Sunday, January 15, 2006

The other side of Porkbusters, the people who need pork

Here in Alaska the governor is discussing a PR campaign
would attempt to tell the rest of the US that Alaska is not just
a consumer of Federal money, and it would "tell Alaska's story":
(from a column by Beth Bragg)

The governor wants to "tell Alaska's story" to the Lower 48 so folks down there have a better idea of what it's like up here.

The goal is to end the ridicule we've been so good at inspiring lately, what with our bridges to you-know-where and our desire to drill for oil in a wildlife refuge.

The thinking goes like this: If we can educate the critics with pictures of a desolate ANWR and defuse the comedians with pictures of a serene and congenial Ted Stevens, then we can move on to our ultimate goal, which is building bridges to you-know-where and drilling for oil in a wildlife refuge.

Or as the Governor actually said:

"Alaska does not just take. We give, and we have the capacity to give much, much more -- if permitted to do so," Murkowski said in his State of the State Address last week.
On another page of the paper, the 'nobodies' who live at the end of the proposed Bridge to Nowhere are upset and think that $328 million
is not too much to pay to connect them to their airport. That money was
cut from the proposed projects, but given to Alaska to decide what to do
with it.

Now the 'Nobodies' have to convince the Alaska legislature to give them their

Bridge opponents within Alaska abound. However, many of Ketchikan's residents see the link to the sparsely populated Gravina Island as necessary to grow their economy and connect them to their airport.

The project has been on the back burner for 30 years, and they bristle at being the "nowhere" in that hated moniker now that there's a chance a bridge will finally be built.

So one person's pork is another person's vital bridge. I wouldn't be so quick
to ridicule the idea if the residents of the island were saying what alternatives
there are and how much they would cost. With only 13000 residents, $328 million
dollars works out to $25,000 per person. Maybe it would be cheaper to buy
1000 cars and park them on the other side of the channel and run a personnel
ferry to bring residents to their shared cars.

Or invest $100 million and use the proceeds to pay for a Car ferry, along with
a $1000/year inconvenience check. I think there are much cheaper alternatives,
to this bridge, and the people of Ketchican are not doing a very good sales job.
If people want their pork, they should be ready with some economic analysis to
show why spending the pork is cheaper or better somehow in the long run.

There are times that spending the big money is cheaper in the long run, when it's not
cheaper, then it's pork. In times like these, critical thinking and economic
analysis are some of the tools that will get us to a 'best' solution, and this needs
to be applied more and more, instead of hysteria and arm waving.


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