Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rubber tire buses, trains, and other great ideas

Here we come again, suggesting that all the furious activity to do good with ‘government money’ is symptomatic of a long established symbiosis between bureaucrats and consultants that derive their living by feeding the desire to go forth and do good.

Before proceeding further, we want to link you to a recent article that talks of major federally funded train proposals, of a scope way, way beyond that being discussed here in our little corner of the world.

Go here to read the whole thing.  We’ll briefly whet your appetite with this pithy opening passage:

When Wisconsin voters elected Scott Walker governor in November, they did so in no small measure because of his pledge to kill a stimulus-funded $810 million railroad connecting Milwaukee and Madison. Walker campaigned extensively on ending the project, which he deemed both unnecessary and wasteful. Completion of the “high-speed” rail, he argued, would obligate the state to cover shortfalls and operating costs for years—something foolish for a state with a $3 billion deficit.

We advise you to view the proposal to bring train service to Brunswick with similar concerns.  Those who argue that this train service will not have the same problems are making those pronouncements while funded with the very same federal funds that always jump-start such an idea, whether the citizenry has any interest or not.  In other words, as we often hear, the reason other such proposals failed is because the right people were not in charge. 

We won’t belabor the subject, weekend before Christmas that it is.  We want you to know, however, that we have discovered information relating to the origins of the ‘rubber tire’ bus idea.  Don’t tell anyone, because it’s a big secret.  At least as secret as State Government can make such an idea.

It looks very much like the good and well-intentioned folks in MDOT have been working on this idea for almost three years.  You can find the basics here.  If you putz around a bit, like on this page, you’ll get the impression that state officials have been nursing this idea along for, oh, five years or so.  At what expense, we can’t discern.

You will note, however, that ‘purpose and need’ were on the agenda for 2009, some five years into the effort.  We don’t know about your Bravo Sierra detector, but ours went off like a banshee when we read this.  You can spend money on an idea for 4 or 5 years before establishing ‘purpose and need?’ 

Calling Pogo!  Please remind us who the enemy is, my friend!

Now the really good part.  The ever present ‘consultants’ have been engaged in the effort since at least, well, we can’t really tell.  Some have been engaged for about 3 years, but some seem to have been on board since well before that…as far back as 2005 or so.

We can only imagine how much this has cost us as taxpayers, at either the state or federal levels, notwithstanding the popular conceit that federal money is ‘free.’  Requests for spending totals have gone unanswered.

We love the idea of hiring consultants to develop such concepts, warranted or not.  We especially love it when said consultants are hired to establish ‘purpose and need.’

Can you possibly imagine hiring a transportation consultant to look into a transportation concept, and having them conclude that the idea makes no sense and should not be pursued further? 

Do you recall the town engaging consultants many years ago to determine whether there was a need to convert the old High School to a world-class recreation facility?  Complete with dual swimming pools and a roof-top running track?  Do you think these firms build a solid financial future by disproving the ideas of government officials?


You should have caught on by now.  If you haven’t, further rants on our part won’t change things.

Suffice it to say that we are increasingly confident that the relationship between agency bureaucrats and parasitic consultants is every bit as unholy as that usually attributed to absurdly compensated lobbyists in Washington D.C. 

We believe that the common conception of ‘government’ is so underestimated as to constitute a fantasy.  And that unless drastic measures are taken to reverse the status quo, there is literally no chance of turning around the headfirst dive towards bankruptcy for our public institutions.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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