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02/18/2009

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Please note that the so-called Bridge to Nowhere did have a place to go. It just wasn't really economically viable. Yet, if the bridge had been built, the City of Ketchikan would have received an economic shot in the arm. It would have opened doors to development on Gravina Island for the citizens of Southeastern Alaska.

I don't defend Sen. Stevens' proposal to build this bridge. Yet, it would not have been the boondoggle that people make it out to be. Using this proposed project as a metaphor for bad government is misleading and a slap in the face of Ketchikan who, like many cities, has suffered economic setbacks over the past few years; but thank goodness for the tourist industry.

Just for the record, I am registered as an independent, although I vote mostly Democratic. I lived in Ketchikan in the 1960s and graduated from High School there.

What was the school mascot?

Dear Tom Brandt,

Please forgive my delayed response to your thoughtful comment. It's just that I'm not used to thoughtful comments, and it took me a moment to recover.

While I accept the premise that the Bridge to Nowhere would lead to economic development, and while I'm generally unfamiliar with the specific geography of the surrounding area, I'm reasonably comfortable asserting that the type of economic development likely in southeastern Alaska is not dependent on opening new lands -- which is basically what the bridge would do. It seems to me, space to expand is something Alaska has plenty of, even without $400 million bridges.

Even if, in fact, economic development would justify the bridge, I am unclear why the cost of the bridge can't be covered by Alaska, which is so fat with oil money that the state has no sales or income taxes and still manages to give billions of dollars every year back to its citizens.

There is, of course, the "fair share" argument to be made. That is, the argument that Alaskans pay plenty of federal tax and are due their fair share. That would be a good argument except that, according to the Taxpayer Foundation, Alaska already draws $1.84 in fed largess for each $1 it pays in federal taxes.

So, yeah: I'm pretty comfortable using the bridge to nowhere as an example of federal government waste, though I'm willing to let bygones be bygones. My point was not that the bridge was a waste; my point was that Rush Limbaugh seemed to think it had something to do with Democrats when, in fact, it was entirely a pork project of Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

Thank you for your thoughtful response, though. The regulars around here could learn a thing or two from you, and so could I.

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