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Microsoft Government The Almighty Buck News

"Bridge To Microsoft" Gets Federal Stimulus Funds 343

Posted by kdawson
from the them-as-has dept.
theodp writes "Among the first to benefit from the investment in roads and bridges from Obama's stimulus plan is Microsoft, which has $20B in the bank. Local planners have allotted $11M to help pay for a highway overpass to connect one part of Microsoft's wooded campus with another. Microsoft will contribute almost half of the $36.5M cost; other federal and local money will pay the rest. 'Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates could finance this out of pocket change,' griped Steve Ellis of the Taxpayers for Common Sense. 'Subsidizing an overpass to one of the richest companies in the country certainly isn't going to be the best use of our precious dollars.' Ellis called the project 'a bridge to Microsoft,' alluding to Alaska's infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere.'" A White House spokesman said this bridge project is still under review.
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"Bridge To Microsoft" Gets Federal Stimulus Funds

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  • so? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @03:46PM (#27201933) Homepage

    Unless it is a toll road which Microsoft owns completely, there is nothing wrong with using public money to build the road.

    • Re:so? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @03:49PM (#27201965)
      Ok, if Washington is anything like my states, there are plenty of roads that need repairs and bridges that need to be built before a bridge that only helps one company. Essentially all this does is go from one end of MS's campus to the other. So who uses this? MS and their employees. When there are crumbling bridges and potholes in roads that many, many, more people travel on, it doesn't make any sense to build a road that is only to be used by one company.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by steve.howard (988489)
        • Re:so? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by pintpusher (854001) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:10PM (#27205047) Journal

          I can't wait to get my street paved... it's asphalt on dirt and has more cracks and potholes than actual road surface left. They've been patching it with cold patch for about 5 years now. At one point, I would see several cars a night with flats from one particularly nasty pothole... typically it was a bent rim for added excitement. We're slated for curb-to-curb rebuild this summer. Hopefully they'll fish all the VW Beetles out of the potholes before they start digging.

          And before you scream OT... I'm in WA ;-P

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

        Meh. On the one hand, yes. On the other hand, Microsoft probably brings in a teeny tiny bit of revenue for that community, and it's not uncommon for local governments to show their appreciation by funding projects like this.

        They're going halfzies, I don't see anything wrong with it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Darkness404 (1287218)
          I would agree that it isn't a bad thing if all their other roads which people use are in great shape. However, I doubt that is the case. You should serve the public first, corporations and government second. If they got stimulus money to fund roads, I would certainly hope they would fix the roads most people used first then move on to side roads second. Or at least fix the worst first and then move on to improving other roads.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cbhacking (979169)

            Redmond's roads are actually in quite nice shape, quality-wise. The issue is that a section of the SR-520 highway (which connects Microsoft Seattle as well as to much of Redmond and parts of Bellevue) is already as wide as it can realistically be - the exit ramps are three lanes wide, the overpasses are six(!!), and there's not much space on either side - nonetheless experiences MAJOR congestion. Since a large portion of this overpass bridges' traffic is MS employees getting to and from work or between part

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aevans (933829)
          Microsoft and it's employees *are* the community. Believe it or not, real live people (often citizens) work at corporations. Microsoft employees paid the taxes that will fund the overpass. (Actually, I think the supposed overpass has already existed for about 10 years.) And don't worry about the other projects in the state of Washington that *need* it more. They wouldn't get funded anyway no matter what. They haven't yet, and there's been plenty of money in the state budget for a long time now.
        • And those MS employees are residents of the state, so this is benefiting citizens of Washington. If you're against the stimulus altogether, then I can understand that, but otherwise, what did you expect?

          Of course, I'm one of those people that thought the Bridge to Nowhere was a bridge to the Ketchikan airport.

        • Re:so? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:25PM (#27204131) Journal

          >>>Microsoft probably brings in a teeny tiny bit of revenue for that community

          The amount of money MS gives the community is far less than 11 million dollars. This is the equivalent of spending ten dollars to get a 1 dollar coupon mailed to yourself. The money spent exceeds the money earned. It's foolish.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)

        FYI, the roads here outright suck, this was a decision they made to ensure that the stupid Seattlites wouldn't get their fair share of the stimulus dollars. I happen to know of at least 3 fairly substantial projects which would have been a better choice than this bridge.

