Pork for Alaska’s Airports

John Stossel’s ABC News piece last night contained some interesting nuggets, including this about proposed changes to the Ketchikan International Airport in Alaska:

    Years ago Congress gave money to the little tourist town of Ketchikan, with only 14,000 residents, for an airport on a nearby island. Ketchikan International has six to eight flights a day, and people get there by taking a short ferry ride — which they love. The scenic ride takes 500 air travelers a day to or from the airport in just seven minutes

    Alaska resident Mike Sallee likes the ferry ride. He said, “I think our existing ferry system is just dandy and it doesn’t cost $200 million.”

    The $200 million refers to the fact that Young recently persuaded legislators that Ketchikan needs a bridge to the airport. And Young doesn’t want just any bridge. He wants a $200 million bridge — one higher than the Brooklyn Bridge and almost as long as the Golden Gate. Some people here say, why not. They say the ferry schedule’s inconvenient, so why not spend everyone else’s tax dollars on us?

    “Whether it’s a bridge here or a new interstate connection in Dallas, it’s gonna be spent somewhere,” said one resident.

    Young used to complain when the Democrats wasted your money. But now that his party is in power, he’s pretty good at spending it too.

    “Don Young has turned into a tax-and-spend Republican. He wants you and me to pay for his bridges to nowhere,” said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense. His group even gave Young its Golden Fleece Award for wasteful spending.

    Young says the bridge is worth it because it would create jobs here. But that’s just politicians’ folly. Political spending doesn’t create jobs. It just robs Peter to pay Paul — takes jobs that would have been created by taxpayers if their money hadn’t been taken from them — and moves that money to where the politically connected live. In any case, a study paid for by Alaska found that once the construction jobs are gone, the bridge would create only 40 permanent jobs.

    “It would be cheaper just to write each person a check for $100,000 a year than to build this bridge to nowhere,” Ashdown said.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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