Wasteful stimulus spending in Georgia

Writing at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Gilmer County Commission Chairman Mark Chastain provides us with another example of waste from the “stimulus” bill:

If Georgians want to see precisely how little sense most of the activities covered by the federal stimulus bill make, look no farther than the North Georgia mountains. Vice President Joe Biden was in Dawsonville recently to announce that he had decided to spend some taxpayer dollars on a project to “stimulate” our economy.

In fact, the announcement was that the federal government would launch a new telephone company in North Georgia. Unlike the existing phone companies in the state, this new phone company would be paid for with $33.5 million in taxpayer funds.

In this case, the federal government is going into “competition” with a private company that already provides jobs for more than 1,400 Georgians and paid tens of millions in state and local taxes last year. This federally funded company is competing in an area that does not even meet the minimum threshold for being “underserved” by existing telecommunications providers. As anyone who lives or travels in North Georgia will tell you, the region is anything but a languishing series of coal mining and textile towns where good phone service is impossible to come by.

In fact, 90 percent of the areas the Obama administration has labeled as underserved already are served by broadband, and the majority of those areas are served competitively by more than one private carrier.

This is the same project that State Sen. Lee Hawkins, also a candidate for Congress in GA-9, went running to Dawsonville to praise, hoping for a Charlie Crist moment with Joe Biden.


  1. Ramblinwreck says:

    Lee Hawkins is no different than most of the other Republicans in Congress and all the Democrats. His attitude is that “As long as everyone else is stealing the future of or grandchildren I’m going to do it too.” Sending him to DC would make the problem worse, not better. If you look at the people supporting him they’re cut from the same cloth as well. The entire Georgia GOP delegation in DC voted NO on the stimulus and now the GOP leadership in Atlanta is using it to balance the state budget and state senators are using millions from it to study Maglev train routes to Tennessee.

    A question for my fellow Republican, especially those in elected office: where can I look in the “what we believe” set of values on most GOP web sites and find where this kind of generational theft is condoned? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. After mulling it over for several months I’ve come to the conclusion that I might be the RINO.

    • trainsplz says:

      They already voted “no” – as you said. But if it’s going to get spent somewhere, do you see it as hypocritical to try and get it spent here?

      • Ramblinwreck says:

        It is stealing from our grandchildren pure and simple.

        I ask again, where is the Republican principle that says this is OK? If Republicans are in agreement with this kind of legalized theft then what makes them different than Democrats?

        Will the federal government quit doing this just because the 9th District doesn’t take the money? No, but somebody needs to take a principled moral stand and it should start here but Lee Hawkins is clearly not the person who will take that stand.

        • Freeman says:

          They are the same. It is the party of big government. One of the first ideas we all try to teach our children is “Just because (childs friends name) does it, does not make it right”. But yet people somehow are able to justify this. Stealing from your grandchilds piggy bank is just plain wrong.

        • You sound just like a libertarian here! If the Republicans and Democrats are as similar as they currently are, don’t we then need another party for those of us who are fiscal conservatives to fight against the Republicrats? Let’s face it, there’s a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties these days. Their only differences are HOW to spend the money, not IF!

          • Freeman says:

            I agree, there’s not a dimes worth of difference between the party’s right now.

            I do not need a consensus to agree that theft is wrong. Our system of government is bases on the rule of law not the rule of man. The majority can’t just do whatever it wants to the minority. Our system of government is supposed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

  2. CMOB says:

    Dang Henry County Missed Out Again! Good thing our Board of Commissioners is spending $14 million to start a new fiber optic network because we only have Charter. I bet Google feels stupid to go into competition now with North GA and Henry County.

  3. richie.rashad says:

    Sounds like you all need Lee Ferrell running in the 9th instead of the 2nd Congressional District – he will shake things up,

  4. tarheel7 says:

    Hawkins seems to have once again made it abundantly clear that he will be no different from the politicians already in Washington. After looking at that website link from the post by Justin Tomczak I must say that there is only one man running in the 9th that could and will bring actual change to Washington. Tom Graves has my vote!

