EDITORIAL: Stimulus Spending That Makes Sense
It's hard to imagine any stimulus expenditure that makes more sense and raises fewer valid objections than the $8 million coming Moore County's way.
We're biased, of course, since it's our community that is on the receiving end of a couple of the projects for which funding was announced this past week. But if anything that the stimulus is trying to accomplish is justifiable -- and we realize that's a pretty big "if" in some minds -- then surely the work planned for here qualifies as eminently sensible and noncontroversial.
Thank goodness North Carolina's new Democratic governor, Bev Perdue, is not taking the same unreasoningly negative stand as Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana -- who, by threatening to turn down stimulus money from the Obama administration, seems determined to see his state cut off its nose to spite its face. (The fact that Perdue has no presidential ambitions and Jindal does may have something to do with it.)
Honoring Local Priorities
"Our overriding goal," Perdue said in a press release, "is to get North Carolina's economy moving by funding transportation projects that will create jobs from the mountains to the coast."
Among 70 highway and bridge improvements envisioned for the Tar Heel state are two in Moore County: $5 million to widen and strengthen N.C. 24-27 from the Robbins area westward to the Montgomery County line; and $3 million to pave the shoulders of U.S. 1 from Morganton Road in Southern Pines to Aiken Road at Vass.
There are few issues, either philosophical or practical, to raise here. These are not the kinds of projects that invite ridicule (fairly or unfairly), like the millions included in the stimulus package for volcano monitoring. They aren't "pork," in the sense of a pet project that some congressman slipped in to benefit his home district while nobody was looking. They don't represent "socialism" allegedly designed to transfer wealth from rich to poor. They're not bridges to nowhere. They're not social engineering, food stamps or unemployment compensation. They can't be accused of trying to encourage welfare mentality or favor some special interest group.
Nor are they examples of the federal government cramming its priorities down the state's throat. Indeed, they are based on highway priorities long ago established at the state and local level. In the words of Tim Johnson, division engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation's office in Aberdeen, "these are projects that the staff has wanted to do for years, but there was no funding."
What these plans do represent is badly needed infrastructure improvement that everybody can understand and support. Look at the shoulders of U.S. 1 next time you head out of Southern Pines headed for Raleigh. Actually, you can't, because in many places there aren't any paved shoulders at all -- at the most just grassy areas that are dangerous to pull off onto in an emergency.
These projects will benefit everyone across a wide spectrum. They will create good, local employment. And they can start doing so quickly. According to Johnson, the goal is to let contracts by June -- just three months away.
Whether there should have been a stimulus program at all is an argument for another time and another place. Now that there is such a program, and federal money is going to start flowing down the pipeline, North Carolina and Moore County deserve their rightful share. Let the work begin as soon as possible.
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