Thursday, November 10, 2005

JONI BALTER: MISSING THE POINT AS USUAL

VOTERS JUST SAID NO TO "NO"

Bloviator extraordinaire Joni Balter of The Seattle Times offers an explanation of the failure of I-912:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2002614443_joni10.html

Crouching her analysis in the vernacular of the [strong-arm liberal] "Progressive" Joni B opines the failure of I-912 is "the sound of change whistling through Washington politics..." away from "the anti-government, anti-community principle..."

She goes on to take a few shots at her perennial political foes as she makes her case, which overall merits Ken Shram's "pony in a pile of manure" designation in spades.

You have to look hard to find the pony, but it's there: I-912 was "a plan to do nothing."

A lot has been written in the aftermath of 9-11 about the attitudinal changes of Americans the attack fostered. I think most of those changes can be summed up simply:

Americans have had a gutfull of "NO."

Political analysts across the spectrum were flummoxed by the outcome of the 2004 general election. Conventional wisdom suggested GWB was weak on many fronts, but he beat the odds.

Why? All the opposition offered was "NO." Vote for me, I'm not him...

Hard work and geopolitical good fortune left this Nation second to none by the middle of the 20th century. Since then, in many ways "we" have become our own worst enemies, dividing ourselves for reasons sometimes grand and sometimes petty. "NO!" became a powerful tool.

Want to build an oil refinery or nuclear plant? Not in my back yard!

Legislative action "peeves" you? Drag it into Court. Time is money and actual victory can be had by delay even if you finally lose.

I recall a quip I once read on a bulletin board in the Swan Island [Oregon] Naval shipyard: "There comes a time in the life of any project when it is necessary to shoot the engineers and begin the work."

I think Americans are coming to realize that endless debate is paralyzing and that even if we stand still the rest of the world moves on. If we don't command our future it will be commanded for us.

That's why the Democrats got creamed in 2004. They offered no better alternative to the policies of those they opposed. Today, as those policies falter due to their own flaws, intransigence is costing the Republicans dear.

Republican or Democrat, "NO" isn't a policy. It's just a mule kicking down the barn, and a mule has no future.

Washington's voters cherish the Initiative process and have oft used it well. Furthermore, the aftermath of the 2004 gubernatorial election demonstrated the weakness of "Queen Christine" and her faction. The transportation plan she championed was ovbiously unpopular, as the 412,000 signatures I-912 garnered demonstrated. Ultimately it failed because all it offered was another year lost coping with the inevitable.

I-912 would have passed handily if it had said more than "NO."

Comments:
Unfortunately, the state law makes it illegal for 912 to have offered an alternative to the black hole that is current transportation policy. History proves that a small percentage of people will ever leave their cars for mass transit. Spending the majority of the budget on mass transit, while ignoring the realities of people's driving habits is idiocy. I'm not saying abandon mass transit. What I'm saying is that high expense, low ridership forms of mass transit need to go. What happens to rail lines in an earthquake? They twist and deform, and thereby make evacuation by rail an impossibility. If there are any lessons to be learned from Katrina and Rita, they are:

1) Relying on public transport for evacuation is a fiasco waiting to happen. The social engineers that want more people to abandon their cars put the burden on public transit, which is proven to not perform.
2) The problem in Houston with respect to Rita was that the LANE LIMITATIONS turned the evacuation into a nightmare. It is LANE CAPACITY that clears traffic buildup. As soon as they opened up all the lanes for evacuation, the traffic moved.

When ALL lanes are moving, there is no need for an HOV lane, since there is no advantage to using it.
The only way to keep all the lanes moving is to remove the bottle necks.

Here's an [incomplete] list of what I think needs to be done:

1) Can the whole light rail thing.
It's been estimated at close to 14 billion, but they don't know if even that is enough, since the 'plan' is not complete. The 9 1/2 cents does not come close to funding this fiasco.
2) Close down the Sounder. 350 million, plus ongoing expenses, so that only a few people get a ride.
What is the ridership on this thing, anyway? How close is it to breaking even?
3) Use all the money that would have gone to those 2 projects and put it to more buses and more GP LANES on the highways, remove bottlenecks, and get rid of ALL HOV lanes. They do not work. If ALL the traffic is moving, then there is no need for an HOV lane.
4) Privatize the ferries. They are another sink hole for our tax dollars that could be put to better use than it is.
5) Remove the sales taxes on construction materials. All this does is pad the general fund. The contractors make a margin on every dollar they spend, so if the state charges 8 bucks extra for sales tax, they will in turn charge the state 10 to cover the 8 plus 'their cut'.
6) Existing road projects do not need to pad the environmentalist lawyer's pockets. On average, 30% of a road project is spent on environmental studies. This is feel-good BS that in reality offers no value back to the tax payer. A repaving job simply does not need an environmental study. The road is already there. The materials are the same as they were. Why then do we waste money on environmental studies every time?
7) The 520 bridge plan does NOT need a 14 foot pedestrian lane complete with a scenic pedestrian overlook at mid span. Use the space for an additional GP lane, and add one additional GP lane going the other direction.
 
I believe the ferries were privately run once upon a time, but Ball was losing so much money they bailed.
 
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