  5. benevolus says:

    I think that is pretty much total B.S. It’s not like they are going to send a thousand Stimulus Department guys down here to dig the ditches and run the cable. It’s money for local companies to do the work. Work that local companies can’t afford to do because the payoff is too far in the future to justify the investment right now. But it helps the companies and citizens who get the service with better web access and presence. So it creates jobs now and it helps citizens in the future, and just might help the economy up there in the longer run. Ellijay Telephone is a partner on the project.
    This is like rural electrification for the new millennium.

  6. ByteMe says:

    It’s wasted money when it doesn’t come into your own county, eh Commissioner Chastain? Just because it went to another nearby county, you want to whine. Maybe you just need to figure out how to play nice with others and you might get some shiny new jobs in your neck of the woods.


    My small business just closed the doors because of high unemployment in my county, and “NO” jobs! The local chamber is a joke, the municipalities are run by a bunch of people who think the Roberts Rules of Order, is a way to order biscuits and red eye gravy for breakfast. So, 16 people are now affected by clsoing my doors… get the stimulus money in the areas with “shovel ready” construction projects, and create some friggin jobs. Most road and infrastructure projects take years to complete. So, since the auto industry is in the tank, construction is the best way to create jobs and stimulate local economies.

    • CMOB says:

      “the municipalities are run by a bunch of people who think the Roberts Rules of Order, is a way to order biscuits and red eye gravy for breakfast.”

      funny indeed!

  8. Freeman says:

    This spending is nothing more than stealing private property from one group too give to another. There is nothing justifiable about it.

      • Freeman says:

        I could not agree more Ken in Eastman.”When plunder has become a way of life for a group of people living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frédéric Baastiat

      • Harry says:

        From an article in the Asia Times – it could be us:

        Corruption in Greece has been systematically cultivated by all governments and parties. Everyone has relatives living off the public sector in cushy, do-nothing jobs. They get paid through various funding sources that successive governments have created so even though the nominal wage is low the actual take home and all benefits are quite high. Another important dimension to the public participation in corruption is that the rich by and large do not pay any taxes. The only people who pay are those who can’t escape the clutches of the state: pensioners and civil servants i.e., sectors where the salaries can be accounted for. According to the President of the National Bank of Greece, 30% of the budget of the last administration was unaccounted for—yes, just disappeared into the coffers of their families and well-wishers, and I would guess the other 70% was never audited.

        The common psychological traits of the corruption are what the ancients called alazoneia (brash presumption of knowledge by the ignorant) and anaischuntia (shamelessness). All public institutions have one purpose: Suck money from the EU (or via loans) and redistribute it through an inverted pyramid of chicanery with the the loaf going to the top, the crumbs to the bottom. Most people in their little niches of decay are “expert” at this. They “know” the ropes. As the country psychologically devolves there are no lines demarcating the “good from the “bad”, “responsibility” from irresponsibility”. No one ever goes to jail; no one gets punished.

    • Ramblinwreck says:

      Exactly! Republicans should be ashamed of even being seen anywhere near this kind of activity. Obama has only said one thing that I agree with since he was sworn in as President. Last month in a meeting with Republicans he pointed out their hypocrisy for opposing the “stimulus” bill but then holding photo ops to receive the money. You cannot credibly claim to be against something when you’re grabbing for the money with such gusto.

      • trainsplz says:

        39 of 40 Republican Senators vote against PAYGO. One abstained. Seems to point to the same conclusion to me.

        • PAYGO is a joke. It’s supposed to result in either pay cuts or in tax increases. With a Dem majority in both houses of Congress, there is zero chance Democrats will vote to reduce spending and so PAYGO is a way to implicate Republicans in the increase in marginal tax rates or entirely new taxes.

          This is not to the time to increase tax rates or implement new tax schemes. Democrats know this and PAYGO is a way to make themselves appear more fiscally responsible.

          By the way, how many Dem spending initiatives has PAYGO affected? None.

