If all we get is a circus, can’t we at least have trained seals and bears on unicycles?

The Interior Department is directing more than $300 million in federal “economic stimulus” money to the Bureau of Land Management to update its facilities, roads and trails and jump-start renewable energy projects across the country, said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, honking and clapping like a trained seal here on Saturday, May 2.

Secretary Salazar said the 650 approved projects will “restore our landscapes and our watersheds” and help fulfill the Obama administration’s target for “renewable energy development” (i.e. — pretending they can generate enough electricity to keep America’s economy from collapsing, without using uranium or coal.)

Secretary Salazar made the announcement at the Red Rock Conservation Area outside Las Vegas. The fire station on the little loop road west of Las Vegas is one of several facilities slated to receive solar panels under the effort.

The money is part of the $3 billion sent to the Interior Department under the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment (“Porkulus”) Act.

Secretary Salazar said Saturday he could not estimate how many jobs would be created by the specific $305 million in BLM spending announced Saturday, though the Interior Department hopes the total $3 billion allocation will create roughly 100,000 new jobs.

The largest chunk of the funding — roughly $143 million — will go toward new construction, deferred maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades on existing facilities. In Nevada, that will include $1.2 million to install solar panels at 16 remote fire stations, $6.8 million on abandoned mine cleanup, and $8 million to clear up a backlog in permit applications for people who want to install wind and solar projects — but not projects that could deliver substantial amounts of cheap power quickly by using coal or other proven technologies, mind you — on public lands.

Of everything mentioned so far, posting and possibly fencing off potentially dangerous abandoned mine diggings could at least make a contribution to public safety — though it’s hard to imagine how, under a Constitution which still includes the Tenth Amendment, this could be remotely considered a federal responsibility.

Nor is it easy to foresee how any such “created jobs” could be expected to last long, unless Mr. Salazar plans to send another crew on ahead of them, digging new “abandoned mineshafts” as fast as they can.

One line item in Mr. Salazar’s festival of fiscal frivolity calls for spending $800,000 in federal tax moneys to repair trails in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, near Henderson.

Gosh, only a few months ago the concern was how to keep people from finding out where the old Indian pictographs in Sloan Canyon WERE, to prevent them being defaced. Now the federal government wants to pave the trail? Will they follow the example of the Japanese, who not only paved the hiking route up Mount Fuji, but also placed benches and cold-beer vending machines at convenient intervals?

Pardon a little adult intervention into this zillion-dollar equivalent of a kids’ birthday party, but pony rides, paper hats, and hiring people to slap solar panels on the roofs of rural outhouses and fire stations only just barely qualify as “creating jobs.”

Real jobs involve producing something that consumers — either here or abroad, among our trading partners — want and will voluntarily pay for. There’s no reason to believe one-time desert make-work schemes, building things no one would voluntarily buy, will “buoy” the economy any better now than when FDR tried the same thing with his 1930s “Civilian Conservation Corps” — keeping men dependent on the government and thus stretching the Great Depression by an extra seven years.

What is any newly trained “outhouse solarizer” going to do when you run out of BLM outhouses?

Meantime, the money to fund this brain-dead scheme was or will be looted from the bank account of a private entrepreneur who might have put the same guys to work building some new invention that people would actually, voluntarily, you know … buy.

This nation is in an economic whirlpool. Wasting precious tax money — looted mostly from the proprietors and remaining employees of small businesses now hanging on by their fingernails — on the green dreams of Mr. Obama and his ivory tower academics would be hilarious, if real Americans weren’t hurting — and wondering what their tax bills will look like by 2011.

Here’s a better idea: The BLM manages nearly 260 million acres of land, largely concentrated in a dozen Western states. But the Constitution says that (leaving aside the District of Columbia) within the several states, the federal government shall have plenary authority over only such lands as shall be needed to construct “Forts, Magazines, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings,” and which shall have been “purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be.”

The BLM can show no bills of sale for the vast majority of these lands. They have never purchased these lands, nor even sought state legislative approval to do so. They do not own them. Let them turn over those 260 million acres — a whopping 85 percent of the state, in Nevada’s case — to the governments of the respective states in which they lie, and go home to Washington City.

The states could then sell off these lands (using the proceeds to eliminate all taxes on their people for decades), or open them to homesteading by citizens, as they see fit.

It would sure be a lot more “stimulating” to the economy than looting money from the pockets of struggling Americans to create short-term employment for $30-an-hour construction workers and a few favored contractors, retrofitting solar outhouses.

That’s hilarious.

Clap your hands, now. Honk honk.


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