        And that leaves out options like fixing our streets or our aging electrical grid. Or perhaps fixing the streetlight out front of my parents' house which has been broken for the last 2 decades. And no I'm not exaggerating, it's been broken si

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

          The only fair way to distribute money taken at gunpoint, ie. taxes, is to not take the money away in the first place.

          But since America loaned too much money in the recent past, you're government is solving that for you by forcing you (promising to send your future taxes to someone in trade for money now) to take out much more loans.

          Yes. You read that right. The government is solving the problem of Americans (and others) loaning to much by making you loan more.

          This is, according to a certain democrat "redivi

      • Washington is - they have a massive backlog of highway projects.

        The really insulting thing is - they pull crap like this after laying of over a thousand people, and then make us pay for their projects.

      • Re:so? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@chromablu[ ]et ['e.n' in gap]> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:36PM (#27202425)
        How myopic. As someone who once worked at MS (and now at a Linux company, so sad that I feel I need to qualify that) - Redmond is a traffic nightmare, due to the sheer volume of intercampus transport for Microsoft (and other companies in the area, but MS is certainly the biggest).

        Would an overpass benefit MS? Absolutely. Would it take SEVERAL THOUSAND VEHICLES A DAY off of Redmond's roads, much to the benefit of Redmond locals and other Washington residents? Absolutely.

        This whole "Why MS? They've got money!" thing stinks more of people here's biases than an actual rational review of the situation. You want perspective? The city of Redmond is 47,000 people. There are 40,000 employees of Microsoft in Redmond every day. Not accounting for the overlap between the two, that means Redmond's population is DOUBLED during the day due to Microsoft alone, let alone Nintendo, Safeco Insurance, etc, etc, etc. See why reducing traffic on the area's arterial roads is a benefit for the entire community, not just MS?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          How myopic. As someone who once worked at MS (and now at a Linux company, so sad that I feel I need to qualify that) - Redmond is a traffic nightmare, due to the sheer volume of intercampus transport for Microsoft (and other companies in the area, but MS is certainly the biggest).

          I am not living anywhere near there, so I would curious to know how much of this traffic is made up of single person vehicles and how much is made up by multi-passenger vehicles like buses. If it is the former, then surely the solu

          • Re:so? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert@chromablu[ ]et ['e.n' in gap]> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:55PM (#27202583)
            Microsoft actually does extremely well with their shuttling situation. For large, common routes, they use large buses. For smaller routes they use "commuter" buses, running on a regular schedule.

            For on-demand shuttle usage, you go to any building reception, request a shuttle. They have an integrated dispatch network which will aggregate trips, so along comes a Prius (they only use the Prius), picks you up, makes as many pickups as possible in a beeline between you and your destination, attempting to fill the car where possible, and then drops you off in the optimal fashion. In this sense, it's pretty hard to fault Microsoft (who also offer all employees free public transport passes, paid for by the company).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Quothz (683368)

            I am not living anywhere near there, so I would curious to know how much of this traffic is made up of single person vehicles and how much is made up by multi-passenger vehicles like buses.

            What Achromatic said: many MS employees (and permanent/semi-permanent contractors) use company shuttles once on campus. A few bicycle around, or walk if it isn't too far; the campus is beautiful. However, thousands upon thousands of non-MS employees go there every day, for conferences, contract work, pizza delivery, and so forth. The MS campus is huge and made up of a tangled mess of twisty little roads, all alike.

            Traffic during the rush hours is horrific; it isn't so bad the rest of the time, but driving a

        • by Nethead (1563)

          Bitching about the bridge is just as silly as trying to get MicroSoft to pay for the new SR520 bridge!

        • Redmond (the city) better darn well be getting taxes from Microsoft. So if Redmond (the city) has traffic issues, why are THEY not paying for new roads, in conjunction with Microsoft?