          So, please explain to this dumb-as-rocks country boy how voting against PAYGO makes the GOP hypocritical, because it seems to me that the hypocrites are the people who vote for PAYGO knowing they have a majority to waive PAYGO just like they have consistently done.

          • ByteMe says:

            For the past 30 years, it’s “never been the time” to increase taxes. And yet… the times it has been increased over the past 30 years, it didn’t adversely affect the economy one bit.

          • ByteMe,

            We can never know if tax increases hurt the economy or not; no alternate realities are available for comparison. I do believe that tax increases led directly to the George H. W. Bush recession.

            We both know the government can’t operate on no revenue and it can’t operate with a 100% tax rate. We need some government and we need a private sector where work, investment, capital and entrepreneurship are rewarded.

            The trend over the last century has been the increase of the size and scope of national government. In addition we have adopted policies that punish productive people and reward people who do less.

            As the decades have passed, the reallocation of capital has increased and burdens have increased on the people who are most productive and on people who provide capital. In the meantime, well-meaning but poorly planned policies have resulted in the increased break up of the family and decreased focus on the education of children.

            Are some things better? Yes. Have we paid too dearly for those benefits? I believe we have. We have now robbed generations of people of the dignity of being independent human beings by handing out just enough for subsistence while increased regulations make it nearly impossible for them to break out of their current situation.

            Regarding PAYGO, to continue to spend money we do not have is not the answer and to use fake mechanisms like PAYGO for political advantage makes the problem worse.

            PAYGO was even waived for cash-for-clunkers. What was necessary about that program? All it did was reduce the supply of working used cars, driving up the transportation costs of poorer people. And yes, more cars were sold during that time period but we both know that in almost all cases those were cars that would have been sold over the next few months anyway. President Obama got some praise, we destroyed some inexpensive working autos and made it a harder for poor people to move up the ladder by increasing the costs of available independent transportation.

          • benevolus says:

            “those were cars that would have been sold over the next few months anyway.”

            Pretty much the point of the program. When you are trying to jump start something, you want it to start NOW.

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            So if we are all about jump starting and don’t care about which industry it is, why not cluckers (chickens) for cash?

          • ByteMe says:

            The USA is not a majority shareholder in any large chicken company responsible for the employment of up to one million people. That’s why cars.

          • Freeman says:

            There is probably close to a million out of work construction workers. I say let’s destroy houses so we can put construction workers back to work. This of course is absurd. The same goes for cars. We all want to help those who are in need of work but you can’t change the laws of economics. Destroying capital just makes us all poorer.

          • ByteMe says:

            I say let’s destroy houses so we can put construction workers back to work.

            If you’ve ever ventured inside a few of the foreclosed houses that have been sitting for a few months, you’d start to think maybe you had a good idea.

          • Freeman says:

            “The basic truth that the wanton destruction of anything of real value is always a net loss, a misfortune, or a disaster, and whatever the offsetting consideration in a particular instance, can never be, on a net balance, a boon or a blessing.” – Henry Hazlitt

            Again, destroying capital whether it be cars, houses, or snow machines only makes us all poorer. This simple fact is, cash for clunkers made us all poorer.

    • benevolus says:

      This is a free country. You are perfectly welcome to go and buy a piece of property- for a fair market price- and build a fence around it, and grow your own food, and only pay property taxes. So you might have to sell a little bit of your food to get the tax money. But if you don’t have electricity or water or sewer or a fire department or police or a hospital or a road nearby, the taxes shouldn’t be much.

      • Freeman says:

        You can not buy a piece of property if you are forced to pay property tax. You are only renting it from the government. Therefore, you are not free. You are a serf to the coercive force.

        • benevolus says:

          Ah! An anarchist! Do you guys have meetings at all? How do you get organized?

          Weren’t you whining about Republicans saying one thing and doing another? And yet, presumably you site here in a community with all the services provided, using the internet that was developed by your government, and whine about people who pay for government services? How is that not hypocritical?

          Maybe someday if you get your way someone will come and kick your ass and throw you out of your home, because without property rights that’s what would happen. Frank Mir would own everything.

