Shoveling Money

ShovelThis week, President Obama signed (approved) a law that will spend $787,000,000,000.00 ($787 billion) to help the US economy.   The new law is being called a stimulus package.  A stimulus increases activity or causes a reaction or response in something (the plural is stimuli, which comes from the original Latin plural).   A package is a collection of things that are related, in this case, different ways of trying to boost (make stronger, increase) the economy.

Part of the money will be used to build roads, bridges, and other parts of the infrastructure of the country.  Infrastructure refers to the physical things that a society needs to operate – roads, bridges, power plants, harbors, and so forth.  The federal (national) government will give most of this money to the individual 50 states to spend on what are supposed to be “shovel-ready” projects.  To shovel means to take a tool (see the picture at right) and make a hole in the ground or build something.  Shovel-ready means that the project is all planned and ready to begin as soon as there is enough money for it.  The idea is that the government wants to spend the money quickly to help the economy right away, so it is asking states to spend the money as soon as possible on projects that are ready to begin.

Will the president’s plan work? I don’t know, but $787 billion will buy a lot of shovels.


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29 Responses to Shoveling Money

  1. Chanmonchannon says:

    Your explanation is excellent, really
    but I don’t know about the president’s plan.

  2. Chanmonchannon says:

    For me, Just want to say a big thank you, Jeff!

  3. Dante says:


    Does this amount means $787 billion or really $787 000 millions?
    I think a billion is a million of a million or 1 000 000 000 000.


  4. Agod says:

    In English a billion is one thousand millions, although in many other countries we say that a billion is a million of millions.
    Nice explanation, I love to learn new idioms.

  5. Vo Pham Ai Chau says:

    Thank for your information, all the explanation is easy to understand for us, English students.

  6. Roberto says:

    I believe that all the world is pretty excited about this package.
    The new American’s president has a lot of prestigios and has been living a kind of honey moon with everyone.
    Barack has a great speech about enviroment as well as social world problems.

    I do believe that Obama has a great opportunite to change the world!

    Good luck for us!

    Roberto Geronimo

  7. Thank you jeff for explanation. I also need a stimulus package like that. aren´t you ?

  8. Rodrigo says:

    Thanks for the explanation Jeff ,very clear as usual…

    By the way, I read in newspapers that California State has cash flow problems and the governor (The terminator) is asking help (bailout) from the Federal Government, as far as I know California is the richest state in USA and if it were an independent country would be the 8 or 9 economy in the world… how come?… Could you give us more explanations about this issue?

    Rodrigo from Venezuela

  9. emiliano says:

    Zapatero wants to do a similar shovel-redy projects in the little villages, towns, and all the big cities in order to stop the encrease of not working people. But here what Zapatero wants is that every place where a shovel shoud be done it is obliged to put a big advice, very big, in which it must write that this project is doing with the money
    of him, or Goverment, that is more or less the same.
    If not advise, not money, and sometime the cost of the advise should be more than the shovel what is very funny.

    Our Crisis can be measure by the spenses of our Politicians.
    In Galicia, a little country in the northwest of Spain, his socialist president has spent some money redecorating his office, and goverment’s building as follows;
    New furniture: Two millions of Euros (only each chair cost 2.200 euros)
    New car for him (the forth in four years): 440.000 euros ??? ..that’s real
    New mobiliary for his office: 240.000 euros (only the library cost 119.000), the table 35.000 euros and so on.

    Now there are elections in Galicia, and probably he should be alected again ??? Who can understand this??
    meanwhile there are people in his Galicia that has not enough to end each month……but we are inmune to the Crisis and we don’t mind what our politicians do
    along his command.

  10. emiliano says:

    Sorry, I have seen the news again and the cost of his office is “only” 200.000 euros, I want to be loyal to the truth, poor man.
    If he fail the elections, another politician may be dislike all the furniture and possibly wants to redecorate again everything, so… again more Euros…what a big nightmare.
    So may be I want him win again?……, I don’t.

  11. Rodrigo says:

    Well Emiliano that things not only occur in Spain,

    In Venezuela president Chavez has given free a lot of money to his political allies, namely Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina without any control and just to get support for his personal projects and without any benefit for our country despite the hugh problem we have here, and however he still popular, and last sunday won a referedum (54%) which allows to run for president for continuing elections, in addition this government which says to be socialist, high officials owned luxury cars (BMW, Audi, Mercedes and so forth) and live like kings while 70% of the population live in poor conditions and middle class is making ends meet, inflation rate was 31% in 2008, I can´t understand either….