          How about YOU pay for some overcrowded surface road in my city that sucks during rush hour? No? Well then.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by linhux (104645)

          This whole "Why MS? They've got money!" thing stinks more of people here's biases

          Who are these people? Most of the highly moderated comments here so far seem to say that this is a non-issue and that the story is a troll. In fact, I just counted, and reading at +4, there are five comments who agree with you, while one comment is neutral and one disagrees.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Ok, if Washington is anything like my states, there are plenty of roads that need repairs and bridges that need to be built before a bridge that only helps one company

        This isn't a bridge that only helps one company. RTFA.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mysticgoat (582871)

        The key here is "shovel ready". Most road improvements involve long and costly arguments with land owners about the value of the fifty foot long by ten foot wide strip that the city or state needs to acquire before the first construction worker can put on his hard hat. The only income generated during that first phase is what the lawyers make... and as a group lawyers don't stimulate anybody's local economy. But in this situation Microsoft already owns the land involved, so it should be a matter of a few we

      • That's a lot of jobs. When you realize that some cities would fork over hundreds of millions in annual tax abatements just to get that many jobs, pitching in on a bridge is not a bad deal.

    • Unless it is a toll road which Microsoft owns completely, there is nothing wrong with using public money to build the road.

      Have you never heard of allocation of resources according to priority?

      It may technically be a public road, but all it's going to benefit is a few Microsoft workers.

      Just like the bridge in Alaska was only going to benefit a few people in a remote location already served by ferry.

      Do you honestly think there's nothing better to do with $30 million than helping a few thousand Microsoft empl

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        You obviously don't live in the area or drive on the 40th street overpass. I do. I don't work for Microsoft, and I would use that road several times per month just in the course of travelling to various entertainment venues. What we have here is a non-story about a project that is useful, estimated to cost between 15-36M, and which Microsoft has already dropped $11M on. Show me how many Seattle businesses are willing to put extra cash of their own (in addition to tax base they already supply) on the line t
    • Re:so? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @03:59PM (#27202049) Homepage

      The City of Redmond thinks the project has value as well for traffic in other parts of the city. MS is picking up half the cost because they're the main beneficiary.

      I'm the first one to scalp MS or jump on wasteful spending, but this doesn't seem that bad. It'll provide a lot of construction jobs, ease traffic on other roads in Redmond. I supposed you could argue there are other bridge and road projects in Washington that need the money worse. But as long as it's a public roadway and not some kind of gated private road...to me this doesn't seem to be in the same class as the Bridge to Nowhere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dwhitaker (1500855)
        I think that most people would agree with you right now considering the economy. The only reason this is news-worthy at all is that Microsoft is the primary beneficiary and the mention of their name alone seems to make everything controversial.
    • Are you insane?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by denzacar (181829) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @03:59PM (#27202053) Journal

      It's Micro$oft!!!!11eleven!

      Do you know how many american babies they will have to sacrifice per square inch of that road?
      I didn't think so! /sarcasm

      Hey... how about the view-point that Microsoft is actually paying for half of that road - which WILL NOT BE MICROSOFT PROPERTY ONCE BUILT.
      Or... the fact that it appears that the community actually needs that overpass.

      Easing Congestion

      The city of Redmond says the overpass will relieve congestion on other streets and support a big employer in the region, though one cutting jobs lately.
      Microsoft said in January that it's eliminating as many as 5,000 jobs, including some from its Seattle-area workforce of 41,480.

      "This project is a mobility improvement for the area as a whole," said Lou Gellos, a spokesman for Microsoft.
      An existing bridge a few blocks away is congested and a nightmare for pedestrians and bicycle riders, he said.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by BitZtream (692029)

        WILL NOT BE MICROSOFT PROPERTY ONCE BUILT.

        I would just like to point out, this also means they don't have to maintain it, the tax payers do.

        Microsoft can certainly pay for it themselves, we've all been paying the god damn Windows tax for years, like it or not, let'em build their own damn roads. Or decentralize some more so the population isn't so dense.

        Just shows Microsoft (and Redmond) haven't learned anything from the Internet or diversified networks.

      • Do you know how many American babies they will have to sacrifice per square inch of that road?

        Don't worry, they'll just visa in some off-shore babies to do the job.

    • by darjen (879890)

      Yes, there is something wrong with taking my money and giving it to the wealthy.

      • by Macthorpe (960048)

        I'm sorry, what will Microsoft have been 'given' when this is finished?

        Just to give you a clue, it won't be a bridge.

        • by darjen (879890)

          Did you not read the article? Or my post?

          Taxpayer money is being spent to directly benefit Microsoft. Where did I say they would be given a bridge?

      • by drsquare (530038)

        I'd imagine that Microsoft and their employees pay far more than their fair share of taxes, why shouldn't they get something back?

