October 4, 2011

"Eight new Dodge Grand Caravans, purchased 10 months ago with $186,192 in federal stimulus funds..."

"... are sitting unused in storage at a county park because Waukesha County has found no takers for its proposed workers' van pool program."

At least we didn't take the train money. You can't just keep a train in storage.

54 comments:

Seven Machos said...

Can you just keep a train in storage?

Quayle said...

Your tax dollars at rest.

Ann Althouse said...

@7 Sorry. Thanks. Fixed.

bagoh20 said...

From the article:

""It's hard to say whether we would have done this without the federal (stimulus) money," she said. "The county executive has asked us to come up with more cost effective solutions for transit."

Even though the new vans are idle, County Executive Dan Vrakas praised the idea as an innovative way to provide mass transit."

~~~

Now why would anyone not want to give more of their money to such people. Please raise my taxes - I haven't got a clue as to how to spend it anyway. I don't know any charities, or businesses or friends or family that need help right now. Just take it please, and spend how you think best, or pile it up in a warehouse somewhere, please.

Quaestor said...

Your tax dollars at rest

Correction: Chinese trade surplus at work.

Fred4Pres said...

Can we borrow them to car pool to tea party events?

Borepatch said...

You can't just keep a train in storage.

Sure you can. Especially if it's going to tax poor people for a bunch of SWLP "benefits".

As a matter of fact, and from a "social justice" perspective, you should oppose trains if this is what they lead to.

Quaestor said...

Even though the new vans are idle, County Executive Dan Vrakas praised the idea as an innovative way to provide mass transit.

I think I'll sue Dan Vrakas for the pain and suffering his jaw-dropping stupidity has caused me. Man, my chin aches...

A. Shmendrik said...

Even though the new vans are idle, County Executive Dan Vrakas praised the idea as an innovative way to provide mass transit."

"They looks real purty in that warehouse, and if the roof was to spring a leak, why, they do a fine job keeping the pavement underneath from getting wet."

This is a story repeated all over the country in recent years. In Georgia vans were purchased for those commuting from Macon to Atlanta. They sat parked for nearly 2 years before being re-purposed, after it was realized that nobody wanted to van pool from Macon to Atlanta.

Fred4Pres said...

It's okay, it is the grandkids' money that paid for them.

Quaestor said...

Can we borrow them to car pool to tea party events?

No, but it's a safe bet they'll be used to deliver reliably Democratic voters to the polls next year.

Phil 3:14 said...

Well at least they're not leaving much of a carbon footprint.

Rick said...

This is appalling.
There simply is too much money floating around the federal government. The only way to move toward getting control is to greatly reduce the size of government.

Michael The Magnificent said...

Good thing we're not running a deficit. Oh, wait!

Dustin said...

oh, they should have bought Honda Odysseys, made in Alabama. Dodges break down a lot. A. Lot.

Anyway, van pools don't make as much sense as folks owning cars and carpooling privately. It's unfair for the nation to subsidize small vehicles like this.

Busses, on the other hand, are excellent mass transit. It's always a shame when a city (such as Austin) pours enormous money into trains or van pools when they could just add more busses and routes. A bus is like a train, except you don't need to build a train station and rail. You can just add stops wherever people happen to go.

john said...

I think Chinese are hardworking and they have no matter with money

Alan said...

I could have bought two houses with that kind of cash.

(I live in Texas.)

Michael said...

Here's an idea. Give the vans to 18 enterprising people who will opearte private buses which will pick up people near where they live and take them where they want to go. The public transit people, sorry "folks"', would be upset because they drive buses according to when and where they want to go. These kinds of maverick buses operate profitably and perform a great service in Mexico and Central America and in places here in the US They drive the public people crazy. Having the buses sit idle is stupid on stilts.

edutcher said...

"You can't just keep a train in storage."

You silly girl.

There's a little commuter railroad where I used to live that bought some brandy-new cars. Problem was, they didn't like the cold weather, so guess where they spent the winter?

Don't Tread 2012 said...

This.

A good illustration of how government, big government, is poor at planning and wasteful.

"Public Works Director Allison Bussler said transit officials have been pitching the program to employers, whose workers could drive and ride the county vans to and from work for a fee."

Add to the list of things big government is - misguided. Government is not responsible for transportation of people to their jobs, whether they are civil service jobs or private concerns.

So when we see stories like this, rather than ask why a given program has failed, we should be asking why government has any business whatsoever getting involved in the first place.

The line of delineation is becoming more clear. One either believes that government should be limited in scope, or not. In the case of so-called 'progressives', the answer is 'not'.

James said...

It should be pointed out that Dan Vrakas is a Republican County Executive in one of the more conservative counties in south-east Wisconsin.

Mark Belling frequently criticizes Vrakas because while Scott Walker was cutting taxes in neighboring Milwaukee County, Vrakas always found ways to increase them fractionally then spin it as the best that could be done. So, for example, the Waukesha County tax levy for 2012 rises by 0.6 percent but as the Journal Sentinel helpfully points out; its the lowest increase in 30 years.

Dave said...

