The Washington Post has an in-depth piece today about a boondoggle of a USDA program to create jobs in rural America. Read the whole thing; here are some North Carolina highlights:
More than three decades after the loan program was created, USDA officials still don't know whether it works. Funds have gone to firms that have hired foreign workers instead of Americans. Millions more have gone to failing and bankrupt businesses. Most of the jobs are not new. Many are low-tech and low-wage.
In addition to the loan program, the USDA has handed out almost half a billion dollars in rural development grants to businesses and nonprofits since 2001.
Loan guarantees or grants have gone to a car wash in Milford, Del.; a country club in Great Falls, Mont.; a movie theater in Smithfield, N.C.; a water park in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; an alligator hunter in Dade City, Fla.; snowmobile clubs in Maine; and dozens of gas stations and convenience stores in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
"You know, some people could argue a job at minimum wage is better than no job at all," said William Hagy, the USDA's deputy administrator for business programs. "In a lot of rural areas, that's all there are."
More about the Smithfield movie theater to follow: