Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The word boondoggle was recently brought to my attention after residing sleepily in that part of my brain reserved for little-used vocabularly - by a commentator on a local new site who stated that the countywide transit plan in Washtenaw was the "biggest boondoggle in the history of the nation."

Wow! Do we get a medal for that? It sounded like quite a distinction. Having trouble summoning the mental dregs that would give me a precise definition, I turned to our good friend Wikipedia:

"A boondoggle is a project that is considered a useless waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy motivations."

I considered posting that maybe, you know, the Vietnam War was a slightly larger national boondoggle than the transportation planifications of the fourth-largest county in Michigan - but my more prudent side prevailed.

File:37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg
Lyndon Boondoggle Johnson?

Since this word is so often applied to public transit projects, though, let's read on:

"The term arose from a 1935 New York Times report that more than $3 million had been spent on recreational activities for the jobless as part of the New Deal. Among these activities were crafts classes, where the production of "boon doggles," described in the article as various utilitarian "gadgets" made with cloth or leather, were taught."

It seems, then, that boondoggles have long been the exclusive property of the left. I'm down with that. There are worse ways to spend 3 million bucks than preventing some unemployed folks from losing their minds of boredom. And there are probably worse ways to spend a few thousand dollars than seeking solutions to inadequate transportation.

FDR, do you consider yourself a boondoggler?

(Also, I've become convinced by the absurdity of the trillion dollar coin that money means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The entire 9 PM Bursley-Baits bus heard my disbelief on this subject as my homeskillet tried to explain national monetary policy to me.)

So, friends, is it time to reclaim this ugly word and change the dynamics of power? Oh yeah. People, I am the most boondiggitydoggling of all the boondiddly bus-hugging hippies around, and those doggledog haters just gonna hate.

Who's with me?


(Apparently, this word is also another name for scoubidou, that art of tying knots to form some sort of bracelet or lanyard. I have participated in both kinds of boondoggle, and I can tell you, they have nothing in common. For one, I never held any meetings with stakeholders over the creation of a friendship bracelet - though perhaps that's where I went wrong.)

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