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Microsoft Government The Almighty Buck News

"Bridge To Microsoft" Gets Federal Stimulus Funds 343

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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  • Keynesian Economics (Score:1, Interesting)

    by qbzzt ( 11136 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @03:59PM (#27202059)

    What do you mean Keynesian economics doesn't work? It kept FDR in power, didn't it? It justified a huge increase in government power, didn't it?

    Keynesian economics are only a failure if you care about actual prosperity instead of duping people into letting you run the country.

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

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:14PM (#27202207) Journal

    Connecting two parts of the company campus? The company should pay for it.

    If I understood correctly, it connects two parts of the city. It so happens that each has one part of MS campus in it, so MS will benefit greatly, but they're not the only one to do so (and of course, as TFA says, they do pay for it, just not for all of it).

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:25PM (#27202327)

    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:so? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:31PM (#27202365)

    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 since sometime in the mid 80s, or at least that's when I first remember it, probably was broken before that.

  • Re:so? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:45PM (#27202491)

    The same reason you don't pay for public roads outside of your house; Because it's one of the things you pay taxes for.

    Even if the little stretch of road leading up to your property only benefits you and other nearby residents, a fully comprehensive road system that the public can use benefits everyone hugely.

    It's better that government try to provide public access to private properties and to design road systems to cope with the traffic they generate than to have a vast network of private roads which may or may not allow public access.

    In this case you're talking about 5000 people who won't be clogging up the current road every morning but there will also be other people who will save time using the bypass as they won't have to use the other busier road and their destination may be close to that office. If it was a Microsoft only road which they paid for, these people wouldn't get that benefit and the road network would suffer.

  • Re:so? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @04:51PM (#27202549) Homepage

    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.

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:15PM (#27202767) Journal

    Yes. Relieving the middle class of their cash through inflation and interest, and placing that cash in the pockets of rich bankers does have benefits. For the bankers.

    No, actually cutting taxes is what makes the rich, richer, while the middle-class and poor (who pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes) get poorer.

    Meanwhile, spending money on shared public projects (roads, schools, etc.) benefits us all equally, and the rich pay a higher proportion of the costs.

    All the problems we're facing, which you've listed, were NOT caused by Keynesian economics. They were caused by neocon pseduo-economics (you'll note that Republicans never have actual, accredited economists in their staff). They were caused in no small part by Clinton and Bush's tax cuts on the wealthiest 1% of Americans, and dumping money into the stock market, rather than actual public projects.

  • Re:so? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:30PM (#27202939) Homepage Journal

    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 weeks before some guys can step out of the unemployment lines and put on their hard hats.

    To put this another way: the stimulus dollars will work best when they are used for "shovel ready" projects. And anyone who has hung around slashdot for a couple of weeks or more knows that there is no corporation that is as ready to shovel it around as Microsoft.

    I think this may well be a good project. Provided that it will still retain some value after Microsoft goes tits up.

    Microsoft is not going to survive this financial winter in its current form: its skills are all about identifying the next big wave and fighting for the best spot to surf it. That has sometimes involved tipping better surfers off their boards when they get in its way. But those skills do not translate well to the new economy, where the ability to paddle your kayak through an Eskimo roll in freezing waters is a better image for what the successful company needs to know. Redmond needs to ask whether the value of the overpass is going to be worth its half of the investment if Microsoft is no longer as big a part of its tax base three years from now.

    I would expect that the project will have some long term benefits, but probably much less than most of the good people of Redmond had hoped for.

  • Re:so? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @05:53PM (#27203185)

    Nothing about the stimulus package is normal, however one of the goals was to be able to provide funds to local municipalities to fund public works, such as road construction, that had existing plans and could be started within the short term. This overpass plan fits very nicely into that goal.

    It was planned in 2006 by Redmond and Microsoft voluntarily put forth 50%. By late 2008 it was realized that the original estimates weren't enough and that Redmond at the time could not afford to go forward with the plan. Redmond put the plan on hold and considered asking Microsoft to front more of the cost but instead decided to seek the funds from the Stimulus package.

    You can argue that the use of Federal monies derived from income tax is not proper for road construction, but that is the very purpose of the stimulus bill. However, most people, especially here, are going to bitch about the fact that the overpass is in Redmond near Microsoft because it's an easy target.

  • Re:so? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linhux ( 104645 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:21PM (#27204097) Homepage

    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: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: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:so? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:31PM (#27205245)

    It's even worse. Microsoft has a shell organization in Nevada. So all of Microsoft's products are developed and created in Seattle and then they 'sell' Windows through Nevada so that they don't have to pay Washington State for any of their income tax.

    Meanwhile we have a bridge (520) which is unable to keep up with Microsoft commuters every morning that needs a multi billion dollar investment to reduce traffic.

    All in all I would say Microsoft is a net force of good in the local economy and they probably give more than they take, but it would certainly be a little less repulsive if Microsoft actually had to pay a little of their way like the rest of us. Once again: if you're rich you get a free pass while the small businesses have to pick up the slack.

    On the other hand. If the money is being passed out evenly across the country. And this community thinks this is what is best for their community then by all means go for it. Microsoft Employees probably do pay their fair share in taxes since most make above the median income and probably are in a higher tax bracket. If your entire town is based around a Microsoft Economy, it would be silly to repair the bridge to home depot.

  • Re:so? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruisin ... om ['yah' in gap> on Monday March 16, 2009 @02:24AM (#27207189) Homepage Journal

    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 parts of campus, it would significantly relieve congestion in the area if the freeway overpass could be used for its intended purpose (handling people getting on/off the freeway), while MS employees and others who work in the area could take the direct bridge instead.

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