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The Broken Sidewalk Parable

The Broken Sidewalk Parable

You know about the sidewalks of Warren, Rhode Island, where millions were spend on replacing miles of sidewalks hardly anyone walked on, and which, in the rush to spend Stimulus money, were constructed improperly.

You also know about the sidewalks to heaven of Lincoln, Rhode Island, and the sidewalks to nowhere of Boynton, Oklahoma.

Now I present to you the sidewalk fiasco of Lincoln, Nebraska, where Stimulus funds were used to replace hundreds of wheelchair ramps which now must be replaced because the federal interpretations of rules for the slope of the ramps changed after the project was approved but before it was constructed.

As reported by the Lincoln Journal-Star, A mindless waste of money:

The story starts with congressional approval of federal stimulus funding that  pumped more than $800 billion into the economy for various projects.

In Lincoln, some of that money was designated for construction of sidewalk  curb ramps…. The ramps were designed according to specifications that were approved by  both the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Justice.

But when the federal inspector came along to make the final check, the work  was rejected.

Turns out the interpretation of the federal rule changed from the time  Lincoln’s designs were approved in early 2010 and when the curbs and ramps were  inspected later that year….

Appeals to reason have failed, leading the Journal-Star editors to conclude:

Councilman Jon Camp termed the replacement project an “absolute waste of  money.” Councilman Jonathan Cook pleaded, “At some point, there has to be a  reasonableness standard.”

But as too often is the case, the voices of common sense found themselves  powerless to stop the bureaucracy that continues to grind with mindless  disregard.

The Editors don’t get it.  This is job creation, twice.  Once to build the ramps, then to tear them out and rebuild them.

This is good.  This is Paul Krugman good.  This is broken window good.  This is Hurricane Irene good.

And when you rebuild them, tear them out, and build them again.  In time for the November 2012 elections, Obama needs the help.


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A few more rule changes like that and we’ll have Insta-Recovery, with apologies to Prof. Reynolds.

Lord Keynes would be so proud. Building ramps, destroying ramps, and building them again is so much better than digging holes and filling them back up.

Actually four times.

1. build them
2. tear them out
3. design over AND all the planning meetings and epa approvals and zoning approvals and all those meetings and hiring a contractor and arguing over that and then allocation of funds and arguing over that.
4. build new ramps.

Meanwhile NO ONE is using them.

Try this as an exercise; park as close as you can in a mall or say a Walmart parking lot where the handicap slots are located.

Watch closely.

It’s boring as all get out but worthwhile.

Count how many actual handicap people USE those slots. I don’t mean people who have handicap STICKERS I mean people who actually are handicap or there’s a handicap person in the vehicle.

After this and after you take your blood pressure medication, multiply this by tens of thousand so those slots all over the country.

Same deal as the ramps.

It would be cheaper to supply every handicapped person with a motorized wheel chair that can negotiate the normal curbing.

As for the parking slots. Thank you local MD’s giving out the recs so that able bodied folks can use them (illegally I might add even if they have a sticker. Only a vehicel carrying a handicapped person may use those slots. Legally)

George H.W. Bush’s little time bomb he dropped just as he left office is STILL costing us billions. And it’ not helping the handicap. It’s just making lawyers rich and liberals feel good about themselves.

    Anchovy in reply to jakee308. | November 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    My favorite is handicap parking places at the start of strenuous hiking trails.

    If you can’t walk the extra 30 feet to the start of the trail, you probably are going to have some serious problems with a trail that gains 3,000 feet in elevation in 3 miles.

    “It would be cheaper to supply every handicapped person with a motorized wheel chair that can negotiate the normal curbing”

    I like this idea best because the rest of us who live where it’s cold would not have to climb over snow banks to avoid slipping on those icy ramps.

      And it would create many, many jobs by hiring people to shovel the snow into the streets where the snow plows will throw the snow back onto the sidewalks, where people will shovel the snow back into the streets, where the snow plows will throw the snow back onto the sidewalks, where people will shovel the snow back into the streets … Sound Kafkaesque? Is that even a word?

