The Winterization of Our Discontent
Jon Stewart recently did a segment on certain problems with Obama’s weatherization plan. This plan was supposed to accomplish two main goals: create jobs and lower people’s energy bills. This certainly sounded like a somewhat good idea, aside from the fact that, as Joe Biden said, it seemed to be rather lacking in provisions that would ensure the money was used properly and effectively. Crudely put, it seemed like money was being handed over without much in the way of actual requirements.
As one might imagine, when you hand money over to people without having some sort of enforcement system, you are counting on their competence and integrity to ensure that the money is well spent. As might be imagined, there have been numerous problems with this program. Apparently some states gladly accepted the money but produced little in the way of positive results. To be specific, the program did not seem to quite create as many jobs as hoped and even the attempts at winterization and energy efficiency often seemed to turn out to be failures.
Part of the blame obviously rests on the Obama administration. Handing out money without an enforcement mechanism is obviously a bad idea if you expect that the money will be well and properly spent. Of course, the Obama administration was perhaps reluctant to tell the states what to do-as most Republicans will tell you, infringing on state’s rights is a bad thing. However, the Obama administration can be seen as being like a person who gives his relatives a bunch of cash and tells them to use it to hire people to make their houses more energy efficient. True, the person who hands out the money should have better sense-especially if he knows that many of his relatives cannot be trusted with money.
Part of the blame also rests with the state governments. After all, they were supposed to spend the money to create jobs and increase energy efficiency and they seem to have often failed in these tasks. This supports the notion that government often does a bad job but, of course, counts against the notion that turning control over to the states will automatically be better than having matters handled by the federal government. It must also be noted that private businesses were involved in this as well, thus indicating the obvious fact that private industry can be just as corrupt as government (in fact, the two forms of corruption generally go hand in hand).
The problems in the program are, of course, a mark against Obama’s administration. They are also a mark against the state governments that misused the money as well as a mark against the businesses that benefited from this. Somewhat ironically, this also shows that the Obama administration is not an enemy of business-after all, it seems quite willing to practice the time honored pro-business tradition of corruption.
While it is tempting to see this all as business as usual, we should not be willing to accept this. We, as a people, should be better than this. And we can be-but it is up to us to hold our governments and their business friends accountable. In general, we should insist on better oversight in regards to how our money is being spent.