I am so incredibly glad that the CA primary is over: I can link to Mickey Kaus again. I think that I’ve mentioned it before, but I wasn’t willing to risk losing the pickup in November by making him look like a viable alternative to Barbara Boxer.
Anyway, Mickey’s bringing up this quote from Jon Alter’s book The Promise:
The biggest frustration involved infrastructure. Obama said later that he learned that “one of the biggest lies in government is the idea of ‘shovel-ready’ projects.” It turned out that only about $20 billion to $40 billion in construction contracts were truly ready to go. The rest were tied up in the endless contracting delays and bureaucratic hassles associated with building anything in America. [E.A.]
Did Obama really not know this back in January, 2009? I mean, Alter’s book pretty convincincly demonstrates that the President is a very smart man. But a smart man would have to have had virtually no contact, direct or vicarious, with government not to realize state and federal construction projects are bound up with time-consuming rules (like the Davis-Bacon Act’s “prevailing wage” requirements) that undermine their Keynesian utility.
I’m going to avoid the cheap shot about what Alter’s book pretty convincingly demonstrates – it’d be cheap because I have no idea; I haven’t actually read it – to focus on the bit about ‘virtually no contact.’ This is news, about President Obama? His private, state, and federal Senate tenures were… ‘undistinguished‘ is the polite term; ‘freeloading’ will probably get me branded as being racist. Suffice it to say that our current President managed to get his way through a decade of what is euphemistically called ‘public service’ without actually ever really doing anything; things got… done for him, instead. In other words, he was precisely the last person that you could expect to be cognizant of the limitations of government. And why should he be? In his experience, government worked just fine – if you replace ‘just fine’ with ‘to make Barack Obama look good.’ It wasn’t until the man met a legislative body that didn’t actually care about making him look good that he discovered the flaws in a Letting Somebody Else Do It strategy.
And that’s why we keep staring 10% unemployment in the face.
All of this would be hysterical, if it was happening to somebody else’s country.