Thursday, July 22, 2010

Make Work

For years I would always joke with my wife, “I want to live in a state that’s built.”

But now it’s getting ridiculous.

Every single town in my county has at least a half-dozen road construction projects underway. It’s at the point where it took me a half-hour to drive across town to get the Little One to tennis lessons. Every major street is either being repaved, widened, or having wheelchair-accessible sidewalks installed. It’s insane.

The most absurd project occurred right outside my front door. Six weeks ago the D. P. W. put a gigantic reflective MEN AT WORK sign right on the strip of grass between my sidewalk and the street. The dang thing weighs like eighty pounds, and I have to physically lift it, place it in the road, and put it back every time I mow my lawn. Yet there was no sign of men working. Finally, after a month, I called the town, and after much research on their part, they told me that the project would begin right after the Fourth of July holiday.

It didn’t. They waited an extra ten days. Then, at midnight a few days ago, they lit up my street like a Pink Floyd concert and set to work jackhammering the sidewalks apart. Patch started crying, and so did I, desperately seeking sleep. In fairness to them, the construction only took a night-and-a-half, though the MEN AT WORK sign’s still there.

Here’s the absurdity. I live four houses down from a major, three-lane highway. No one walks on it, no one bikes on it. It’s for cars only. There might even be a law against walking on the highway. So, my town (or county, or state) is installing wheelchair accessible sidewalks along the highway. Wheelchair accessible??? What? I have no problem about reasonably accommodating the handicapped, but tying up traffic and destroying my sleep to install wheelchair accessible sidewalks – on a highway?

I know what it is. At least, I think I do. If I’m wrong, let me know. But I think it’s the Stimulus. Towns, counties, and states have this bonanza jackpot o’ gold (to be paid by us next year in the form of all-around higher taxes) to “create jobs.” Well, the only jobs they’re creating are temporary construction jobs for their make-work projects. When the money dries up, so will the jobs.

I’m an out-of-work accountant. How does all this help me? “Well,” you might say, “the construction companies will need to hire more accountants to help process payroll and do the bookkeeping for all this make-work.” No. First of all, how much of this make-work is handled by private companies? My guess is none. And second, these companies (and the government departments who repair roads) will hire worker bees. Kinda like what I was told in September of 2008 by the owner of my company: “We’re not hiring a single new person in the office; in fact, I’m looking to cut people.” Yet the new-hires in the sales department continued unabated.

The other ridiculous aspect of all this is that to my untrained eye none of these roads needs to be repaved or widened. Certainly not the street I had to detour off of this morning driving Little One to her practice session. It’s insanity.

Please remember to vote all these ******es out of office this November.

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