    You are probably pretty much spot on EXCEPT that many persons holding Handicap Placards have actual handicaps which are not readily visible to a casual observer. I’ve been on both ends of this for over twenty years, and as an “issuer” of placards I was astounded at how many appeared “normal” but were severely restricted and had to be extremely careful not overdoing things. BUT, the worst problem with placards is family members fighting over them after mom or pop passes on, thinking it is their “right” to continue using them. That may be more of what you were seeing.

    I was involved in providing special handicap transportation at a world class sporting event and as they parked in our special, free lot we reviewed the “I.D. Card” required of every recipient. We rejected about 20% of them because it wasn’t the right person.

      jakee308 in reply to 49erDweet. | November 14, 2011 at 1:09 am

      Sorry, if you’re able to walk, then you’re NOT handicapped.

      I know full well what you mean as I have a bad back, bad knees and gout. When the stars (and my vertebrae) aren’t in alignment, I can hardly walk. BUT IT’S OBVIOUS THAT I CAN’T.

      I’ll grant that there might be a few conditions that merit a handicap sticker that don’t show. They’re few and far between though.

      Most folks doing this are relatives of the person handicapped who are able bodied. IT’S A SCAM!!

      Even given that the system is abused, VEHICLES DON’T USE THOSE SPACES OFTEN ENOUGH TO MERIT THE SET ASIDE.

      Remember that EVERY business has to have one or two. I don’t have the total figures but I’m guessing from the lack of use that there’s probably a minimum of 100 spaces for every handicap person (that’s being conservative).

      It’s stupid, it serves NO oNE except making do gooders feel good about themselves.

Ummm. Stupid question. Did it create any jobs?

Or did it just provide an order backlog for already employed civil servants whose union dues automatically are deducted from their paychecks and a portion of which automatically goes to Democrats?

Jakee 308

I wouln’t put it past the federal government to decide the first ramps were better and order these torn out and replaced with the originals.

I reaad a few years ago that the federal government was building houses for military personnel in Florida. Row after row of two story colonial houses were built. If anything at all was not perfect, they tore down the whole house and bult again from scratch. The federal government has always been about waste. Government empoyees go by rote not common sense.

    jakee308 in reply to BarbaraS. | November 14, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I once watched them tear up about a mile of road divider they had just put in because it wasn’t the correct height. It was off by about 2 inches.

    Cost == hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The Editors don’t get it. This is job creation, twice. Once to build the ramps, then to tear them out and rebuild them.”


It almost sounds like a system of insurance fraud.

It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to see that my home state of RI remains in the headlines albeit in a negative sense.

That simuli sure got around, eh?

Bedtime reading for the liberal toddler:

” … but the third bureaucrat piggy, unlike his two brothers, built his sidewalk out of concrete … and the big bad wolf couldn’t break it.

Not only that … the third bureaucrat piggy’s sidewalk was the ‘sidewalk to nowhere’ … nobody used it … so the wolf couldn’t even find it!!”

LukeHandCool (who can just imagine the delight of both liberal parent and child alike when the teabagger wolf loses in the end, and the sidewalk is rightfully demolished by piggies working on the latest jobs program).

This is one area where we are way out ahead of Europe in the nanny state race. If you are handicapped in England, France or Italy, you are out of luck. Not even major public buildings are handicapped accessible.

The government does nothing well! Why in the world is the federal government telling cities how to build sidewalks and ramps! It is almost like the Constitution has only 8 amendments or something.

We need a candidate who will end this nonsense and restore the proper balance between states and the federal government.

Evidently, Barack Obama and $800 billion won’t get you a cup of coffee or a sidewalk to beg on…

An older acquaintance of mine in California has a couple of in-vitreo kids, diagnosed as autistic, which he says is a marginal diagnosis, but it allows for state assistance and it gives him a handicapped sticker, so that he can park close to his office, even when the kids are not around.

Off topic, sorry.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Lesley Gore this week.

She’s so evocative of the early 1960s. What pipes. She may be gay, but I’ll always be attracted to her. After so many boy-hurts-girl hits I hope she’s found happiness with her partner. Uncanny how much she looks like my sister. They don’t make ’em like her anymore.

My only question is … why did she choose the stage name Gore? Why couldn’t she have chosen a name like Reagan?