Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Heckuva bootstrap there, Larry 

Courtesy Larry Schumacher -- whose second blogiversary was last week, so stop by and give him a nod -- I read my state representative's latest letter. Rep. Haws argues for asset preservation and job creation as guiding principles for the bonding bill.

For a better future we need to balance care for what we already own and what we would like to build. Sustainability, assets preservation, maintain care of existing buildings, renovate before building new, reduce the back log�all are foundation criteria for well-developed bonding bills.

Rigorous maintenance priority schedules will help guide our choices as we make our way through this bonding year at the State Legislature with a shared commitment to make effective use of tax dollars and ensure safe state building and schools. With this in mind, I carried a number of asset preservation bills...
I'll spare you the list; as you might guess, they are all local projects. He goes on,
These projects often have a Rodeny Dangerfield syndrome� "They get just no respect". But they need to be put high on the list for they will have, pay back in efficient, safety for citizens and employees, and jobs ready to go.
"Jobs ready to go." I'm not real sure about the beginning of that last sentence -- the commas look wrong, but it appears he means that maintenance jobs provide jobs ready to go. Gary disagrees with this, and he might be right. But let's think about the next sentence,
Overall, in 2008, every project considered for inclusion in the capital investment bill will be looked at in terms of the potential to create jobs as soon as possible.
So how is it that jobs are created ASAP that are also maintenance jobs, jobs that preserve assets? Constructing new items uses lots of building materials, tools, equipment, etc. There's a great maintenance project going on in my office building on SCSU's campus: They are painting the walls of the hallways, the first time I can remember them doing this since we moved into the building in 1988. (I travelled off campus most of the early 1990s, so I could be wrong, but ten years for sure.) Total employment? One person. One guy who works on my campus anyway. He's been working for about three weeks, and he seems to be about done. (Just in case he reads here: Great job. Place looks wonderfully new and clean.)

We've had a problem here in construction, and there have been declines in employment in that industry. If you wanted to create jobs ASAP, you'd want them to go back to work. But do construction workers do? They construct; they build stuff. People good at constructing can probably also do maintenance, but they aren't the same jobs and they aren't the jobs those workers are best at doing.

I have no problem with either goal Rep. Haws is choosing, but he's trying to strap one on to the other. Does he really want preservation and is bootstrapping a job-creation argument to it, or does he want job creation and bootstrapping preservation because those are the projects he thinks have the best chance of getting into the bonding bill (for him to receive credit for)? I'm not sure. But that letter looks held together by Red Green's favorite tool. And you know how those projects turn out.

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