  12. Jeff says:

    Re: Billion in English – Agod is correct: in English, a billion is 1,000 millions, but in most other countries it is a million millions. There a mathematical explanation here related to “short scale” versus “long scale” systems here:

    Rodrigo – It would take a long post to explain California’s budget problems. Our state has a lot of very rich people who pay a very high rate of tax, so when the economy is good, the state gets a lot of money. Because all politicians love to spend money, the state gets the money and increases the budget for lots of different departments. Of course, when times are bad, the state loses all that money, and has to cut spending. The income for the state, in other words, is very unstable from one year to the next because of the income tax system in California.

    Emiliano – Thank you for your note about the situation there in Spain. I share your concern about what projects are really “shovel-ready,” especially when politicians “shovel” that money into their own pockets! Unfortunately, some people in government take the opportunity to spend money in ways that are not going to help the economy, and that is certainly a danger for this stimulus package, too.


  13. Rodrigo says:

    Many thanks Jeff

  14. elcomandant says:

    Did you say $787,000,000.00 ($787 billions)? Really? Oh my God. I can’t believe it. I don’t think that can exist so much money in the world. It’s also true that more of fifty dollars is much money for me.

    Although this case don’t has nothing to do with the topic ‘shoveling money’ to help the economy of the U.S., it has to do with ‘much money’.

    In the year 2003, an forty-three years old man won the lottery nearly 10.000.000,00 €. (nearly $13 billions).

    He was a modest man who worked as a worker in the city hall of a little town where around two thousand people live there and it’s situated at the northwest of Spain.

    When he won this fortune, the happiness came at his home, although sadly just came the material happiness. According what I read at newspaper, the temper of this man was getting worse little by little, due to the fact that he had economic troubles.

    He started several business that he didn’t know how to run and nowadays had a farm machinery’s business which had temporary receivership since 2007.

    Six years later, in february of 2009, just a few days ago, this man appeared dead with a shot in your head. The police thinks he had commited suicide.

    He was married and he had wife and two daughters. The people of the little town where they lived still can’t understand what it happened, neither his death nor loss all of his money that gave him the lottery.

    It was a pity.


  15. emiliano says:

    Rodrigo, as you are living in Venezuela and sure are borned there I have to tell you that I am very concerned with all what is happening in your country. Probably you know that a lot of people from your country are living here in Spain, and I could see them in the news that they were voting about the referendum last sunday in Madrid.
    Apparently all of them wanted to say NO, (they were carring some advices about it) but the result has been YES after all.
    To me this is a big mistery, how such a country like yours, so marvellous, so rich, with so great persons, may vote this way to permit a man (no matter which man) to be elected continously so many times, for life?.
    You know that a spanish europarlament was expelled off from you country as he said the referendum wasn`t very clear……….and nobody say anything about all this matter?
    What kind of world are we living on?. where is democracy?….Justice?….rights of people?

    I have been in touch along years with many persons from your country and know a little about it, even my daughter who is living In Canarias Island knows a lot that have to go away from Venezuela because life is so hard.
    Also they say that violence, crime, robery has encrease too much. Is it true?. Please tell us what is your point of wiew about these matters.

    Thank you Rodrigo and of course thank you Jeff for the opportunity that you give us of explaining our concerns about personal wiews and opinions of what is happening at home.

  16. Françoise Dubé says:

    I come from Canada. This week, we had a great visitor. Your président. YES. M.Obama. He is a reel gentlemen and he is cool. Im positive about his administration

  17. Jose Maria, San Sebastian says:

    San Sebastian, Spain
    First of all, many thanks JEFF for to give us the possibility to read messages like this that are coming from El Comandante, Emiliano and Rodrigo.
    I, spanish, am quite agree with all this they are writting; and happy because so people can know our political reality.
    Kind regards.

  18. Fred says:

    t h a n k y o u v e r y m u c h

  19. Elisângelo says:

    wow! Guys, I’ve been following this track of the bailout in USA and I am really hopeful that the Obama’s administration can make a good work with it, cause is too much money even though they’ve been saying it might not be enough to fix the economic system. So I am really hopeful because it’s come out from here in USA, because if it was came from brasilian government …. my God it’ll be the bad news ever since the majority of the govern body is filth.

