Jobs That Appear When the Taxpayer Money Starts to Flow

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Here’s a doozy of an example of government waste:

Workers in the East Side Access tunnel, which will connect Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan with the Long Island Rail Road. The project’s costs have ballooned to nearly $3.5 billion for each new mile of track. …

The budget showed that 900 workers were being paid to dig caverns for the platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting the historic station to the Long Island Rail Road. But the accountant could only identify about 700 jobs that needed to be done, according to three project supervisors. Officials could not find any reason for the other 200 people to be there.

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Sadly, one suspects that this is just an extreme version of a typical activity, and that’s before one points out the reality of jobs that are happily claimed on the books, but that could easily be discarded, such as the proverbial three union workers on every project whose apparent job is to watch the one who’s actually doing something.



  • guest

    It’s great that your are reading some legitimate news sources like the “falling” NYT. So what do we replace the private companies have been overseeing this project with? Another governmental agency?

    • Justin Katz

      I’d argue that government policy (such as prevailing wage) is the ultimate source of this waste even when a private contractor is involved.

      • guest

        Really? Prevailing wage plays a role hiring unnecessary labor by private contractors? Interesting theory. I think it would incentivize efficiencies by the contractor, as profitability is or should be their motivation.

        • Justin Katz

          Those sorts of policies limit the contractors who will take on the work, leaving the state with limited options, all of them powerful political players, not the least because they’re tied in with powerful labor unions. It’s taxpayer money that ultimately funnels back around to politicians, in one way or another, so efficiency isn’t a concern. What would lower the price and encourage efficiency is increased competition and less rent seeking.

          • Rhett Hardwick

            Some, more cynical than myself, might wonder why the “prevailing wage” tends to equal the “union wage”. I know contractors who will not take work covered by Prevailing Wage. How do you explain to the guys that this month you are worth $28.00 per hour, next month it is back to $19.00. This has led to what the unions call “double breasted” contractors. They have basically two companies, one does prevailing wage work, the other does not. They cannot be competitive on private jobs, while paying prevailing wage.

          • guest

            I don’t disagree, so where is the call for relaxing the requirements for bidding (i.e. eliminating prevailing wage)? The predictable (and perhaps deserved) union bashing isn’t going to solve the problem but proposing a solution might. That’s not addressed in your commentary.

          • Justin Katz

            Fair comment. I’m constrained in how much I can put into every post, and I’m pretty sure I from time to time point to things like prevailing wage, but it’s kind of difficult to tease from union bashing when my conclusion is that the unions have transformed our political system mostly to get things like prevailing wage.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    When I see stories like this, and people are surprised, I wonder if everyone who watched the “Sopranos” thought it was all fiction. Remember the scenes where the boys are promised “jobs” on every city contract and are then shown sitting around playing cards at the job site. Although 200 seems extreme, that is how it is. When reading of rubbish contractor stories, try to recall that Tony Soprano was in the rubbish business. Try Googling “Waste Management” and “Criminal Activities” If you have access to CORI, run the names of the originators of Waste management. “Listed” company, or not, you might note they were recently caught shipping a Billion offshore to avoid taxation. They used the same “Big 7″ accounting firm as Enron. That firm (Arthur Anderson) went down with Enron. When the other big rubbish contractor tried to move in on Waste Management, the district manager’s wife found a horse’s head on her front lawn. Sound familiar? For generations, NYC has refused to collect commercial rubbish; leaving it wide open. You don’t get any bargains on rubbish removal there.

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