By David Anderson
What does the Point Defiance Rail Bypass Project – that would reroute Amtrak passenger trains away from the scenic Puget Sound waterfront to a heavily life-congested path through Tillicum and other communities along I-5, seven daily round trips at 79 mph and 45 seconds per intersection – have in common with the following?
Slugs, squirrels, pine cones, frogs, toads, turtles, salamanders, snakes; obese lesbians; snail sex; unused IRS technological toys; IRS’ notorious Star Trek training video that cost $60,000 to produce; the IRS period; “sending a spaceship to another galaxy” while shelling out “$1.5 million to cook up a new type of beef jerky”; building government housing in the Arizona desert at six times the going rate; “overpriced ferries that list, cracked bridge pontoons”; a “$423,500 stimulus program on ‘correct condom use’ (that) yields zero jobs”; a gopher-tortoise survey(‘Say, Mr. Tortoise, do you like being best known as a reptile, turtle, or gopher? Do you prefer munching on broad-leaf grass over regular grass?’); studies of duck genitals and robotic squirrels; $100 million for “a robotic spaceship to lasso a small asteroid and park it near the moon for astronauts to explore”; millions of dollars government spends for reports obtainable online for free; the “new ‘The Cook It Safe’ campaign the USDA is running (of) a series of mind numbingly stupid TV commercials trying to teach college students to use a microwave properly”; “wind turbines (that) are better at killing birds and bats than producing power” much less jobs; $50 million for new uniforms to outfit the Transportation Security Administration; $1 billion in development that can’t be accounted for in the District of Columbia; $45 million for toilets in National Parks; “8 billion dollars a year maintaining empty (government) buildings”; “$419 million in improper travel reimbursements last year” within the Pentagon alone; and a partridge in a pear tree?
Comparing apples to oranges? Heck, we’re talking the whole orchard – fruit and nuts, nuts and bolts, soup to nuts, ab ovo usque ad mala – “from the egg to the apples.”
It’s all nuts.
While the examples here listed are dissimilar in that not all carry passengers, they are alike in that all carry astronomically – and gastronomically – high price stickers for low priority projects sucking tax payer dollars at high speed.
“This is what happens when politicians insist that something big must be done, even if they’re not sure what that something should be,” the World Net Daily (WND) opined this last April in a column entitled “833 Billion Down the Drain.”
Like a never ending roll of toilet paper the “longstanding liberal wish list” begins in the WND piece with the toilet pit upgrades as if epitomizing “how federal government flushed away stimulus.”
Happily spinning off their share of the roll and side-tracking millions of dollars of Washington State-routed federal stimulus money to whistle down the track and past decrepit bridges – “more than a third having exceeded their design life” earning our state a C- according to the American Society of Civil Engineers as reported by Johnston – ‘A’ for Amtrak goes rumbling by those crumbling spans.
When 67,000 cars and trucks were re-routed following the collapse of the four-lane I-5 connection spanning the Skagit River this past May, David Cay Johnston in The Daily Beast called the disaster north of Seattle a reflection of “the dire state of our bridges and highways.”
The New York Times declared the “Washington State bridge collapse highlights infrastructure needs.”
Former governor Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, together with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, issued a statement characterizing the bridge collapse as a “call to action.”
“The collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington State is a timely reminder of our nation’s need to invest in critical infrastructure upgrades,” Mr. Rendell said. “Our nation’s bridges, roads and highways are deteriorating before our eyes.”
But for all the dubious attention our state has garnered – having grabbed headlines across the country – we seem not to have heard the hue-and-cry for the rumble of the train.
Failing thoroughfares and clogged economic life-lines, desperately in need of radical replacement surgery, await a donor with political wherewithal to call Amtrak for what it is: a costly cosmetic.
“They lack courage,” said Senator Tom Coburn of career politicians.
Coburn was being interviewed for the program “On the Record” for Fox News hosted by Greta Van Susteren.
Van Susteren responds: “Well, how come nothing happens? Because you and I have had this conversations a number of times. You wrote a book about it. I’ve talked with other U.S. senators. Everyone says it’s just terrible, the amount of waste, it’s just horrible, and duplicate programs and everything, but nothing ever gets done. We have the same conversation over and over.”
Coburn: “The typical career politician is wary, to say the least, to offend somebody by taking away something that’s absolutely stupid, wasteful and not a priority.”
Van Susteren: “But when everyone knows it’s unbelievable waste — it’s, like, nobody — no one in Washington here seems to have, you know, a mission or a desire or a personal conviction that we ought to get our finances in order.”
Despite the fact that high speed rail fails to deliver – $40 billion and counting since it left the station in 1971 – thosein charge of spending other people’s money for these projects appear not to have grown up as children during the“clean-your-plate” generation. Rather, depending on daddy to foot the bill, “half-eaten fries, drinks, and shakes” were wasted all while the little waifs wailed – in tantrum decibels – insisting upon having that plastic toy.
And now that they’re grown up and are in government they “spend with impunity.”
Is it any coincidence that most every film title incorporating “Soup to Nuts” is a comedy starring the likes of Laurel and Hardy; the Three Stooges; and the Looney Tunes’ Daffy Duck and Porky Pig?”
But dare suggest that it’s so much political pork, or that government is living beyond its means, and watch what will happen writes Ken Hoagland in a column this past March in The Washington Times.
“White House tours will be stopped, national parks will open late, air traffic will be delayed, teachers will be fired, needed research will be curtailed and illegal immigrants will be released. When citizens started asking how much the president’s golf trips cost, the White House tours started up again.”
Speaking of pork, when you are able to spend other people’s money, there’s always talking points to sell to the bacon-loving public, and to hear the sizzle from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) kitchen there’s a Point Defiance Rail Bypass workshop for those Lakewood properties adjacent to the railroad tracks from the City’s northerly City limits to 108th Street SW.
According to the City of Lakewood’s website, the workshop is scheduled for August 21, 2013, beginning at 6:30 PM, at Lakewood City Hall City Council Chambers, 6000 Main Street SW. Additional workshops will be conducted along other segments of the railroad line.
Wish that were all folks.