    I would be very hopeful about my own country if there were only people like president LULA, ex JOSÉ SARNEY, ex JUSCELINO KUBTSCHECK and etc., but they aren’t. So I wish good luck to the Obama’s administration in pull off all of this and keep the bad politicians and people faraways from this stimulus package.

    and with someone try to take advantage from a dime from this bailout, I hope they get rid of with anyone else.

    uh! jeff; that`s why I really like your speeches….rsrsrsrsr. How do you come up to us and say that 787 billions would buy a lots of shovel….kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!

    jeff! come on…………….., I would say that it`ll be so many shovels that the entire planet earth might not be enough to room all of it!

    I love your jokes and good mood, jeff.

    my best regards to all of you whom make this blog richer,

  20. Nancy says:

    787 billion thanks to you dear Jeff.
    Nancy from Syria but now in the United States.

  21. Bruce Lee says:

    In Korea, there’s also serious recession due to US housing crisis & internal problem.
    So our president, Mr. MB Lee, also come up with the stimulus plan that is similar with US’s plan.
    One of the main plan is to build the great canal from Busan, where is at the end of Southern Korea to Seoul.
    But it can’t pass throgh the National Assembly because our opposite party & a lot of environmentalist strongly oppose it.
    The opposing party strongly claimed that this project can’t creat the profit and stimulate the economy.
    It might be right because the government also has to invest money into the high tech industry like IT & BT.
    But the invest into construction industry is helpful for the economy.
    So they should have pushed the bill even though there is protests from the opposing party.

  22. Julio says:

    Certainly, Jeff, to achieve a real comprehension about that considerable amount of money, it is better, as you have done, to show by writting the real figure, up to getting at the dollars and cents. I think is the best way for everyone can understand it. The figure is amazing, as the American Economy is really, and if those resources are well managed by honest people, whom regard as their main guide the greatest performance and efficiency, in terms of jobs and businesses, on the expenditures, the results will be able to become very impressive.
    In any case, sooner or later I am sure we are going to leave this situation.
    Thank you, Dr. Jeff.
    Best regards,
    Julio, Spain.

  23. RAUL says:

    Tampico City Mexico
    I think that the president did the right thing because the economy will be activated and so the people of the United States will be helped. In every country when there is an economic problem the president and the senate are the ones who have to help the country by trying to find a good method to help the economy and the people of their country. A similar case happened in Mexico when the president was Mr Cedillo. The United States will reactivate the economy because it is a country of hardworking people. And JEFF your explanation was very good. Congratulations for all the things that you do, I listened to your podcasts number 454 and I paid a lof of attention to your pronunciation as a native speed and let me tell you the way you did it is incredible, your intonation, your diction, your blending is something that I am going to take as a model.

  24. FCO JAVIER says:

    Hi from Almería, south of Spain, we have another Chaves for more than 20 years and never change, because he gives money to everybody who never work. But the problem is not the politicians the problem is the system, today one group of opinion stole money from the people and tomorrow the others… the problem are the professionals politicians, if this people need to get their money from their jobs things would change.
    Many Thanks and congratulations to Penelope

  25. emiliano says:

    As everybody knows economic problems are general all over the world. something is changing and it is sure many things should be differents in few years. People like
    me are worried about their public pensions, but the situation of youngers is even worst because they don’t know what is going to happen with their jobs or their children.
    Also what rights have to be lost by workers in order to mantain their works and salaries.

    But we need to be optimist and do think that the world has changed already from what it was on the twenties, all is going faster and it is sure we’ll find another way of doing things better than before.

    In the last century the way of amended things was a war, but now we have seen that way is such a big mistake and people in general are better informed than ever.
    This way of talking, as we do in the blog, people from all nations with different lenguages and religions is a hope of not doing same mistakes once and again.

    Fco. Javier welcome to the circle, little by little a lot of spaniards and latinos (Jose maria, julio, elcomadant, rodrigo, roberto..and much more) are meeting here, and of course I agree with you completely and it is just what you say the big problem that our marvellous Andalucia has.
    You know that politicians want always to be reelected by people, and they don’t take an unpopular rule never because it shoul be the end of their command.
    So for our Andalucia I don’t see any solution in future.
    In fact there should be necessary to limit the period of time that a politician can be elected, being the same that other countries do as EE.UU. for instance.

