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Public Works

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Public Works"

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455th delivers aid to Pakistan 1

Spencer Ackerman reports that faced with 9.5 percent unemployment, the US Congress has appropriated the funds necessary for massive public works projects and infrastructure upgrades:

Then there are all the new facilities. West Disney has a fresh coat of cement –- something that’s easy to come by, now that the Turkish firm Yukcel manufactures cement right inside Bagram’s walls. [...] There on the flightline: the skeletons of new hangars. New towers with particleboard for terraces. A skyline of cranes. The omnipresent plastic banner on a girder-and-cement seedling advertising a new project built by cut-rate labor paid by Inglett and Stubbs International.

Oddly, though, the locals aren’t enthusiastic:

Troops here told me of shepherd boys scowling their way around Bagram’s outskirts, slingshotting off the occasional rock in hopes of braining an American. Again, something else I wouldn’t have believed two years ago.

Shepherd boys? Where’s that? And why do they want to brain Americans? Ah, because even as we’re turning the streetlights out in Colorado Springs for lack of funds, all this construction is happening in Afghanistan!

This is the oddity of American politics in 2010. To simply appropriate funds to give to poor foreigners (“foreign aid”) is hideously unpopular and politically unthinkable. To appropriate funds to give to state governments to keep the public sector operating is also politically untenable. But to appropriate the funds to build facilities for Americans but located in Afghanistan is easy.

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