Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A tunnel too far?

Paul Krugman points out how a small-minded selfishness is crushing our economy, and diminishing the greatness of America. Governor Christie of N.J. isn't the only person he could have pointed to in this regard:

right now, by any rational calculation, would be an especially good time to improve
the nation’s infrastructure. We have the need: our roads, our rail lines, our
water and sewer systems are antiquated and increasingly inadequate. We have the
resources: a million-and-a-half construction workers are sitting idle, and
putting them to work would help the economy as a whole recover from its slump.
And the price is right: with interest rates on federal debt at near-record lows,
there has never been a better time to borrow for long-term investment.

But American politics these days is anything but rational. Republicans bitterly
opposed even the modest infrastructure spending contained in the Obama stimulus
plan. And, on Thursday, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, canceled
America’s most important current public works project, the long-planned and
much-needed second rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

It was a destructive and incredibly foolish decision on multiple levels. But it
shouldn’t have been all that surprising. We are no longer the nation that used
to amaze the world with its visionary projects. We have become, instead, a
nation whose politicians seem to compete over who can show the least vision, the
least concern about the future and the greatest willingness to pander to
short-term, narrow-minded selfishness.

So, about that tunnel: with almost 1,200 people per square mile, New Jersey is the
most densely populated state in America, more densely populated than any major
European nation. Add in the fact that many residents work in New York, and you
have a state that can’t function without adequate public transportation. There
just isn’t enough space for everyone to drive to work.

But right now there’s just one century-old rail tunnel linking New Jersey and New
York — and it’s running close to capacity. The need for another tunnel couldn’t
be more obvious.

So last year the project began. Of the $8.7 billion in planned funding, less than a
third was to come from the State of New Jersey; the rest would come, in roughly
equal amounts, from the independent Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
and from the federal government. Even if costs were to rise substantially, as
they often do on big projects, it was a very good deal for the state.

But Mr. Christie killed it anyway.

This is the dystopia towards which the nation slouches. The wealthy retreat into their gated estates, abandoning the rest of the country to slowly crumble. Why pay for a tunnel when you can take your helicopter? The problem we face is a cultural one: the sense of working together to make life better for us all is vanishing. Public schools need help? Why don't we lay off teachers, cut education budgets drastically, and use tax-dollars instead to give wealthy people vouchers to help them pay for private schools. We cannot rely on a handful of well-meaning philanthropists to solve all of our social problems. Government exists to do more than fund the military and prisons. Let's hope voters can remember that this November!

1 comment:

Theop77 said...

I see projects begging for completion everywhere I go. Morons like Gov. Christie should be thrown to the back of the unemployment line!