    Congratulations to Penelope, she has done a great work and yesterday night I was so happy when she grasped the Oscar being so emotioned.
    To all people from India, congratulations too, their film was incredible and it has been made with 15 millions only. I love it.

  26. Rodrigo says:

    To EmilIano

    Thanks for yr concern, and sorry for my late reply I had ploblems with my internet conection.

    That’s a mistery for me and many people too, I’m not a social scientist but my humble opinion is that Mr.Chavez is what we called “Caudillo”, a leader for the poor people many of them still have hope that things can change, and Chavez knowing very well this situation has created false hopes with social programs that don´t solve the real problems of our country but for these people who never had gotten anything it’s something (demagogia), the high price of oil helped a lot, but we have to wait because we started facing a “skinny cow” period and the situation can change in the coming months, currently the financial crisis has not impacted in Venezuela as much as Europe, Asian or the States but we have to wait.

    In fact let me tell you that Chavez is not a cause of the problem, he is the consequence of near 40 years of bad politicians and bad public policies and a lot of corruption, and those politicians are now in the opposition movements, and this is another reason why Chavez is still in office and can be re-elected while the opposition be the same….

    Interested to know what Francisco Javier said about Andalucía, because it seems they have the same problem there.

    In Venezuela we say each people have the government they deserve, people voted for Chavez so we have the bear him…

    Congratulations for Penelope, it´s a triumph for all “hispano parlantes” FELICIDADES¡¡¡

  27. emiliano says:

    Thank you Rodrigo, I think you have explained the situation quite well and is easy to understand that poor people that have nothing need to have faith in a caudillo, who can do the miracle of changing their situation or at less given them the necessary to survive. But in fact nothing is real and they are manipulated in a different way that they were before.
    Yes, I know about the great corruption of politicians in Venezuela along years, and one of the last presidents Carlos Andres Perez who has some problems about it, and with the law, was close friend of Mr. Felipe Gonzalez our former socilialist president who has also many problems in his goverment about corruption and other bad things.
    In Andalucia there are lot of people that along hundred of years has not land to cultivated, and they have to serve the rich who has huge extension of land, power, and nearly everything. So now there is a great resentement against the rich or the power represented by the church or the right ideas.
    Thousands of persons have to live working the fields by seasons, and if there is not work out of recolection time they have to live with subventions of the state or the Regional Govermentl. So is nearly imposible that they vote to politicians they think are the powerful, or the right, so socialist always win all elections along years.
    More or less socialists win in the little villages or the country, and the right win in the big cities where thera are other kind of works.
    If a land has been humilliated by the poweful along hundred of years it is very difficult that the people that inhabit it may forget so soon as 35 years of democracy.

    There is a very good book tittle “El Laberinto Español” written by and english-spanish author “Gerald Brenan” where he explain all this evens very well, also the reasons
    that why the spanish societe is so complicated. He lives in Spain many years and I think is one of the best books written about the so complicated spanish recent history and the civil war.

    Sorry, I write too much.

  28. emiliano says:

    To all that may be interested in the book I have mentioned before here is a little explanation about it:

    the Spanish Labyrinth (full title: The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War) by Gerald Brenan, is a classic account of Spain’s social, economic and political history as a background to the Spanish Civil War.

    First published in 1943, it has since then run to several reprints and is, together with works by noted hispanists such as Paul Preston, Raymond Carr and Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Labyrinth is background reading for studies of Spain and its history.

    The 1993 edition has an extensive foreword by Raymond Carr stating that the book was acclaimed “as one of the most brilliant political and social studies in many years” by the Chicago Sunday Tribune, and “the essence of Spain” by the Manchester Guardian. Carr himself called the book “a revelation to my generation” and went on to add “What is remarkable about Brenan’s account of the Second Republic of 1931-6” is the fairness that has enabled it to stand the test of time… his account stands out as surprisingly impartial.”

    To me the book was very interesting and give me a sigh of what is the recent and not so recent history of my country, also explained what is happening just now.

  29. Eberhard says:

    Also the German government spends a lot of billions of Euro for the economy. I wonder if it will work (all over the world). But “billion” is not the same: What America calls a billion is 1,000,000,000. This is in Germany “Milliarde”. In Germany a Billion is 1,000,000,000,000. Complicated, is’nt it?


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