          • Freeman says:

            I did not know that believing that property taxes are immoral made me an anarchist. Property taxes are a violation of property rights. Are we know attacking the messenger and not the message.

          • benevolus says:

            Calling you an anarchist isn’t an attack. I am fond of anarchists. But if you want some authority to help you defend your property rights, you’re going to have to pay some sort of tax or fee, whether it’s called a property tax or something else.

          • Harry says:

            Why can’t we all just live in a regulated free society and receive governmental services at a fair prices that do not extort inordinate, incentive-killing taxes from productive citizens and subsidize the non-productive? We are moving in the direction of Baastiat’s “legal plunder.” For example, social security and medicare are today more a welfare system than an insurance system, the result of government involvement in family and retirement planning.

          • benevolus says:

            OK, so it’s not the PRINCIPLE of taxes that bothers you, just the AMOUNT.
            That’s cool. I was unclear.
            I don’t know why we can’t live in a society like that.

          • Freeman says:

            It is the principle of how the taxes are levied. Taxes raised by force (stealing) are immoral. Similarly, it is the principle of how the taxes are used. Taxes taken by force for services that I do not use or want are immoral. Also, taxes taken from me to give to others is immoral.

          • benevolus,

            Every penny of taxes that is not necessary under the US Constitution is legalized theft. The “General Welfare” clause has been used to reduce the American middle to class to the status of serfs. The burden of taxes is oppressing people and preventing the very classless society to purport to want.

          • benevolus says:

            If a few individuals and/or corporations own most of the wealth and property, the rest of us are just working for them, right? 1% of the people here own 38% of the wealth. 40% of the people own less than 1% of the wealth. Real wages here are at the lowest point on record. Ever. It’s harder to afford owning a home. We look the other way while companies illegally hire millions of destitute immigrants and treat them like slaves.
            Sounds very much like most of us are just serfs on the manor. We are only free to the extent that Citigroup/CVS/WalMart/Exxon choose to let us be. And now that they can dump unrestricted money into politics it’s just going to get worse.

          • Freeman says:

            I see nowhere in your explanation that you are forced to do anything. In every example you gave the individual still has a free choice. You are not forced to work anywhere. You are not forced to buy a home. As long as you are free to choose you are not a serf. The government is the only entity that can force you to do anything. The government has the monopoly on force.

          • Joshua Morris says:

            No one here seems to notice the point that being taxed based on the one’s property value is wrong. Why should one guy pay more taxes on a more valuable house than the guy down the street pays for a more humble place? Why should I have to pay higher ad valorem taxes on a newer car than the guy next door who possibly drives more miles in an old, used clunker?

            Taxes based on the value of property are purely Marxist and hurt a market economy by discouraging people from larger purchases. They also put undue burdens on property owners whose incomes drop due to age or crisis.

            Taxing income, taxing purchases, or taxing every property owner per resident could be more suitable options in principle. The key is that taxes should NOT be based on personal property, so that those who have worked hard to ‘own’ something don’t lose it purely because of its value.

            Freeman is correct. As long as a local governments can take property due to lack of tax payment, they own it.

          • ByteMe says:

            Because — for the most part — property values are stable, while sales taxes go up and down with the economy. And since the services needed from government are higher during recessions, having sales tax revenue dip at the same moment would spell disaster.

          • Freeman says:

            Please expalin which services are “needed” from the government and why the need for them is “higher” during a recession?

          • ByteMe says:

            You think unemployment insurance benefits are only available based on what’s paid into the pool? If so, you haven’t been paying close attention.

            You think that Medicaid and PeachCare decrease during a recession when more people lose their jobs and fall below poverty line? If so, you haven’t been paying attention.

            You think these services aren’t “needed”? If so, then you’re merely a job loss away from changing your opinion on that.

          • Freeman says:

            You are right. I do not believe any of the services you listed are a proper function of government. I do not believe my problem or condition is a claim on someone elses life or labor. I simply do not believe that my problem or condition gives me the right to get the government to force someone else to pay for a problem that through a series of free choices I failed to plan for.

