Hey, Congress! Fix the roads!

April 24, 2014

Just a crazy idea, I know: But do you think Congress could pass a bill to help the states fix potholes in federal highways, make the thousands of decrepit bridges, safe, and put a few thousands of people to work?

Economist wrote:

ONLY the drunk, they say, drive in a straight line in Chicago. The sober zigzag to avoid falling into the city’s axle-breaking potholes. This year the craters, caused by continual freezing and thawing, are worse than ever, and the spring thaw has brought three times the usual number of complaints from citizens.

As winter retreats, holes in roads and budgets are being revealed—especially in midwestern states, which were hit hard by the polar vortex. Those states with money have made emergency appropriations for repairs; those without will have to cut summer programmes. This means not mowing the grass in parks or picking up litter. It also means delaying resurfacing of highways or fixing guard rails, and putting off capital spending.

Looking after America’s roads is a persistent headache. Although $91 billion is spent on them every year, that is nowhere near enough to keep the country’s 4.1m miles (6.6m km) of public roadways in good nick. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment is needed every year. Last year a report from a civil-engineering group said that 32% of America’s major roads were in poor or mediocre condition. Main roads through cities were in worst shape: almost half the miles travelled over urban interstates in 2013 were a bumpy ride. Ray LaHood, a former transport secretary, thinks the roads are probably in the worst shape they have ever been.

Is it too big a stretch to go back to the hopes in 2009, that we might get a jobs bill to fix this stuff?  Yeah, it’s 2014 — and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.

Photo from The Atlantic

Photo from The Atlantic

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12 million jobs — but not until when?

October 16, 2012

Oy.

It’s extraordinary to consider with just three weeks until Election Day, but Mitt Romney’s central argument to voters has been exposed as a total fraud.

Greg Sargent added, “Let’s recap what Kessler has discovered here. The plan that is central to Romney’s candidacy on the most important issue of this election — jobs — is a complete sham. This is every bit as bad — or worse — than Romney’s claim to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain, or his vow to cut spending by eliminating whole agencies without saying which ones, or his refusal to say how he’ll pay for his tax cuts.”

Obama’s budget NOW creates 12 million jobs in the next four years, according to projections.  Romney?  He stretches it out to ten years, but reduces the job creation, so it’s 2.5 times as long to get the same number of jobs.  Say what?  Romney’s plan reduces the number of jobs created by cutting the rate at which they are created.

Read more at Rachel Maddow’s blog, with links to the actual studies.  Maddow links to Greg Sargent’s blog, The Plum Line, at The Washington Post. 12 million jobs, Mitt Romney, economy, Bain Capital

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Stimulus helped thousands in California’s East Bay

September 11, 2009

This is close to how it was supposed to work.

Oakland didn’t burn.

Kids got jobs, most of them with good experience.

How will the reflexive Obama-haters complain about it?  Wrong youth?  Wrong place?  Wrong jobs?  I’ll wager they can whine about any good news.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Sara Ann Maxwell.


Recession or depression: Anecdotal evidence

October 23, 2008

Schools and teachers in Dallas still scramble to deal with the layoff of just over a thousand, including several hundred teachers.  At our school, schedule changes will be effective Monday, we hope.  Hundreds of students will have new schedules; in one case, we’re abandoning one elective entirely.

Teachers, staff and administration are shaken at best, bitter in worse cases, struggling to catch up everywhere.

About a dozen other teachers now have dropped by my classroom, asking about comparisons to corporate layoffs, an area where I have more experience almost all on the survivor side.   If I had to typify their reactions, I’d say the corps of teachers in Dallas is just scared.

Other economic stories don’t help.  Supplemental retirement funds have been hammered by Wall Street’s woes.  I hear teachers saying they had hoped to retire in a year or two, but can’t now, especially with a child or grandchild in college and tuition costs rising.

Also, locally, Dallas is supposed to lose a score of Starbucks locations (600 across Texas).  The first to close was the closest to Molina High School, last spring.  Last night Starbucks shuttered the first location south of the Trinity River in Dallas, a partnership with Magic Johnson, on Camp Wisdom Road.  It’s about four miles from here, a site I visited often when it first opened, but lately only when I get the tires rotated at the shop across the street.

Both of my parents lived through the Great Depression.  My mother graduated from Salt Lake City’s West High in 1932, and plunged into the grim job market.  She said that, on the farm, they had little awareness of the depression.  On farms in the late 1920s, everyone was poor.  Off the farm, things were a lot worse.

My father spoke about catching the first job that comes along.  His series of jobs in the Depression came from big businesses collapsing about as often as he got a better job from jumping.  He said it was possible to stay in employment, but once one got knocked out of the employment market, it was very difficult to get back in.  He was happy to have the skills to get a job behind a drugstore or cigar store “fountain.”

What was the difference between a depression and a recession?  They couldn’t say.

Tuesday I dropped into our remaining local Starbucks (may it remain open) for the weekly purchase of the New York Times featuring the science section. The woman barista noted my identification badge.  “My husband was just fired from that school,” she said.

I said I was sorry, I said we miss him badly (true in all cases).  I told her I hope he finds something soon.

Then I had to leave fast.

She’s working in a location condemned to close.  He’s just been laid off.  I didn’t ask about children.


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