Naturally, in this age of instant information availability, in which nearly everyone who can use a computer has access to millions of pages of documents, research and data, people tell great big whoppers and expect them to stand up.
Some of those whoppers concern projects funded by the Recovery Act, commonly referred to as the government stimulus, the stimulus package or a whole lotta flippin' money the government promises to pay back someday. Many people who opposed the Recovery Act have suggested it is paying for silly, useless and sometimes bizarre projects, which is a sign that it was not a stimulus package but actually one more item to add to the long list of things that the government does wrong.
Unsurprisingly, some of those statements are made up, and the administration offers its own helpful list of "10 Recovery Act Myths" that tells the truth about the rumors and explains why the project in question is either (a) not a boondoggle, or (b) was never funded nor was it intended to be.
I am not sure, but I think the folks who picked these 10 might have made a couple of better choices. For example, No. 8 says that the Recovery Act is being used to fund a National Institute of Health study into how children perceive foreign accents. And, as it's explained, that's exactly what the Recovery Act is doing, so I don't know how the assertion qualifies as a "myth." Unless we want to dig into Joseph Campbell/J.R.R. Tolkien/C.S. Lewis territory about how myths represent a truth sometimes deeper that perceived reality, and I personally figure that metaphysical discussions with bureaucrats is a good definition of "hell" and I don't want to go there.
The study is supposed to be one of many that help scientists learn how to help children with hearing problems. But since by definition, an "accent" is a set of unique pronunciations and emphases in speech, and "foreign" is something different than what's around these parts, I don't know what the research is going to show other than that children perceive that foreigners sound different. Which we kind of already knew.
No. 7 interests me as well. The myth is that Recovery Act funds will be used to purchase 22 toilets for the Mark Twain National Forest. Nay nay, says the White House. The money will be used to purchase 22 prefabricated sturdy outdoor restrooms for the Mark Twain National Forest, as well as preparing the sites and installing them. Now, I could make a joke that, according to the answer, the government is going to buy bathrooms, but it's not going to buy the toilets. And you could say that's not fair, that of course they're going to buy the toilets too. Who would think of buying bathrooms without buying toilets or making sure that the prefabricated bathrooms contained toilets. And I would raise an eyebrow and remind you who we are dealing with.
But No. 9 is the one they really should have left off. Myth: The Recovery Act is spending $11 million dollars to build a bridge between two campuses of the Microsoft Corporation in Washington. Now before we get to the truth, let's review something. Washington is represented in the U.S. Senate by Patty Murray, who is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership team, serving as Conference Secretary. And also by Sen. Maria Cantwell, who serves on the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. And Redmond, where Microsoft is located, is in Washington's District 1, represented by Rep. Jay Inslee, who serves on the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.
Learning these things, you can see why people might find it credible that the Recovery Act funds might be directed towards an $11 million dollar project to build a bridge between the campuses of a corporation that has $33 billion on its balance sheet and might reasonably be expected to fund its own dadgum bridge. Although that bridge might crash every now and again and have to be rebuilt from scratch, plus Microsoft would be entitled to own every car that crossed it and every map that showed it. Since the area has such powerful representation in Washington, D.C., it stands to reason that this representation would be interested in offering its largest corporate constituent a little taste of the gravy.
Oh, you gullible simpleton you! As carefully explained by G. Edward DeSeve, Special Advisor to the President, Assistant to the Vice President and Special Advisor to the OMB Director for Implementation of the Recovery Act, the Recovery Act is not spending $11 million on this bridge. It's only spending half of that! If I began working at my birth in September of 1964 and was paid from that day the amount I make now, I would pocket $5.5 million by late March of 2083 as a spring chicken of 119. That's assuming I didn't pay the IRS for that long and tried to keep all the money I earned, which is probably not possible.
After all, where would the money for Redmond's bridgework come from if I did a selfish thing like that?