Call me a cynic, but I'm thinking an employer who wanted to provide a van as a benefit to employees would find it cheaper and easier to go lease a Grand Caravan from their local dealer than to participate in this government program.

Pogo said...

They learned this from how the gubmint warehouses old people no one wants.

Pogo said...

"Eight new Dodge Grand Caravans ...are sitting unused in storage at a county park"

Anyone who actually defends this should be fired.

michaele said...

As I read this, I felt a wave of nausea. Of course, it was after I had also read a couple of articles on the Greek debt crisis so my stomach was queasy from that. The governments of the world have been so dangerously foolish with their complete disregard for living within their means. It is all such a damn shame because the coming pain from all of this crap is going to be felt by most of us regular folks.

AJ Lynch said...

Central planning fails most of the time? Was that your meme last night with this post, the school board post and the other one?

James said...

How else was the government going to boost Chrysler sales?

TML said...

By far the biggest indictment of the government here is not that they bought them but that they couldn't figure out a way to "repurpose" them effectively once it became apparent that they'd sit idle. Because, truly, there are no people left in government with a real brain or the ability to look clearly at anything NOT attached to a political end. In a little over 30 comments here, there are about 5 good ideas for how the vans could be used to great benefit. Of course, as we all know, that will never happen because government is as nimble and flexible as the Washington Monument. Plus, as Glenn always says, using them sensibly eliminates opportunities for graft and corruption in the 'awarding" of these vans. Multiply this idiocy by one million instances and you can start to see the scope of the problem.

Scott M said...

There simply is too much money floating around the federal government. The only way to move toward getting control is to greatly reduce the size of government.

"Starve the beast" comes to mind.

mrego said...

Per Pelosi ("we must pass the bill to know what's in it"), they must get the vans before knowing what to do with them.

As it happens, my town could desperately use these vans. With 12% unemployment, little public transit, jobs in towns and counties 30 miles away, and gas prices still high, many people could have jobs that otherwise couldn't and many other cars could get off a narrow highway for three work shifts each day improving the economy, environment, traffic and safety. But instead they are sitting in storage, unused, 350 miles away from where they are needed.

Pogo said...

"But instead they are sitting in storage, unused, 350 miles away from where they are needed."

This is exactly how the new national health care law will work.

Big cities with political muscle will be the haves, all else the have-nots.

ErnieG said...

Call me a cynic, but I'm thinking an employer who wanted to provide a van as a benefit to employees would find it cheaper and easier to go lease a Grand Caravan from their local dealer than to participate in this government program.

Yes, but who would pay for the guy in the big leather chair downtown to administer the program? And his staff. And his brother in law.

Scott M said...

Big cities with political muscle will be the haves, all else the have-nots.

This is how the Canadian health system works from what my Canuck friends tell me.

MadisonMan said...

No, but it's a safe bet they'll be used to deliver reliably Democratic voters to the polls next year.

In Waukesha County? (laugh) Right.

ALH said...

Our city in WI bought a bus that was modified to look like a trolley car. It was bought in part with US Gov grant money (pre-stimulus). The goal was to increase tourism and resident use of the downtown area. It didn't work. Eventually, no one was riding the bus and it is out of use.

Now the city doesn't know what to do with it. (Ummm, how about we sell it ASAP to the highest bidder). But no!! We can't do that- city council members have described how they have seen the joy on children's faces when they would ride the trolley bus in the past. We HAVE to find some way to continue using it. The bus failed to meet a measurable goal - ridership declined and the cost of running it exceeded its revenue. So now, it must serve to give us emotional benefit. Meanwhile, it sits idle and declines in value.

"Small" things like this (i think the grant was $100K or more) are repeated thousands of times across the country.

The Regular Guy said...

Any reasonably intelligent adult could tell you what's wrong with this project.

First, people don't want to drive to work with their co-workers. They want their private life to be separate from their work life, and the drive in to work is part of their private life -- they listen to the music they want, or the talk radio they want, or the sports talk radio they want; they stop when they want to get a doughnut or coffee; they drop off their kids at school; they run a quick errand; they get up early some days to get in a quick workout at the gym, etc.

Second, picking up a number of people adds time to the process. Most people already don't have enough time in the morning and are rushing to work. They don't want to have to wait by the curb while Sue from Accounting pulls her stuff together or while Phil from Marketing goes back in to get his cell phone that he forgot.

Third, buying in to this kind of program requires a company to administer the program, to organize its workers into car pools. Government doesn't understand the cost of administering things because it's paid for by taxpayers. Companies do understand it. (The article notes that: "The driver or van pool coordinator must keep daily and monthly reports and logs of use, passengers, mileage and maintenance." Who wants to do that?)

Fourth, and most obviously, the cost of getting to work right now is paid for by the workers themselves; to the company it's free. Why would a company now want to pay a fee for the privilege of having their employees drive in a crappy state-owned mini-van, and likely be later to work than they were before? (The fee, incidentally, is $575 per month, or around $7,000 per year, not an insignificant sum for a business. Why would they take on this extra cost?)

