Obama's first instinct after getting elected President was to promise to put America back to work through "infrastructure" projects. He seemed to have an image in his head of modern construction projects as employing roughly as many people as you see toiling on the Great Pyramid of Cheops in a CGI scene from a PBS documentary on Ancient Egypt.
So, I've been paying attention to an infrastructure project near my house that started up last fall.
A four-lane street near my house has been torn up for about four or five months now, with bigger water and sewer pipes going in to support all the huge apartment buildings on the street that are being finished. Two lanes remain open, while two lanes are shut for about 1,200 feet. There are usually 10 to 12 large pieces of equipment parked in the construction zone.
But, how many workers are actually employed on the job site? Often, I don't see anybody. At 2 pm yesterday, I counted three. Today was a busy day, with six hard hats on-site. Granted, only two of them were actually working, but that's not the point, the point is that six were drawing paychecks and thus, presumably, stimulating the economy. But six is a lot for this very expensive project that has made making a left turn onto the street an ordeal.
I presume they have good reasons for the lack of activity (perhaps they have to let concrete dry?), but it seems typical for a modern streets and sanitation-type project: the number of hard hats employed on any given day is vanishingly small.