Drowning? We’ll build you a bridge

Jacob Hacker has a great analogy for “the ownership society” in TNR:
The conservative response to rising insecurity is equivalent to tossing a lead weight to a drowning man on the assumption that, now, he will really have an incentive to swim.
It’s all about incentives, right?

From DC’s truth-stranger-than-fiction department, the new “highway bill” contains, of course, a record number of earmarks — since Congressmen, not planners, of course, know what’s best for America’s transportation needs. Riiiight. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) proudly says he “stuffed” TEA-LU — the “Legacy for Users” an excuse to put his wife’s name into his true pride and joy — “like a turkey,” particularly with one project so incredibly useless that its folly could only be paralleled in a land ruled by a feebleminded (if sharply dressed) despot:

$231 million for a bridge that will connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie, a rural area that has exactly one resident.

The same amount of cash invested in, say, the Mid-City Transitway could buy a transit line with 30,000 passengers a day. But… no. This is how the Republicans describe “smaller government.” Maybe I should write a check to the Alaskan Independence Party to help them secede from the Union and stop wasting our tax dollars.

Edit 18 August: Garrison Keillor writes in his syndicated column: “Had Minnesota voted Republican, as Alaska wisely did, we might have gotten a canal connecting the Mississippi to Lake Superior and a high-speed rail link between Bemidji and Roseau and maybe a 10,000-foot runway at the Waseca (pop. 8,389) International Airport.” He also suggests that English majors band together to demand $223 million libraries from the feds, “equipped with leather sofas and an espresso bar and librarians who are trained in pressure-point massage. Greek columns would be nice, and a pair of stone lions, and a rare book collection and a three-story lobby with marble floors so your footsteps echo as if you were in an Edith Wharton novel. And a statue of Minerva.”

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