I've thought about this for five minutes and poked some significant holes in the concept. Did anyone at the federal government handing out stimulus checks spend any time at all thinking about whether this was a good use of our money?

The Regular Guy said...

I hope Vrakas isn't as stupid as he sounds in this article. Right after the quote that several commenters have noted about how he thinks it's an innovative way to provide mass transit, he is quoted as saying the following two statements:

1. "We have too many empty buses running around..."

2. "We thought there would be more of a demand" for the mini-vans.

Why on earth would any sane person think that, if no one in Waukesha County wants to ride buses, they'll suddenly want to ride mini-vans? What is the logic there?

Sheesh!

PETER V. BELLA said...

Of course you can keep a train in storage. You just have to build a big enough useless building and lay tracks through it to move and store the useless train. That will create jobs which will stimulate the economy.

Stimulation gets lot's of people screwed.

mrkwong said...

Yes, you can store a train. You can employ lots of union labor to maintain it while it goes nowhere.

As for all those Grand Caravans, wanna bet that this particular scenario was repeated in state and municipal government in about 40 states?

After all, it's Chrysler.

And GM pretty much gave up on minivans a few years ago.

madAsHell said...

Out here in Seattle, we would find a way to give those assets to the First African Methodist Church.

It never occurs to our local government that they could sell the assets for more than a dollar.

Quaestor said...

The regular guy wrote:
Did anyone at the federal government handing out stimulus checks spend any time at all thinking about whether this was a good use of our money?

Correction: ...our borrowed money. Thinking is above their pay grade, up to and including Mr. Obama's pay grade.

wv: supit - How Gomez in his hip-hop mode greets Cousin It.

stan said...

George Kaiser explains the mindset. "there’s never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history and probably never will be again than in the last few months and the next 18 months. And our selfish parochial goal is to get as much of it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can."

Repeat in all 435 districts and all 57 states.

raf said...

A good illustration of how government, big government, is poor at planning and wasteful.

I disagree. I think government, especially big government is very good at wasteful.

tom said...

A. Shmendrik:
"In Georgia vans were purchased for those commuting from Macon to Atlanta. They sat parked for nearly 2 years "

You forgot to note that the "Powers That Be" really WANT to build a commuter railroad between Macon and Atlanta.
They could provide chauffeur driven limousines for each individual commuter and spend less money...
tom

Strelnikov said...

So when can we buy these at 50% off? Off retail I mean, not what they actually paid for them.

Martin said...

Vanools are yet another example of where if it makes sense, the private sector would do it.

In fact, in the 1980s and 1990s the private sector did do it. Chrysler had a subsidiary which would match up potential vanpool partners, based on their home and work locations and schedules, help them organize, and lease them a van with insurance, a maintenance program and everything. It was a nice way for Chrysler to "do something for the environment" while moving metal. It worked very well.

The federal subsidies starting in teh 1990s pretty much destroyed the market for that.

Your tax dollars at work, indeed.

SRArugula said...

I would like to suggest they name each van and then auction them off. Here are my suggestions:

-- Van Jones
-- Large Barge of Waste Recharge
-- Packer Slacker Stacker
-- Crisis Gone to Waste
-- Michelle Obama's Target Bus
-- IronVan Wisconsin

With the right names they could sell at a Premium

walter said...

Stimulus in action..raising blood pressure..which leads to increased pharma and alcohol purchases.

But these vanpools can be helpful. I rode one for a while back in '90 when I was saving for a car and it was just about full. Didn't have to be a state worker..was a small fee, if I remember right. But then..the schedule was so rigid and they returned before 5 so I had to get a ride to Badger Bus for the trip back.

But obviously Waukesha's purchase was disconnected from any measure of demand.

n.n said...

Government continues to distort the economy. The federal government appears to be a principal contributor, which it first finances through taxpayer funds (and debt accumulation), and then transfers its obligations to the larger market.

And people wonder why COLA is needed. Well, the distortion of the market through financing and unpaid government mandates are principal reasons, which are followed by progressive corruption of individuals and society, a selective rule of law, etc.

All of which are pursued with dreams of instant gratification.

PatCA said...

Jobs created: 1 van guard?

ken in sc said...

Here in my part of the world, the Greenville Transit system has buses going around all the time with nobody on them. They only survive because of subsidies. In near-by Clemson, they have a free bus system that operates between Clemson University, Seneca, and Anderson. Except for on the central campus, between the parking lots and classrooms, there's nobody on those buses either. It is paid for by a federal grant.

PatCA said...

They could always lease them out to people who want to start one of those taxi/bus services as in NYC. But that would be too free enterprisey I guess.

straightArrow said...

Cut them some slack....at least it wasn't stolen or unaccounted for...which is the usual sop for this group of idjits.

Mary Beth said...

Is someone on the transit committee buddies with the Chrysler dealer?