better spent on unemployment insurance?

On a related note: The headline for this story is “Stimulus critics pick on SDSU drinking study.” Bias anyone? “Target” would’ve been a better description, or maybe “skeptical of,” but just so you know where the newsroom is coming from, the poor stimulus program is being picked on.


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August 2010



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