Money that should have been used to upgrade American infrastructure.
Systems such as renewable energy systems, bridges, water lines, gas lines, and highways for example, are in dire need of better maintenance.
In 2009 regular readers were reminded of the "largest infrastructure bill" in U.S. history:
We are talking about "the most expensive public works legislation in US history" having creative billions reserved as special earmarking to the tune of "$24 billion for a staggering 6,376 pet projects, spread among virtually every congressional district in the land".(Mega Infrastructure Bill To Make Jobs?, 12/3/09). We kept asking the question over the years (Inferior Structure) as did others (Why We Still Can’t Afford to Fix America’s Broken Infrastructure).
"The enormous bill -- 1,752 pages long" costing "$286.4 BILLION" known as "the highway bill" was the republican congress and republican president's bill passed in late 2005.
Minnesota Bridge Collapse
But it did not stop the Minnesota bridge from collapsing and killing American citizens, nor did it stop the great recession that is still ongoing.
So how is the next most expensive public works legislation in US history going to be any different?
The answer is that nothing is going to work until we stop destroying wealth with the stupid wars, the stupid military spending gone pork barrel wild, and the stupid military propaganda deciding our fate.
Read this following quote slowly, remembering that it was done while the exorbitant costs of war were not being included in the budget a few years back, while everyone was smitten with bubbleosis, that economic disease which says this economic universe is expanding forever baby, and while we were in the love of war daze:
AT $286.4 BILLION, the highway bill just passed by Congress is the most expensive public works legislation in US history. In addition to funding the interstate highway system and other federal transportation programs, it sets a new record for pork-barrel spending, earmarking $24 billion for a staggering 6,376 pet projects, spread among virtually every congressional district in the land. The enormous bill -- 1,752 pages long -- wasn't made public until just before it was brought to a vote, and so, as The New York Times noted, ''it is safe to bet that none of the lawmakers, not even the main authors, had read the entire package."(Boston Globe, August 2005, emphasis added, see also PBS Transcript). Once again, why didn't the greatest infrastructure spending in fiscal history not help the economy?
That didn't stop them from voting for it. It passed 412 to 8 in the House, 91 to 4 in the Senate.
Final question, where did that money really go?
This mystery continues.
Now, there may be a total or at least a partial answer:
More than $1bn earmarked for the reconstruction of Iraq was stolen and spirited to a bunker in Lebanon as the American and Iraqi governments ignored appeals to recover the money, it has been claimed.(Guardian, emphasis added; cf. Pay Any Price, by James Risen). We are still spending billions on that phony political, oil war and its degenerative aftermath.
Stuart Bowen, a former special inspector general who investigated corruption and waste in Iraq, said the stash accounted for a significant chunk of the huge sums which vanished during the chaotic months following the 2003 US-led invasion.
Bowen’s team discovered that $1.2bn to $1.6bn was moved to a bunker in rural Lebanon for safe keeping – and then pleaded in vain for Baghdad and Washington to act, according to James Risen, a journalist who interviewed Bowen for a book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War, to be published this week.
“Billions of dollars have been taken out of Iraq over the last 10 years illegally. In this investigation, we thought we were on the track for some of that lost money. It’s disappointing to me personally that we were unable to close this case, for reasons beyond our control,” Bowen said in an excerpt from the book published by the New York Times on Sunday.
The disclosure of the bunker shines a light on one of the occupation’s murkier puzzles: the fate of pallets of shrink-wrapped $100 bills which the Bush administration loaded on to Air Force C-17 transport planes in order to prop up the occupation of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. About $12bn to $14bn was sent in the airlift and another $5bn via electronic transfer.
And our infrastructure, including our social contract, is only getting worse.
The previous post in this series is here.
Some Underground Homesick Blues: