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So much for "location, location, location"

Let's look at a hypothetical situation. Say you have a great idea for promoting your business -- you'll rent some billboards plugging your store all over the state. You go to your boss, and he likes it. He gives you money to rent the billboards. Check in hand, you immediately start looking to rent them.

And then you find out that there are no billboards for rent in the entire state, because your state outlaws billboards.

So there you are, with a check in hand from your boss. What do you do?

1) Go back to your boss, apologize, and give the check back.

2) Rent a couple billboards in neighboring states, hours away from your location.

Most people would choose #1, and hope they keep their job. But most people don't work for the state of Vermont, and the check is from the federal government.

What happened was the federal government noticed that Vermont's seat belt use was low, and told the state to get more people to buckle up. With federal highway dollars at stake, state officials got the bright idea of putting up billboards promoting seat belt use. They got about $25,000 in federal money (that's OUR money, folks) to pay for them, and THEN they remembered the Vermont law against billboards. Faced with the possibility of having to give back the money, they recoiled in horror and hired a couple billboards here in New Hampshire.

And that's why drivers around Manchester (a good hour from the Vermont border) are told to ""Buckle up in Vermont. It's the law."

In normal business, spending less than you are budgeted is cause for promotion, or at least a pat on the head. But when you're dealing with government money, spending under budget means you were given too much money last year, and you're likely to get less money next year.

With perverse incentives like this, is it any wonder the federal government is in debt as far as it is?


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Comments (8)

LOL, priceless -- here's an... (Below threshold)

LOL, priceless -- here's another one: Federal Highway Administration ties highway money to the obligation to install truck stop areas to enforce federal weight limits --- you don't actually have to OPERATE the weigh station, you just have to build it. So check out all the nice weigh stations along Route 95 (or, ridiculously, Route 6 on Cape Cod) that are NEVER in operation.

Nice to wake up to a good l... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Nice to wake up to a good laugh.

You would think at the very least they could find a couple of NH billboards on 89 or 93 just before you hit the state of VT, but no, they buy them in Manchester? They not only wasted federal money, but even their solution was a waste.

This is one of the plethora... (Below threshold)

This is one of the plethora of reasons I was ecstatic to leave Vermont after over two years of trying to make a life there. The politics and the people in general. I was tired of being treated like an invader by everyone I met and constantly being told, "We don't do things like that around here." It seemed the people there never got out of the "clique" mentality they developed in high school. The man I rented from had been living there operating a dairy farm for twenty years and people there still called him "that guy from Massachusettes".

When the general population acts in that manner they elect officials just like themselves. They're isolationists. Everytime they're asked to act like they're part of the rest of the country these are the results we get.

I know, I sound like the pot calling the kettle black here, being from Florida and all. And I know we here are the butt of everyone's jokes every election season or when someone lapses into a vegetative state, but at least the people here are not generally so judgemental and haughty. Nearly everyone here has escaped from somewhere else and they have plenty of stories why. It's part of why our state is growing so fast.

I know this has little to do with the actual topic here, but thanx for letting me rant anyway. I've been a little cranky lately.

They rented billboards in M... (Below threshold)
Jack12:

They rented billboards in Massachusetts too. I noticed them while driving up route 91 this weekend.

My grandfather was a Major ... (Below threshold)
Beck:

My grandfather was a Major in the Army Air Corp during WWII. One year, when they found that they had left over money in their budget, he bought his entire staff leather luggage--he was under direct orders to see to ikt that the money was all spent, so he spent it.

Same song, different tune.

Actually, I wouldn't do eit... (Below threshold)

Actually, I wouldn't do either. I'd sponsor the road cleanup on the major roads - likely cheaper per mohth than a billboard, which means you can do a lot more of them. In New York, sponsoring a road section (see http://www.ncedr.org/guides/litter/step14.htm#2) costs $1250 plus $650/month. Compare that to mobile billboards (another option, of course) - see http://www.1800greatad.com/BillboardRates.htm - which run $1800+ per week on a 52-week commitment.

But, that's me - perhaps that's why I didn't go into politics...

How about the 1.5 millions ... (Below threshold)
Dana:

How about the 1.5 millions dollars Anchorage received to build a bus stop.

Here's my theory: anyone e... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Here's my theory: anyone employed in the public sector -- especially in areas of government (local and on up) -- can't retaliate or vent as to the complaints they hear, so they use situations like that/these to vent instead (the leather luggage for everyone at taxpayer expense is a great example of that).

They also rely on never being held accountable (like this: "it's public money, we supervise the public, therefore, we're not supervised and public money is ours to spend as we determine")...and so, when these issues pop up with the real possibility of tweaking rules inorder to manipulate for self gain (they "reward" themselvse because they feel they "deserve" some sort of helps after all they do for everyone else)...they engage (thusly) in self-medicating via taxpayer dollars.

My theory, anyway. I realize that we're all human beings but something negative sets in when people are employed in the public sector, and I've yet to know anyone who careers in that who doesn't become very antisocial, if not originally. They do seem to all share a high degree of resentment about society and seem to feel deserving of more than they have...black moods, resentments, hostilities toward being asked to do much of anything, etc.

I think it's just a case of public sector work being unrewarded by society, so those who career in those areas (often, not all) keep an eye out as to how and when they can reward themselves, and thus, we get the mismanagement of public funds. Which never seems to be effectively penalized, so perhaps there's also the awareness that their deeds won't matter, regardless of whether or not they are ethical or not.




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