          • ByteMe says:

            Yep, the people definitely have it better in places where the government doesn’t provide social services or social insurance… like Somalia.

          • Freeman says:

            We obviously have different philosophies about the role of government and will not come to an agreement here. I believe in freedom and the responsibility that comes with that freedom. I believe your philosphy is based on the tyranny of the majority and the belief that the majorities wants supersede the rights of the minority. This inevitably leads to the belief that the government has the power to make us all equal in our conditions. I do not believe this system of government to be a moral system since it is based solely on the princilple of theft and force.

          • ByteMe says:

            I could just as easily point out that your philosophy is based on tyranny of the individual, anarchy, and narcissism. Just because someone writes out their convictions in blog comments doesn’t make it correct or even interesting.

          • Freeman says:

            I believe I have clearly shown how a government that provides social services must use theft, force, and tyranny to obtain those ends. If you can easily show how a government based on freedom, rule of law, and the protection of private property leads to the tyranny of the individual, I will gladly study those ideas in further detail?

          • Freeman says:

            Thank you for clearly laying out the ideas behind government provided social services/the good of society. We will have to agree to disagree. I appreciate the dialog.
            I will leave with this:
            “In the Society of Contract man is born free, and comes into his inheritance with maturity.
            By this concept all rights belong to the individual. Society consists of individuals in voluntary association. The rights of any person are limited only by the equal rights of another person.
            In the Society of Status nobody has any rights. The individual is not recognized; a man is defined by his relation to the group, and is presumed to exist only by permission. The system of status is privilege and subjection. By the ultimate logic of the Society of Status, a member of the group who has not committed even a minor offense might be put to death for “the good of society.”-The God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson, 1943

      • We’re looking at buying a piece of property in unincorporated Cobb County. The property taxes are roughly $5k a year. Assuming we were off the grid with our electricity (easily do-able), water (it’s already on well water), septic, etc. and the only things we had to pay for was surrounding infrastructure, that seems like quite a bit of food we’d have to sell to pay the $5k a year in property taxes. What’s so wrong about changing to a sales tax only based revenue stream whereby I can choose when to pay taxes?

        Sales taxes can pay for the police and fire departments. My hospital visits are paid by me or my health insurance company – I wouldn’t expect property taxes to pay for a hospital. I have no problem paying into a fund to pave the roads, but I already am via fuel taxes. (And yes, since I currently spend around $6k a year on fuel, I believe I put in my fair share.)

  9. Freeman says:

    I agree. John Locke stated “Government has no other end, but the preservation of property”. I never said I was against all taxes. Just taxes taken by force such as property taxes. In addition all taxes that are used for a service other than the preservation of property are immoral.

  10. Murry Ford says:

    Where did this information come from? It seems factually not true.

    The stimulus money for this project wasn’t Biden or the US Government trying to meddle in Georiga affairs. This ARRA money came from a grant proposal submitted by the NGN, an organization established by the Economic Development Authorities of Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin, Union and White Counties. It’s not for a phone company. These N. Georgia Counties authorities along with area colleges are working together to beef up the region’s IT infrastructure. These people, many of whom probably are Republican, submitted a proposal and won a grant. Simple as that.

    I guess the fact that Biden personally came to deliver the good news is making people unreasonably pissed off. We should be happy that Georgia is getting more ARRA money and not other states.

    Chastain is blowing hot air because Gilmer isn’t getting any money.

  11. chefdavid says:

    But Hawkins just released this Friday.

    What a joke. Let’s see if his local government committee accepts the watered down committee substitute for HB 122. The original bill required some accountability be published on the web. Something local residents could actually look at and see the waste and hold their commissioners accountable. The substitute just requires a pdf of the budget and the audit be sent to the Carl Vincent Institute where they will publish. I would have been ashamed if I was the original creator of the bill. Instead they were praising the original creator in the house committee meeting for having a bill ACCG & GMA could agree on.

Comments are closed.