        • by darjen (879890)

          I'm not so sure... the only reason microsoft is in the position they are is because of the artificial government granted monopoly over an idea, what we call "intellectuak property". So they've been using the force of government to back up the windows tax for a long time, wouldn't be nearly so wealthy without that.

  • It will really boost the economy.
    Film at 11.

  • Waste (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anenome (1250374) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @03:50PM (#27201975)

    Public works projects as a way of recovering from a recession has never worked. It didn't work for the Japanese in the 90's, they spent 10 years building roads and bridges and wondering why nothing was happening. It didn't work for us in the 30's. And it will never work.

    We need to stop listening to Keynesian and socialist economists who don't have the first clue what they're talking about and are trying to give solutions based on theory instead of what's been shown to work.

    You want to turn this economy around? Cut taxes to 20%, max. Reduce regulations on small businesses \ cut the red tape.

    The government cannot create jobs except government jobs, and government jobs do not build an economy. All government can do is get out of the way, and keep the playing field fair for the players.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      Cut taxes to 20%, max.

      I wonder what I could buy if I had 80% of my money. Oh, wait, sales tax would also be 20%? Guvmint's gotta get its fix somehow.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I live in Finland, and I generally don't have a beef with the gov't taking a substantial proportion of my income. Sure, part of it goes to things I think we could live without (new helicopters for the military, construction of music halls, etc). However, knowing that my taxes are used to support things such as basic infrastructure, the social security system and universal healthcare, makes me happy to be able to pay them. Because who knows, maybe someday I'll find myself unemployed, without an income, and r
      • by evilviper (135110)

        I wonder what I could buy if I had 80% of my money. Oh, wait, sales tax would also be 20%? Guvmint's gotta get its fix somehow.

        I wonder how much money you'd be making in the first place without your reaping of the benefits all those government programs your taxes are paying for...

        Public schools? Public roads? Police force? Hospitals? Cheap electricity? Clean water? Advanced technology (NASA, DARPA, the internet, etc.)?

        The idea that the money we pay in taxes is purely a detriment to us is ridiculous, a

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        ``Oh, wait, sales tax would also be 20%?''

        That's almost what we pay over here in the Netherlands. We pay 19%, to be exact.

    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garett_spencley (193892) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:11PM (#27202177) Journal

      Because the term "Keynesian economics" is being used so much, we might as well inform those who have no idea what you and I and the rest of us free-market people are talking about.

      John Maynard Keynes [wikipedia.org] was a British economist in the early 1900's. He wrote a book called "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" which basically outlined various interventionist policies that the government could employ and what short-term effects they would have on the economy. It was very highly refuted but it gave the government a bunch of easy answers and policies that would ultimately expand government control, yet would be easy to sell to the public. Keynes' work is highly taught by government-subsidized Universities all over the world. Almost anyone taking economics at a University level will be taught "Keynesian Economics".

      Anyone who wants to hear both sides of the argument should pick up a copy of General Theory as well as Henry Hazzlitt's "Failure of the New Economics" which is one of the best refutations of Keynes' principles.

      • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:20PM (#27202263) Journal

        Fuck the Austrian school! Why is it ALWAYS the Austrians with the libertarians?

        At least cite Milton Friedman [wikipedia.org] for a good critique of excessive government spending. He at least believed in a modern monetary policy, and wasn't advocating the goddamn gold standard. Can you even come up with a less realistic metric for a world economy than gold?

        • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

          by garett_spencley (193892) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:35PM (#27202415) Journal

          Sure I can come up with something way worse than gold: paper. The gold standard was considered unstable, and we did have a panic of 1907 that got the public behind paper money, however, comparing the stability of gold to paper is a joke. Paper money has been highly unstable and since it's introduction there has been nothing but inflation.

          Money needs to be an economic good in order to be used as money. In other words, it has to have value as used as something *other* than money. Because it is a medium of indirect exchange. In order really understand it's significance it helps to imagine a world with no concept of "money".

          Let's say that you're a dairy farmer. You can't stockpile milk indefinitely, and you can't sell enough milk in one day to pay for everything that you need. You need something that you can exchange your milk for that will be small, convenient, easy to save and extremely easy to trade later on. That's how money evolved. People have used rice, salt, pepper, gold, silver etc. Now we're using paper and the only reason it has any value what-so-ever is because the government forces us to use it. Yet every single time the government prints a new dollar it's value diminishes because there is more of it. Eventually the currency becomes worthless. In fact, it's not even proper to call fiat currency money. Originally it was a claim that be redeemed for money, until the government cut that off and forced everyone to trade worthless pieces of paper called banknotes. Why would they do that ? Because having a real asset backing the currency prevents them from running the presses excessively and limits their control and ability to expand their own projects. Only when they run the presses eventually the currency becomes worthless.

