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Timothy L. O'Brien

Shake Shack Doesn’t Want Uncle Sam’s $10 Million After All

It’s a reminder that the federal government has done a poor job of planning and managing how crisis billions are being spent.

Take-out only now.

Take-out only now.

Photographer: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg

Social media perked up over the past few days on the news that a number of biggish, publicly traded restaurant chains managed to snare millions in government aid for small businesses that more modestly sized restaurants and vendors missed out on.

Public outrage about this dumpster fire is useful and welcome. It’s also occasionally been misplaced. But it’s founded on the all-too-obvious fact that the White House and Congress lined up $349 billion for entrepreneurs and unloaded that vast pile without properly planning or managing how they would dole it out — and apparently without prioritizing which businesses should receive it. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s team left banks in the dark about loan terms, business owners weren’t sure how best to apply for funds, the online application process was chaotic, more well-heeled businesses probably found their way to the front of the line, and there were strange regional disparities in funding (just look at this map).