The Talking Lion

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Black Ice Highway

So, Congress passed a lot of legislation in the last couple days before the August recess. Some bills were more controversial than others. Possibly the least controversial bill was the transportation bill, which was approved 412 to 8 by the House, and 91 to 4 by the Senate. But something's not right here...

Reading the Washington Post story about the bill revealed to me some interesting details concerning the bill. Consider, for example, that "California, Illinois and New York received the largest sums, with Alaska ranking fourth."

Alaska is fourth? Out of the 50 states Alaska gets fourth-largest sum of money. How much money you ask? $941 million for 119 special projects. This seems kind of excessive, especially considering the fact that only 112 people actually live in Alaska. So why did they get all this money when there are other states with many more people who have more of a need for the transportation money? Do I smell pork?

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Don Young a Republican from, you guessed it, Alaska. Here's some of the stuff that Don Young is spending American tax dollars on, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense who actually read these bills and let people know what is really in them:

The group found that Young helped to secure $231 million for a bridge in Anchorage to be named Don Young's Way; $223 million for a bridge to Ketchikan; and $15 million for a Juneau access road, dubbed the Black Ice Highway by group analyst Erich Zimmermann because "that's all you'll see in the winter if this project is built."

So, that's great that he set aside all that money to build a highway in honor of himself. And an access road in Juneau is a great idea because I know the traffic in Juneau has been hell for the past few years, like totally a million times worse than I-66 outside of DC. Totally. As far as Ketchikan goes, I don't even know where the fuck that is. So I looked it up.

Here is the official website of the "city" of Ketchikan, where is a balmy 53 degrees on this summer evening. I also found this website, which has a picture of a native Ketchikanian wearing a funny hat. It also has some more information about the "city."

Ketchikan is known throughout Alaska as a friendly, hard-working town. Tucked into the mountains, and spilling down to the shores of the Inside Passage, this regional hub of 15,000, makes its living from the surrounding forest, from the abundant fish runs, from the thousands of visitors that flock north each year, and other entrepreneurial ventures.

The first Alaska port of call for northbound cruise ships, commercial vessels and state ferries, Ketchikan is 680 air miles north of Seattle and is located in the nation's largest national forest, the Tongass, which totals 17 million acres.

So 15,000 people live there. And it's in the middle of a forest. There are more students currently attending the University of Virginia than there are citizens of Ketchikan. Why the fuck is the government spending my money there? Is it because of the "thousands of visitors" that flock north there" each year? How about the places that have millions of people who actually live there and need to get around.

What other states were able to get a lot of money through this bill? Well,

Next were Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma -- the latter being the home state of Sen. James M. Inhofe (R), the bill's chief Senate negotiator.

Fantastic. And every Democrat voted for this bill. Some may argue that pork is just a part of politics and you have to just grin and bear it and move on. But I think this shit is disgusting and someone should say something about it. I give mad props to John McCain who actually spoke out against the bill on the Senate floor.

Four Senate Republicans voted against the bill, including John McCain (Ariz.), who decried the thousands of special projects for targeted districts. "I wonder what it's going take to make the case for fiscal sanity here?" he asked his colleagues.

No one is in favor of wasteful spending. Not even liberals. No one, that is, except for a few hundred Congressmen...


  • Sean, you just don't see the political ramifications of this move. EVERYONE knows Ketchikanians are the NASCAR Dads of 2005. Its an oft-repeated line amongst Beltway insiders that "As go quasi-Canadian island-villages, so goes America". Don Young's just capitalizing on this voting bloc, and I don't blame him for it.


    By Anonymous Eric Cunningham, at Sunday, 31 July, 2005  

  • good use of bold - it really brings out the letters of the words you type

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, 02 August, 2005  


    I think this is one of the more amusing parts of the transportation bill.

    By Anonymous Clare, at Wednesday, 03 August, 2005  

  • Amusing and also depressing at the same time. I like to call it "demusing"

    By Blogger Sean, at Friday, 05 August, 2005  

  • Perhaps before you begin spouting off about places and things you do not know anything about you should do a little more research. Alaska is the largest state in the nation and gives the nation a HUGE sum of money thru oil revenues. Ketchikan is a dying city unless some of the money that their taxpayers have paid comes back to them!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, 27 September, 2005  

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