          The US dollar is worth about 3 or 4 cents compared to what it was in 1913, when the Federal Reserve was created. Giving a central authority, even if it's the government, complete control over the creation of money always results in runaway inflation. Every single country in world history that has tried paper money has run it into the ground. Every single one.

          I agree with a lot of Friedman's views but that one issue I STRONGLY disagree with him on. We don't have to use gold, although what I would like to see at the very least is the abolition of laws that prevent people from using gold if they so wish. Government should not be dictating the terms of contracts. I've heard some arguments in favour of legal tender laws (the courts will need to decide what to to be used in civil cases etc. legal tender simplifies that), but Canada doesn't have any law determining what people can use in contracts. No one is forced to trade the Canadian dollar in Canada, even stores don't have to accept the Canadian dollar if they don't want to. People should be able to trade with whatever they want, and legal tender must be backed by *something*.

          • The relative value of currency over a period of time has absolutely nothing to do with the actual standard of living in a country...If we wanted to, we could adopt a tight monetary policy and jack the relative value of our currency through the roof. It'd also spawn massive deflation, and basically end farming and manufacturing in this country.

            The idea that a physical anchor (e.g. the gold standard) is going to magically stem inflation or stabilize markets is naive. All you're really doing is screwing with t

            • "The relative value of currency over a period of time has absolutely nothing to do with the actual standard of living in a country...If we wanted to, we could adopt a tight monetary policy and jack the relative value of our currency through the roof. It'd also spawn massive deflation, and basically end farming and manufacturing in this country."

              True, but I'm going to skip over that for just a second because I think I answer that while responding to your other points.

              "The idea that a physical anchor (e.g. th

        • Can you even come up with a less realistic metric for a world economy than gold?

          Ballet performances in Spandau?

          Always believe in your soul!

      • Bad economic models lead to even worse politics.
        Sakdoctor's Leave it the fuck alone school of economics.

        Oh, and I talked to many economic students at university. They progressively developed this ability, to bury common sense under layers of bullshit, until they even convinced themselves.
        See also: Securitization

    • Yeah, there was one scary thing Obama said when reporters accused the stimulus bill of being a spending bill, he said, "Of course it's a spending bill. Spending is how you stimulate the economy." While in part spending can help, the majority of the bill was actually NOT targeted towards growth, I kind of think of it as the "Pelosi Party Victory Bill," in that the democrats won, so now they want their turn to spend on what they want; for example, extending health-care benefits to the unemployed. Sure it h
    • The government are not creating jobs. That is simply a side effect. They can't realistically fly over American towns in helicopters and drop dollar notes, though that would probably be as effective.

      What they are doing by performing useless public works is transferring private debt to the public purse. The government borrows and spends, the spending pays off the private debts.

       

    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:36PM (#27202429)

      Public works projects as a way of recovering from a recession has never worked.

      Public works by themselves can't fix a broken economy, but they can be a useful part of a solution if done right.

      It didn't work for the Japanese in the 90's, they spent 10 years building roads and bridges and wondering why nothing was happening. It didn't work for us in the 30's. And it will never work.

      I gave ten bucks to a homeless guy and he was begging again later that day. Obviously giving money to the poor doesn't help them significantly. See the logical fallacy? An example does not make something a truism.

      We need to stop listening to Keynesian and socialist economists who don't have the first clue what they're talking about and are trying to give solutions based on theory instead of what's been shown to work.

      Yeah, if only there were countries with higher standards of living an more stable economies and higher median wealth than the US. We could do what they do. Oh, wait there are such countries and they almost all implement socialist programs you are claiming don't work.

      You want to turn this economy around? Cut taxes to 20%, max.

      Tax cuts haven't worked in practice and credible economist will tell you there isn't even a viable theory as to how that would work. Trickle down economics has failed. The biggest proponents among economist, even die hards like Greenspan, have abandoned it. The wealth has consolidated at the top and it isn't trickling back down. The only people still advocating that nonsense are paid publications trying to provide PR materials for policies no reputable economist will touch.

      educe regulations on small businesses \ cut the red tape.

      Yeah, reducing regulations has helped a lot too. It results in businesses that pass on a lot of the costs of their doing business to the rest of society.

      The government cannot create jobs except government jobs, and government jobs do not build an economy.

      Our tax dollars funded the research and equipment that was the internet. Our tax dollars funded the universities who expanded it and built the software to make it useful. It has created millions of jobs that are not government jobs and makes up a huge part of the world economy. Government spending can and does create more jobs and bring more growth to the economy than the same money spent by the private sector. It doesn't always. The spending has to be carefully picked for that purpose, but it certainly can and has done so in the past.

      All government can do is get out of the way, and keep the playing field fair for the players.

      That's the problem. The playing field is not fair. We'd like to think our economy is a meritocracy, but it isn't. Wealth is mostly transferred by inheritance and with our current tax policies pretty much every economic model predicts wealth will continue to consolidate into fewer hands, the middle class will shrink, and the lower class will grow. Reducing taxes across the board accelerates this process. The only thing that will change it is a complete wealth redistribution ala revolution, or increasing the progressiveness of taxes to take some of that money back from the high end, enough to at least balance out wealth condensation. Then, that money needs to be put back into the economy on the low end, raising the overall wealth of the poor. One way that has worked in many other countries is socialized medicine, where the consolidated nature usually leads to greater efficiency overall.

      I can go on and go into detail, but I think a lot of people here don't have much of a grasp on economics. Our economic crisis s not that we don't have enough money. The problem is the money is too inequitably distributed (just like during the great depression) and this leads to a volatile stock market and overall loss of wealth as it is lost dur

  • The real news item (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bandannarama (87670)
    is that a commercial entity is ponying up half the cost for something that could/should be handled by the government. From TFA:

    "This project is a mobility improvement for the area as a whole," said Lou Gellos, a spokesman for Microsoft. An existing bridge a few blocks away is congested and a nightmare for pedestrians and bicycle riders, he said.

    So, we have the relatively common phenomenon that commercial development has outgrown the infrastructure. Big deal. Usually the government handles this as part of its own work, without direct commercial assistance. In this case, MSFT is offering money to help solve the problem. They deserve kudos, not punishment, since they could alternatively be lobbying/strongarming the relev

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:01PM (#27202083)
    How much does Microsoft pay in local property taxes? I would hope they have paid in a lot more than the cost of this project. Local governments are almost always willing to make concessions to businesses that make up a large part of their tax base by contributing to property taxes, state income taxes (by providing jobs), and sales taxes (which Microsoft pays very little of, not being a retail business). I would expect them to do similar improvements for a shopping mall, why not a tech firm? If the local government is giving them a free ride on property taxes AND subsidizing this improvement, then yes, local taxpayers have a right to be pissed off. But since a good number of people in Redmond owe their livelihood to M$ either directly or indirectly, I'd expect most of the taxpayers to keep their mouths shut. Plus, doesn't this overpass benefit everybody by keeping some cars off of the main highway?
  • How about putting that money into improving the deplorable roads of Seattle proper. Despite not using salt come snowy conditions, the roads and especially the highways are full of pot holes. No wonder why everyone actually drives speed limits here, if you go faster parts of your car will start falling off.
  • I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy - but last time I checked, the folks working at Microsoft were taxpayers too, and so deserve to benefit from federal spending related to infrastructure.

    I am NOT a fan of the stimulus package as passed. I am in favor of the concept (I lean Keynesian, not Austrian School); but it seems to me a very large chunk of this smells more like opportunistic pork-barrel politics. To pick an example: Funding for diabetes education. I think as part of the normal federal budget thi

  • by taustin (171655) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:21PM (#27202271) Homepage Journal

    Were this any lesser company, 100% of the cost would be paid for by tax dollars. That Microsoft is contributing half is either a sginficant act of generosity on their part, or a major triumph of democracy over corporate greed and corruption. Either way, it's a victory for taxpayers.

    It was a similar situation when Disneyland wanted their own exit on the I-5 in Anaheim. There were significant reasons from the taxpayers point of view to do this - it greatly improved traffic in that section of the freeway, and throughout that part of Anaheim - but Disney still ended up paying for a significant portion of the cost. (In their case, it was a damned good investment in their wholly owned subsidiary, the city of Anaheim.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816)

      Were this any lesser company, 100% of the cost would be paid for by tax dollars.

      Really? The little fact that the bridge goes between two parts of a private facility wouldn't be an issue?

      It was a similar situation when Disneyland wanted their own exit on the I-5 in Anaheim.

      There may have been a similar level of screaming about private entities benefiting from public money, but it's hardly a comparable project. A freeway offramp is part of the public infrastructure. A bridge connecting two pieces of private property is not.

      Mind you, I'm not saying this bridge is a bad idea. It makes sense if building it eases traffic congestion more than spending the same amount of money

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by taustin (171655)

        In point of fact, it is very clear that this bridge will, in fact, be a public road, open to anyone who wishes to use it. And even if no one ever uses who is not a Microsoft employee, it will draw traffic away from other, apparently crowded, roads to use this on instead. That is a direct public benefit to everyone in the area, in the form of reduced congestion on roads around a major employer in the area.

        So, your first qustion is irrelevant, since it is based on factually incorrect assumptions. And it is co

  • by deanston (1252868) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:37PM (#27202433)
    Real FOSS nerds would just build a catapult, a flying car, or teleporter to get across. Green engineers would have demanded that 2 UNDER-passes be built, one for humans to bicycle across, and another for critters that live in the woods to have corridors connecting their shrinking landscape. Apple or Google would plan on building light rails or trams that will eventually connect all their campuses and stores. IBM would just hire only illegal Mexican workers skilled at running across highways. Obviously Seattle isn't the most innovative regional planners they purport to be. Wimps.
  • by Jbain (1453725)
    ... and let me tell you, this will help more than just MS. The freeways and roads in the area are actually surprisingly limited. During rush hour you can expect 3mi+ backups just to get off the freeway. The current on-ramps and overpasses for 520(which is the freeway i'm assuming this will go over) are also pretty limited. Just getting from one side to the other is a pain in the butt, and a lot of that traffic is just MS workers or their shuttles going between buildings. If all of the inter-MS traffic can
  • How come nobody's complaining about this [playmobilusa.com]?

  • Eyewitness report (Score:2, Informative)

    by evilsofa (947078)
    I live a block down the road from the Microsoft Redmond campus (it used to be 12 blocks, but they metatasized), so I walk by all this each day. But I don't work at Microsoft, so all I have is just sidewalk testimony.

    The older Microsoft campus was confined to the east side of highway 520, with dozens and dozens of properties rented and scattered all over Redmond, Bellevue, and other places in the area. Lately they have been building an absolutely HUGE property just across the highway from the old campus
  • What annoys me.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:47PM (#27203133) Homepage
    How is it MS needs to lay-off employees but can throw 36.5 million on this?

    The state should not give tax payer money to a monopolistic company damaging the local economy by laying off people when clearly they didn't financially need to.
  • Would a Microsoft Bridge be a complete waste of taxpayer money? No. Are there other projects that would be more beneficial to the public? Yes.
  • by CokoBWare (584686) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:45PM (#27203769)
    If you lived in Redmond, WA, you'd know why the article's author is full of shit. Try commuting from main campus, and with a company that has had significant expansion over the last few years, commutes are painful, streets are crowded, and traffic is always challenged either with going to or coming from work. There are traffic studies done ALL THE TIME in Redmond, and if you only felt the pain of the congestion in this small town, you'd know that MS didn't have to offer to pay for anything for this bridge, but they are.
  • TFA Misleadery (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quothz (683368) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:37PM (#27204223) Journal
    While Obama's stimulus program is, it seems, gonna help fund this overpass (which is fine with me), note that this project was agreed on almost two years ago. Originally, MS was gonna eat 70% of the cost.

    However, a revised estimate of the cost was somewhat higher than expected. The City of Redmond (not MS) decided to ask for stimulus money to offset this. After some initial talks, Redmond chose not to ask Microsoft for additional funding until they had pursued federal funds, which were assigned. (Redmond did not make up the difference itself because it cannot afford it.)

    This is not a case of MS pushing Congress into funding their campus development. This is a case of Redmond deciding the project costs were a good investment for the city, and asking for stimulus money to make up a shortfall.

    Note also that MS is expanding its campus in a huge project. The overpass is a small, small portion of what the company will ultimately spend. This is good for Redmond's economy, and the city wants to encourage the expansion.

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